Career Mum: Nominated at the Business Mum Awards
Karen Holden, mum of one, set up A City Law Firm in 2009 and is still celebrating its success. I started in one room with only one employee, I gradually extended to an entire floor and a team of 9 and now we have our own building and continue to grow. I still ask myself daily 'How on Earth did I get here'?
I had no idea how tough setting up a business could be, employing staff, juggling cash flow, generating business and then throw a baby into the mix life became quite challenging. As a result, of my experiences, I now offer start-up business advice and free clinics to people, in the same position, as I understand the issues they are facing first hand. I now know they need legal advice as well as practical and genuine support through the pitfalls.
The whole experience was daunting as I had to learn about accounts, IT systems and other new professional roles, whilst maintaining my client files and family commitments. However, I soon built a friendly rapport with my clients and some of them even helped me develop some aspects of the business, such as the website, which will always be appreciated.
I won't lie I found it hard juggling early motherhood (sleep deprivation and guilt) and a demanding full-time career. It doesn’t get any easier as they answer back and do the guilt trips for coming into work. However, the rewards (both family and professional) far outweigh the stress I faced. Being a business owner means I have flexible working in terms of hours and working from home, which I also extend to my employees as I appreciate their needs are the same as mine, especially the other mums. I realise you get far more from people if they are looked after and job sharing has energised my team. I feel that more employers should be open to these flexible arrangements, even for those people without families, as they would get so much more from their staff.
I miss my little one when I am at work, but he has a fulfilled week with his grandparents and at school. Also to be honest I love the fact I can get on a train and have a cup of coffee, apply make-up and read a book travelling into work, which is my little 20 minute escape. Then I throw myself into in the work giving me tremendous satisfaction as the determined career women I remain. At the end of the day I always get to return home to my little boy, who is the apple of my eye, and give him my full attention. Work-life balance is important and tough to get, but it is so rewarding when you get it right.
I should also say I extend this to dads too either as single parents or the main carer as I appreciate you too face similar circumstances.
My team of solicitors offer friendly and personal legal advice in the areas of litigation, commercial & company law, family & child, employment, wills and start-up business. We have specialists in IVF, surrogacy and co-parenting issues, and employment rights relating to maternity, paternity or IVF. We offer advice at competitive rates and welcome new and innovative ways of working.
Cases we have faced include: breach of contract with child carers, loss of school term fees, setting up a nursery and buying a day care centre, redundancies and discrimination due to being pregnant, flexible working arrangements and dismissal due to unfair terms compared to non-parent employees.
I hope my team continues to flourish and enjoy their work as much as I do.