Hello A Life Loved readers, firstly thank you to all who read my first instalment on this fabulous blog, I genuinely appreciate it, and also to those who took the time to comment and message me via Instagram, I am so happy that many of you found the blog inspiring.
Making that call to my old boss
So, I wasn’t due to return to work after maternity leave, until May 2017 – however, once I decided in the February of that year that I was definitely going ahead with this, there was one thing really playing on my mind – and that was my employer. Once we reached March, communication between myself and my manager was becoming more regular. I’d be sat with my baby Rex all happy and playful, and then my phone would beep. I’d see her name, open the message, and I’d get that overwhelming feeling of absolute dread.
The messages would be so kind and thoughtful too which made me even worse. I couldn’t lie to my manager, I guess I had a lot of respect for her and the business, and I wanted to be honest – I mean, I knew by then I’d not be returning. So I took the bull by the horns, set up a meeting and told her everything.
She was very disappointed that I wasn’t returning, I could see in her face. It was like I had slapped her with a wet fish. However, once the news had sunk in, she was extremely encouraging and wished me luck and love.
Who knew that choosing a name for your business is just as big a deal as choosing a name for your baby?!
I think that as a mother herself, she completely understood my motivations. Furthermore I received a lovely call from the Director wishing me luck too – it felt so good to have told them my plans, and now I could really focus on the future, without that feeling of guilt.
Choosing a name for my business
So I guess before you can do anything for your business, your business needs an actual name. And who knew that choosing a name for your business is just as big a deal as choosing a name for your baby! At first I thought I’d keep it simple; ‘Claire Harwood Recruitment’ – however, after being advised that two surnames sounds better, especially if you have plans to grow your business, I needed to get my thinking cap on.
As ‘Harwood’ is my surname, I felt that was a good place to start. ‘Harwood Batty Recruitment’….? Nahhhhh, as much as I love my maiden name it certainly wasn’t cutting it as the name for my new business. I guess I wanted to try and include my two children if I could, I wanted a name that meant something to me. So, we have Scarlett Rose and Rex Joseph, and just like that I thought ‘Harwood & Rose’, ‘Harwood & Rose Recruitment’. I loved it! But what about my little Rexy baby? I couldn’t leave him out, and so I decided that because Rex means ‘king’, I would use a crown as my company logo.
PERFECT. I found myself walking around the house role playing; ‘Good afternoon! You are through to Claire at Harwood & Rose…’. It sounded good enough to me.
At this point things are coming together, however, I still couldn’t quite believe I was doing this – me, Claire Batty running her own business! I’ll be honest 9 months in and I am still pinching myself over this.
Finding a Good Accountant
Now I had a name, I needed to register the company at Company’s House, which was pretty straight forward to be honest, I registered the company as a Limited Company rather than a sole trader, and that was it done – a pretty straight forward online form and we were good to go. Harwood & Rose was a real life company, not just a dream.
The next thing to do was open a business bank account – a sit down meeting with a Business Manager, where you tell them all about your business plan. I don’t know why I thought this would be a difficult process, in fact it was actually very straight forward.
Now this bit is important; if I can give any advice at all it would be to invest in a fantastic accountant. Mine is an angel that was sent to me from heaven, I truly believe this, she takes away the stress of anything finance related because truth be told, I am completely rubbish when it comes to all of that stuff. My husband James is forever telling me I NEED to and MUST understand all of this but my brain just does not retain that kind of info. Please tell me I’m not alone?
If I had a pound for every time James asked ‘Another book?! How many books does one girl need?’, I wouldn’t have had to start this business, I’d be rich!
It’s funny, but when I was a child, I would hear a song on the radio just once and then somehow be able to recall all of the words. But when it came to maths or science I could repeat it in my head 1,562 times – and still not know it. Saying that, however, by some miracle, I received a first in my statistics module at university, when they handed out the marks I asked my tutor over and over ‘Are you sure that’s the mark for Claire Batty?’ ‘Have you got me mixed up with someone else?!’ It turns out it was right. Carol Vorderman, watch your back I say!
So next on the agenda was to write a list of what I would need to really get things going, and it looked like this:-
And that was pretty much it. I mean of course I splashed out on fancy new stationery because when you are a stationery addict it would be rude not to. If I had a pound for every time James asked ‘Another book?! How many books does one girl need?’, I wouldn’t have had to start this business, I’d be rich! So after purchasing a laptop, and half of Paperchase, I then set about the task of finding a web designer.
The guy I chose was recommended to me and from that first meeting I just knew I had gone with the right person, he got me, he was on my wave length, and the first draft of my logo that he showed me I physically gasped. In fact, I actually screamed ‘THAT’S IT!’. He then advised me that the logo was one of many he had drafted for me to look at – but I knew that was the one. I loved it and still do. And when you know, you know.
People will often tell me that ‘Harwood & Rose’ sounds and looks like it sells expensive watches, not recruitment services – and this makes me laugh. And also makes me proud. Why can’t recruitment be classy eh? If anyone can bring glamour to this world, I can (joke).
House of Harwood & Rose Blog
So, from being a little girl I would frequently say ‘one day I am going to write a book’ and right up until March 2017 I would say to my husband ‘I’d LOVE to write a book James, I just wish I had something to actually write about….’. I mean I’m not claiming to be the next J.K.Rowling or anything, far from it, however writing is something I enjoy doing, so when I set up Harwood & Rose, I thought that this would be the perfect time to document my experiences and views in the form of my very own blog. My thoughts and ideas of how I would do this was very straight forward, I knew what I wanted and how I wanted to do it. It pretty much went like this;
- My passion is interiors and my home, therefore I shall set up an instagram account and use that as the focal point.
- I will use my instagram community to direct my readers to my blog. And I shall use Instagram Stories to document my day. And voila!
Never in a million years did I think my Instagram account @houseofharwoodandrose would take off in the way it did. It has not only opened doors for me and offered me a real sense of warmth and happiness – it has become my passion. I love the insta-community, and I love sharing my day to day as a business owner, mother and wife with my followers.
You see, when you work alone from home, and you are actually a very sociable person, Instagram is a flipping great way of communicating with others throughout the day so that you don’t feel isolated. My blog, for the present moment is pretty basic, however I have plans this month to pimp it right up. Watch this space.
I’ve been asked quite often, ‘Are you disapointed you didn’t start the blog whilst on maternity leave? So then you may not have had to start the business?’ but I can’t stress enough how much that is not the case. There wouldn’t be a House of Harwood & Rose if there wasn’t Harwood & Rose Recruitment, simple as that. The business has given me something worthwhile to talk about alongside a great sense of confidence and self-belief, and as far as I am concerned the two work alongside each other perfectly, and as corny as it sounds, for the first time in 25 years I can say I absolutely LOVE my job.
So since setting up my recruitment business, Harwood & Rose, and documenting my life as a new business owner and lover of all things interior design, how have those first nine months gone? I shall divulge all of this in part 3 next month on A Life Loved, where I shall discuss how the business has evolved into a recruitment AND profiling business. I’m also going to be sharing my experience of running a business whilst also being a mammy.