Finding the right work-life balance can become even more hectic once you have children. We spoke to Marie Swarbreck, an entrepreneur in Hong Kong who created a company that connects working mothers with job opportunities that honor their flexible lifestyles.
How did you come up with the idea for your company FLEXIMums?
The driving force was the need for work-family balance and flexibility after having my first child. As the proud mum of two lovely young children, Arabelle and Jude, I was working a full-time office job and found it challenging combining both of my roles.
Before setting up FLEXImums, I spoke with many business owners and entrepreneurs who said they were interested in hiring part-time staff. At the same time, I spoke to many parents -- locals and foreigners -- and they all showed interest in flexible job opportunities, returning to work or changing jobs if they could find part-time assignments.
From there, FLEXImums grew organically as there was a need for such the platform and service.
As an entrepreneur, you think twice before you spend. Some startups have investors or crowdfund which gives them a launch budget or production budget. When you set up as a sole founder with your own funds, you certainly try to get most for your money.
I also believe I’ve become more creative in finding solutions to build my business. I look for partners, barter deals, and collaborations. There are a lot of other businesses out there with the same budget limitations, and working together can be very effective.
I wish that I had invested sooner in an accountant and office support system so that I could focus on the functions that grow the business. Entrepreneurs tend to focus on building their business, growing the client base and making money -- we wear many hats. Managing budgets and accounting is quite demanding and time-consuming on top of everything else.
I have learned how important it is to budget. You need to understand where you spend your money as life can throw unexpected expenses at you. If you don’t know where you can save easily, it can become challenging to live in such an expensive city. You don’t need to keep track of every expense, but having a good understanding of your main costs is really important. For many of us, schooling for the kids is a big expense and therefore we need to plan ahead as well.
I use a cloud-based accounting system called XERO. It has been an amazing tool to have as it allows you get reports easily. Of course, you have to input all the information first, which can be time-consuming, but anything is better than an Excel spreadsheet.
Holistic wealth to me and my family means joy and happiness. We live in a place we love and we have good friends. Our children are happy and healthy. Our children go to the local school and they are learning languages. I think this is more valuable than just money. As you said, it is not about having abundance financially, but in all areas of our lives.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
[Photo credit: Arounddb.com, Scmp.com]