In 2016 Melissa set up SpareMyTime a one-stop shop helping people to search, book and pay for a host of local reliable service providers in one place. Now the business also offers virtual admin assistance, book keeping and digital marketing support. In other words a way to hand over your ‘To-Do’ list to a very trusted pair of hands – what’s not to love? We catch up with Melissa to find out how it all started…
How did your business idea come about?
Unfortunately, there was no light bulb moment, more of a gradual development over time with plenty of mistakes thrown in! However, I’ve always felt passionately about alleviating the stresses of modern life with very practical solutions.
Where did the idea come from?
I left the City in 2016 when it became clear that life with small children and a full-time career wasn’t for me. I wanted to create something that really helped people, like me, who were forging a way forward, balancing work with children.
How has the company changed since you launched?
I view SpareMyTime as being its 3rd metamorphosis. It started life as a website connecting homeowners with high quality, local sole traders. In 2018, I succumbed to my mum’s request and added a phone number to the site so that her friends could call us instead of going online. It soon became clear that I’d completely underestimated how much trust is bred from being able to pick up the phone and speak to someone who actually cares. From that point our ‘home concierge’ service has blossomed.
We launched our Virtual Assistant service in 2019. My children had started at school and I found myself surrounded by intelligent, capable women either wanting to work but not being able to justify the cost of childcare; or working in a traditional capacity but straining under the demands that come with it. I identify with both groups.
On one side, I became passionate about building an environment where people can thrive outside a classic 9-5 office structure and where they feel completely supported. On the other, I wanted to build a practical solution for people managing work, business, family and life so that they can become more productive and achieve some peace of mind.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Starting up a business when you have small children seems a perfect work/life solution however new businesses require an enormous amount of time, attention and emotion. It’s like having another very demanding (and badly behaved) child!
If I were to put my finger on one specific challenge, it would be the constancy of having to be on top of it all. My real turning point was when I started using our PAs to manage my home and work admin. Their support has been game changing. Both in terms of my productivity but also because I’m a lot happier for it.
How do you juggle running a business with being a parent?
By being part of a team with my husband, family and friends; and by outsourcing what I can. Life is a lot more fun when you feel part of a gang!
There is a saying I often remind myself of: ‘Our children are only ever lent to us, we never know just how long we can keep them for. So kiss them, cuddle them, praise them and hold them tightly, but most of all tell them you love them every day’. I reckon by following that guide, the kids may look back and feel we didn’t do too badly.
What element of the business are you most proud of?
Every time we get a great piece of feedback from a client, it makes my heart sing. Or any time one of our VAs say how supported they feel working with us, I feel unbelievably proud. In our own small way, we are helping others become more productive and able to manage those everyday stresses that can sometimes become unbearable.
What advice do you have for others wanting to set up their own business?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, they are the most valuable thing you can do.
We’re in a wonderful place at the moment where we know who we are, what our intention is and our clients value that intention. That seems a pretty cool place to be. However, we’ve got some exciting plans in the pipeline, the most exciting of which is franchising – our first franchises have been snapped up and I’m so excited to support these fantastic women build their own businesses.
Do you have a motto for life?
Treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself. I was told it as a child and it’s always served me well.