Running a business outside the office
Julie White, founder of Truly Madly Baby, on staying connected without being deskbound
As the managing director of a growing business, a huge proportion of my time is spent away from the office both meeting consultants and going to trade shows across the UK. This increasing need to work effectively on the move is mirrored by a strict regime to maintain a good work/ life balance.
Family commitments mean that I need to leave work in time to collect my son, Samuel, for example, but often I will need to continue working into the evening. The operation of my business relies heavily on the ability to communicate around the clock and meet growing customer demand in what is definitely a ‘want it now’ culture.
I was initially sceptical about mobile technology. I used a standard mobile for texting and making phone calls, but was unsure if other mobile technology could really increase my productivity.
Having made the simple change to a smart phone, I can now keep on top of emails as well as calls throughout the day. I’ve also benefited from the other functions such as diary management, the Windows notebook and camera.
The smart phone has become integrated into my working week, as by synchronising it with my Outlook calendar I am always aware of what I have coming up. I use the hand-recognition software to carry out quick stock takes and even use the camera regularly to take pictures of damaged stock and email suppliers, without having to go near my desktop PC.
I’m now more efficient, share information better and at lower costs. I can work effectively on the move, making better use of deadtime. Using T-Mobile’s web’n’walk service, I can also easily access the internet.
This is particularly useful for monitoring websites such as Net Mums, which we use for recruitment purposes, and I also use Yell.com to source telephone numbers rather than having to call directory enquiries.
Effective mobile working will play a key role in the future strategy of my business. I am keen to increase the number of Truly Madly Baby consultants from 200 to 500 by the end of the year, as well as make some changes to my own role in the business. As it grows from strength to strength, I would like to be out of the office more often than I am at the moment – perhaps three days per week.
This will allow me to spend more time on training courses, meeting up with our consultants, attending road shows and generally ramping up our marketing and PR activity – as opposed to being largely reliant on word-of-mouth, as we have been until now.
Julie White is the founder of mother and child party planning company, Truly Madly Baby.