Jac Bowie is the founder of Business in Heels, one of the fastest growing women's networking events in Australia. Jac started Business in Heels in early 2013 – since then it has grown to over 40 branches worldwide, with another three branches opening around the world every month on average. She shares her story, including how she started from scratch without any funding or investors, juggling work with a young family, and finding ways to work smarter.
The big idea
"Business in Heels is all about bringing the right women together in a fun and social atmosphere, having a giggle over a glass of champers and checking out each others' shoes. It's a complete fresh approach to networking. I've replaced formalities, name badges and boring speeches with canapés, goody bags and bubbles. I've found that if the women like each other, they'll form a sisterhood of support in all areas including their business.
Business in Heels came at a time when I was looking for direction and a new passion. I found myself out of work with two young children, and feeling completely uninspired by my career prospects. My work wasn't exciting anymore, my relationship had ended, and my mum was sick. Feeling lost and on the couch with a broken ankle, I invited my closest girlfriends – all successful and inspiring businesswomen – to a social gathering called Business in Heels. The idea just took off from that first event.
It was a challenging yet exciting time without investors backing me or a stable place to start from. I never thought it would grow so fast and popular with women, not just in Australia but also overseas. I just wanted to help women connect to each other in a fun and relaxed setting so they can make valuable business connections."
Growing the business with a family
"I've juggled children and worked from home for over 10 years starting up several businesses during this time. I've had plenty of experience when it comes to looking after young children and a home business.
It was hard work. I also made mistakes at the beginning, but it is all part of the learning that comes from starting and running your own business.
Business in Heels is a networking event so many of the events happen in the evenings. I have a strong support base at home – my children are looked after if I need to attend an event or to travel as the business is expanding overseas."
Maintain a work/life balance
"It's challenging to achieve a work/life balance with a growing business and a family. There's just not enough hours in the day to do all that I want to do! My working hours were long and continuous when the business was young. I became efficient with my time, scheduling meetings when the children were asleep. I planned ahead so that I was making the most of every minute.
Learning to switch off from work and gadgets remained a personal challenge while the business was growing. Now if I've taken a day out from running Business in Heels to spend time with my children 'I'm off'. I maintain a clear distinction between work and family time. I don't check emails or answer calls and give 100 per cent attention to my children.
I don't try to be perfect at everything because I don't need to be. It's important for me to distinguish between these two areas so that I'm able to do my best work instead of being everywhere at once!"
Use technology to work smarter
"I'm a total technology geek and thrive on using the latest gadgets and software. I try to work smarter using gadgets and software to talk to each other. Smartphones, laptops, iPods and business software – I've got it all! Systems and automation help me to operate my business better so my time isn't taken up by administrative tasks. The extra time makes a big different for mums in business like me."
Work with a team
"I've outsourced parts of the business to help me get a work/life balance and help focus my attention on expanding Business in Heels. It's a complete juggling act running a business if you're not organised or have processes in place. Hiring a great team has freed me up to focus on my passion, which is connecting like-minded businesswomen. Social first and business second is what Business in Heels is all about."
Jac's tips for mums in business
1. Be passionate about what you do. It's infectious!
2. Don't try to be perfect at everything – you don't need to be.
3. Keep the mojo alive with your partner by spending time and making them feel special.
4. Give yourself little rewards for jobs well done.
5. Remain true to your brand and personality.
Meet other mums in business in the Essential Baby forum.