2to3days.com: Juliet Turnbull

The former business coach tells us how her start-up plans to help mothers return to work and how she grew her business on a flexible basis

Name: Juliet Turnbull 
Company name: 2to3days.com
Location: London 
Date launched: 20/07/15 
Website: www.2to3days.com

Tell us what your business does:

We’re a private community matching enlightened employers with professional, educated women, who want to combine stimulating flexible work with raising their children. So many women are blocked out of the workplace in wanting to work part time in order so that they can look after their family, making it seem impossible for them to pursue a career in tandem.

We offer mothers a one-stop-shop of support as they embark on finding their dream job – whether that is allowing them to remain in or return to the workforce. We’ve set up a “reality check” exercise to give mothers clarity on how much time they are available to work and how much money they want to earn, as well as connecting up mothers, for example, to job share.

In addition, within our community we have a large number of experts listed to help mothers, be that by offering advice or helping them learn new skills, such as improving their social media presence or CV writing.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

As a business coach, I had heard first hand from employers about how they weren’t able to find appropriate candidates for part-time roles: employers said to me more than once, “this would be a great job for a capable mother”. Simultaneously, as a mother I was consistently having the same conversation with other mothers who wanted roles which reflected their intelligence and expertise, but which were part-time so that they could also focus on raising their young family.

I could see that the supply and demand was there, but it seemed the two groups were somehow invisible to each other, lost in all the background noise from recruiters and job hunters. I saw the opportunity in this and set up 2to3days.com in order to make the two groups directly visible to one another.

How did you know there was a market for it?

In short, we did our homework and conducted a huge amount of market research – surveys and focus groups – around the idea. We talked to everyone! We found that whilst there are sites aimed at mothers, jobs boards, and even sites focusing on part time roles, no one platform brought together all the elements that we felt were needed to address the gap properly.

I also knew there was a market, because I am it. I was one of those mothers looking for part time work whilst raising my children, so I set up this business to make possible, for me and others.

What were you doing before starting up?

Prior to starting up 2to3days.com, I was a senior business coach at Shirlaws for over five years. I started out as a chartered surveyor in the retail property sector for 12 years, completing a BSc in estate management.

Along the way, I have also served as chair of Macmillan’s largest fundraising event in London, raising £650,000 in three years.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

I can remember being at boarding school and dreaming of running my own business. I distinctively made the conscious choice to carry on working when I had my children, in order to set up my own business: I wanted to invest in my future and build my own business in this way.

How did you raise the money?

The funding for my business has all come through direct investment from family.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

2to3days.com is a member’s site, consisting of mothers, experts and employers; whilst it is free for mothers to be on the site and search for roles, experts and employers pay a monthly or annual subscription. Experts pay £25 a month or £260 a year; and employers pay £225 for a monthly advert.

If employers or experts sign up now, they will have free membership until 30 September 2015 and employers can post adverts for a reduced rate of £175 until 30 September, 2015.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Starting up any business is tough, and in keeping with the ethos of 2to3days.com, I set up the business on a flexible basis – allowing myself the time to raise my young family. Whilst this can be a challenge, it is also one of the biggest rewards of starting my own business and setting the rules.

One of the most important ways of overcoming this challenge for me is through delegation – I have built up an amazing and passionate team around me whose advice and opinion I trust, and who all believe in 2to3days.com as much as I do.

What was your first big breakthrough? 

There were two big breakthroughs for me. One was when Josephine Fairley from The Telegraph wrote about us and within one week we had over 1,000 mothers register with us.

The second was when, for a period in early 2014 – before we had a working website (only a holding page and an excel spreadsheet) – employers starting contacting me, saying that they’d heard about the site and wanted to register and get involved. Before we had even launched we’d managed to put two mothers into employment.

These two moments demonstrated that our model worked and gave me the confidence and energy I needed to get the business up and running.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

In order to start a successful businesses you need a clear vision, dogged self-belief, and you need to do extensive research and know your sector.

If you have these components in place, it will give you the determination and dedication to see it through. I would also advocate building in a really strong team around you of people you trust and who get your business.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time

The site is currently running across the UK and we want to build on our vibrant, strong community here first and then expand it globally. Our demographic is worldwide – mothers and employers need us to match them up, whether they’re in New York or Paris. In fact, we have already heard from mothers in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, and The Netherlands, so watch this space!

In addition, we hope that in five years’ time we will have launched the 2to3days Foundation, aimed at helping mothers build businesses around the world on terms that work for them.

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