Mum in business: Rhian Allen

Passionate about health ... Rhian Allen and her son, Kai.
Passionate about health ... Rhian Allen and her son, Kai. 

Passionate about health and wellness, Rhian Allan is the owner and founder of www.losebabyweight.com.au and www.healthymummy.com, businesses which help mums lose weight safely after pregnancy. She's mum to Kai, 22 months, and is due to have her second baby in December 2012.

Tell us about your business ...
Lose Baby Weight is a health and weight loss business specifically designed for mums wanting to lose weight in a healthy and safe way after pregnancy. Our goal was to create a free support network for mums who wanted to lose weight, which took into account the fact that many mums are breastfeeding (all our plans and products are breastfeeding safe), exhausted and time poor – which makes losing weight harder to do.

We provide a huge amount of free support including over 500 family-friendly recipes, postnatal exercise videos to follow, a weight loss tracking system and members area, daily motivation and a large Facebook community where our team of nutritionists and trainers are on hand all day every day for advice and support. We also have our own range of products, called The Healthy Mummy, that we use in our plans. Since launching in October 2010, mums have lost over 200,000kg on our plans. 

Why did you start your business?
I was pregnant with my first son, and after a lot of research I discovered there was no national business to help mums achieve their goal post-pregnancy weight in a safe and healthy way. I had studied nutrition and was passionate about health and wellness, and wanted to create a support system and product especially for mums. 

Has starting your own business lived up to expectations?
I don’t think you can ever be fully prepared for the amount of effort that starting your own business entails. It has been a huge amount of work but I can say that it is the best thing I have done (other than having my children). Although I work seven days a week, I have the luxury of fitting work around my life and family. The satisfaction of being able to help so many mums get fit and healthy is just fantastic, and every day I feel so proud to have been able to make such a positive impact on people’s lives all over the world. 

The satisfaction of being able to help so many mums get fit and healthy is just fantastic

What have you enjoyed most about running your own business?
I have loved having an idea and bringing it to life. Other than creating our website, being able to create our own Healthy Mummy product range has been one of the most rewarding things I have done. The creation and formulation of The Healthy Mummy Smoothie (which is the hero in the range) took 12 months of research and development, plus working with leading dieticians, nutritionists and the Monash University to ensure the best product possible that was also safe in breastfeeding.

I also love having the flexibility to work around my family. This may mean I work until midnight every night, but it also means I can spend quality time with my family during the day too.

What is the biggest challenge?
Managing my time! I have a fantastic team of people who work on the business, but the fast growth means there's always something to do. I have learnt to prioritise my time and delegate work to members of the team so there's less for me to do – and with baby number two on the way the need to delegate is even more important!

I also love what I do so I have to drag myself away from it at times. That can be hard to manage as I love to create new ideas and work on new ways to help mums get healthy.

How do you manage to juggle the running of your business with family?
I write a to-do list every night and prioritise my time. I have a fantastic team of people (12 in total, who work either full or part time) who work across the business, and the key is to delegate and know who is doing what.

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I also have a fantastic nanny three days a week, who is a huge help in allowing me to run the business.

What is the hardest thing about being a working mother?
Juggling your time and not having any time for yourself. There's always so much to do, so any free time I have goes to working on the business, which can be exhausting. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Do you manage to get any 'me time'?
I love the idea of 'me time' and would love some, but I don’t really fit it in! I do try and go for reflexology once a week and I love that, but I always take my computer with me so I can still work. That's as close to ‘me time’ as I get.

Have you ever thought about giving it up?
Never! I absolutely love what I do. The fact that I can do what I'm passionate about, plus work around my family and run a financially successful business, is like a dream come true. I feel very lucky and would never give it up.

Do you have any advice for someone starting their own business?
Firstly, you need to work out your budget. How much do you need to launch your business? How much will you spend on marketing/branding/retail site/content/social/SEO, etc? It's also a very good idea to work out your family budget and decide if you need to use savings or a loan to help survive the launch years, when business development can be costly and profits are thin on the ground. 

Secondly, make customer service your number one focus. Customers will either make or break your business; nothing should be too much trouble for them, so always over-deliver and respond promptly. Every day I see companies not doing this and it amazes me. Their good experiences will translate to more customers – likewise, their bad experiences can lose you a lot of money and give your business a bad reputation.

Thirdly, don’t try and grow too fast. If you try and do too much, too soon, cash flow will become an issue - this is a common downfall of many businesses. Instead, grow at a rate you can manage, and don’t feel pressured to spend money you don’t have. Also, rather than following competitors, do things your way and create your own innovation and lead rather than following someone else. Give yourself a point of difference in your domain and people will talk about you.

Meet other mums in business in the Essential Baby forum.