My first ever guest blog comes from the lady who helped and supported me to finish university and start working by offering me flexible childcare for my daughter. Being able to support your family being self-employed is an amazing achievement. In my guest blog series I will be sharing stories of other women who have overcome obstacles to create a successful business. Here is her story about being a single mum and going self-employed.
Guest Blog by Stephanie Brown
I have always been part self-employed for at least 9 years. I used to work full time and do Avon alongside. This was creating a little pocket money as at the time expecting my 1st child.
At the time, working for Avon was great, as my full-time job, and then maternity leave were also contributing to all the household bills. It was always run as a tiny business with customers being friends and neighbours. This also kept us afloat as a family while expecting my second child. I and my husband at the time, decided I would go part time due to health issues and then I became a part time worker and a housewife. (Yes I hate that term, but I was able to stay home with the children and work part time to get my Health back into good shape)
Three and half years ago I took a major leap. After finding myself going through a divorce, including going through the courts for access to my children and financially needing to support the home, I was forced back into full-time childcare work, until I realised the extreme financial strain. I was paying my employer, to pay me, to look after my son. My daughter was going between school clubs and to neighbours, as my work and childcare providers didn’t suits hours I needed. Well, how crazy was that?
I was a single mum with two children under 5, working full time and gaining all government help I could and still feeling I was lacking happiness within me.
Taking the plunge
In Oct 2014, I left my full-time secure paid work with the idea of setting up as a childminder. Oh, the negativity I faced from family. The financial implications were hard.
I fully registered as self-employed, I had to change everything with tax credits, child tax and working tax credits. The backlash was unreal I remember several times being told by an advisor from tax credits that I was seen as being able to work more. My income was not right for the number of hours I was claiming for. I was then receiving income support help (the 75page documents to apply for this was crazy). I kept being told I needed to work. They really didn’t see self-employed work being work.
I got all the financial support stopped on several occasions. As a single mam this was hard hitting. On two occasions (as my ex-husbands driving licence was still registered to this address) I had to prove he was no longer here, other times my renewal figures did not match their “expectations” for a self-employed income, however, they could not give me a figure on this.
I decided to scrap the income support, this was more hassle to me than what I was receiving. I decided to push forward and harder to create my vision with my Childminding further.
I myself needed flexible childcare while going through the divorce, I needed shift childcare, childcare that I could access part time, and pay part-time prices, and this needed to alter monthly. No one could help. My vision was created further when I noticed overnight childcare was needed for some families.
By Spring 2015, I had several families accessing my services. This was generating an income but with a great gap. I was receiving all tax credits help I could, but the government strikes again, stopping my support as my income was fluctuating. One representative told me again I could work more hours. I was doing 45 hrs week over 6days but due to income being low. It was stopped until further investigation.
This was crazy. I was providing a service which meant several parents were able to return to work. And were able to follow their dreams and reducing unemployment rates but they could not see this. All they could see was that I could work more hours to increase my income as the figures didn’t match their expectations.
The government support is meant to be there to support, however, I was having months of hell, money stopped, reduced, overpaid. It was worse than a roller coaster. However, I was determined to see this support through. I knew I needed the help and it was there, they just could not see this as they are “employed” and on a good wage.
After several investigations, I decided to take on an accountant to help me. Things were eventually sorted. My business was growing and ever changing, the government support meant eventually I could take evenings off and I was more relaxed and even felt proud. Yes, I’m living off government support with tax credits. Yes, I’m running a business. Yes, I am a single mam. Yes, it’s hard. But three and half years of stress has now paid off.
Tax credits are now happy with figures I give yearly, I no longer get told I need to work more or increase earning by part self-employed part employed work.
I have the vision to get off tax credits but at present, it’s there supporting my two children and I. It is there to support. Sometimes they just need reminding self-employed workers work just as hard, if not harder at creating their own income and just need a guiding hand.
Taking government support is ok, it’s there to support so take what you can, especially when setting up your own business. I use the income for fuel, food shopping etc. The journey is still going but hopefully now I am at the end of many hurdles with them.
If you would like to learn more about Steph and her childminding business you can find her on Facebook
Or visit her website.