Starting a Business & Charity as a Single Mother – Episode 21

   

Starting A Business

 

Kate Armstrong, the owner of Blue Water Creative, shares the story of how and why she took the leap to start her own business while also giving back to the community through her charity event, The Little Elves Project. Her journey and genuine willingness to help others will definitely tug a string in your heart.

 

Important Links Mentioned in the Show:

Blue Water Creative Website

Blue Water Creative Facebook

Blue Water Creative Instagram

Blue Water Creative Email

Little Elves Project Website

Little Elves Project Facebook

Little Elves Project Instagram

Little Elves Project Email

Angela Henderson Website

Angela Henderson Active Business Facebook Group

Angela Henderson Facebook Business Page

Angela Henderson Instagram

 

Prefer to read Starting a Business & Charity as a Single Mother? Here’s the transcript:

ANGELA:

You’re listening to the Business and Life Conversations podcast, with Angela Henderson, episode 21.

Hey there, you’re listening to the Business and Life Conversations podcast, my name is Angela Henderson, and on this show we talk about improving your business, life or both. By having amazing and rich conversations with brilliant guests. Who will inspire you and who will give you tips and tricks, to help you grow both in life and in business.

Hey there and welcome back to another episode of Business and Life Conversations podcast and I’m your host, Angela from Angela Henderson Consulting. Today I’m super excited to have Kate joining me who is going to share her story about how she took the leap to start a business as a single mum, while having two delightful little boys with Asperger’s with her. How she has found time to run a charity event and has all done this while fighting off self-doubt. Welcome to the show, Kate.

KATE:

Thank you so much for having me.

ANGELA:

Well thank you, thank you so much for applying to be on the show.

When you first reach out to be on the show I read your information and I knew I had to have you on the show because not only is it going to be a rich conversation about business and life, but I love your determination, your willingness to take action regardless of what is being thrown your way, and I know many listeners out here will also be able to gain some inspiration from your journey.

So, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to be with us today.

KATE:

Oh, thank you. Thank you.

ANGELA:

Now before we get into the nitty gritty about your journey and everything like that. I always like to share with the listeners a little bit of a fun fact or a fun question with each of the guests.

So, for you. My question to you is what’s your favourite animal and why?

KATE:

My favourite animal, I have two, horses and elephants.

ANGELA:

That’s horses and elephants?

KATE:

Horses I’ve always found since I was little, they’ve had a really calming effect on me, I’m not sure why but I seem to be drawn to them and they tend to yeah, like I said they have a calming effect and now I’ve found that they have the same effect on my kids. So anytime we can be around a horse we do. Unfortunately, it’s not that often but I love them. And elephants I’m not quite sure why I love them. I think that their quiet strength that they have, and I love, and they’re just you know, big gentle giants..

ANGELA:

Right they’re the most precious, I don’t know what it is, the words you use there, like the precious little giants, or precious big giants, it is so true they’re just like these magnificent enormous animals, but yet there is something about their character they’re quite clued in, they can get rambunctious if they need to but they’re quite calm, it’s a great. Clearly you can right now know that elephants are also my favourite animals. I love elephants. So now that we have got your favourite animal out of the way. Tell the listeners and I a little bit more about Kate, your business, your family, so that we can little bit of a better understanding about who you are.

KATE:

Sure. I am 37. Single mum, two boys. My eldest son is Zack and he is 9, my youngest is Tatum who is 6. We sort of call ourselves the little team of three. It’s hectic. Like it is with any family, we’re no different. I started Blue Water Creative, which is my business, last year. Within a nutshell, it offers small business concierge services, I sort of logged it as concierge services, which include anything from admin, to office organisation, content writing, creative work, websites, item sourcing. I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to administrative processes in getting offices set up and working efficiently.

ANGELA:

There is nothing wrong, listen I’m all about, I am bit of a nerd myself. I’m all about, because there is something, not all people love organisation and set ups and systems but I think it is a wonderful, wonderful thing and if businesses did it from the beginning they would have a lot less problems, I think.

KATE:

That I totally agree with..

ANGELA:

You mention when you, when I first was reading in your application, life is tricky, like you said with the best of us. But you got two boys also, each of them have their own individual needs that you need to take into account, whether or not they in school, potentially social, etcetera, and then you decided to take the leap. You’re like, “Doesn’t matter that I am a single mum, doesn’t matter that I am caring for two little boys with Asperger’s, I am going to do it”. So, what was it in you that decided you just needed to take the leap and start your own business?

KATE:

I had been thinking for a quite a while about starting my own business but I was like, probably a lot of people had the fear that comes with that, of either, “Who on earth is going to take my word for it that I can run my own business?” And it’s a lack of security in the beginning, I guess, as well because you have part time or full time work and there’s always that job security there, whereas taking the leap and not having that security behind you is pretty scary. Yeah fighting that is, trying to think you know, I know I can do it but taking that leap are two totally different things.

I was working part time, well before I started, and at the time I was going through a domestic violence court case with my ex-husband, and at the same time, both my kids where diagnosed with both ADHD and Asperger’s. I did have really a very good boss at the time, who really knew the importance of family and was quite fine with me needing to take time off, but after having to rush out, what seemed to be every five seconds, and the million appointments that came with the boys. I really felt like I was taking advantage of his generosity, because at the same time, while I knew he was okay with it, he was also trying to run a business.

ANGELA:

Sure.

KATE:

That was all new to me, so I just didn’t know where it was going to go, and what was going to happen. So, I resigned and I needed to take a moment. Everything was a little overwhelming at the time so I just needed to take a little bit of a time out. Stop work, regroup, figure out where we were at and what the boys needed, so we could move forward and be slightly less chaotic.

ANGELA:

Yes.

KATE:

Like I said, I thought about starting my own business, but I guess the situation that we found ourselves in forced the situation. I needed to work, but at the same time I need to be available in case I was needed by the boys. I needed flexibility and finding a job that I would enjoy, that would also allow me to be flexible, doesn’t really come every day.

ANGELA:

No, and look you said, it’s almost like you had to create your own job description and your own job, in order to tick all those boxes of what you wanted, so you know, like that availability to be able to go to their appointments, drop them at school and day care etcetera, so would I be correct that you almost created your own job description from that?

KATE:

Exactly, I did, and I mean I think many people would love a job like that. Where you have a flexible boss and you can come and go as you please and do the work that you love doing but at the time I just needed. I like working, I enjoy working, and I needed that for me, I needed it financially, and so I just thought, “Alright. I took sort of nearly 20 years of knowledge and experience. Another bonus of that I guess is getting to pick and choice the aspects of my work that I do enjoy and that I know I am good at and turning that into a business and like I said, my weird passion for processes and stuff, sort of packaged all that together and started it and it was a massive jump but..

ANGELA:

And would you say though at the time, you were overwhelmed at some stage and we will talk a little bit about self-doubt in a minute, but I mean you going through a domestic violence situation with the ex-partner, your kids have just been diagnosed with ADHD and Asperger’s, you’ve got to keep a roof over your head, and you got to keep running, so obviously self-doubt was creeping in at some stage, but yet you were able to overcome that. So, talk to me a little about what sort of self-doubts thoughts were going on for you and what you did to overcome those?

KATE:

I think I have always had a problem with, not a problem, but I have always been far too concerned with what other people think. So, that doesn’t help. I kept it to myself for a little while about starting a business, and I think that rolled into worrying about what other people think, because it is a risk and having two kids that depended on me, and having the bills and like everybody else and then sort of going, “Oh well we will give it a go”.

I thought about it a long time. I kept it to myself for a little while. I repeatedly would say, ” You know what can do this. All the work you will doing you are more than capable of doing,” and then the voice would creep in going, “Are you joking, you’re not in your right mind, why do you think you can do this?” and there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, and it’s still something I am working on. It’s not something that was just miraculous fixed, but it came to a point where I knew what I needed to do and I knew what I am capable of doing and I just had to bite the bullet.

There were a lot of sleepless nights, there still is, but it was some something, like I said, I think the situation forced me into it but I was able to work it to my benefit and for the benefit of the boys. Once I could see, it’s probably 18 months in now and we’re still navigating it all, and there is still a lot of self-doubt. I have a lot of problems with promoting myself, I guess and promoting, I am not salesy, so trying to sell myself as a business, I still find quite difficult. It’s all stuff I am still working on.

ANGELA:

But again though, what I love about you, is regardless of the things you still need to work on, because that’s the beauty about business, is you never want to have an empty to-do list or an empty things that I need to work on because either your business sucks and you gonna go bankrupt or your business sucks and you’ve gotta to close it up or a combination of both potentially. But the reality of it is, is you were willing to take a punt on yourself, the reality of it is, is you’ve taken an enormous amount of action, you’ve taken probably more action than a lot of businesses that I have come across because you knew that there was no other way, so you’re like, “I am either going to do it or I am not going to do it”. And again, this is what I love and I talk about it on lots on my episodes, is the ability to, it’s better to have imperfect action than to have no action at all.

In your instance like you said, things haven’t gone exactly brilliant but they haven’t gone exactly horrible either, you’re still in business, you’re being available for your kids and you still have others things to work on, which again, we all have things to work on, and that’s what I love about this honest conversation, is that so many people they think, “Oh no I don’t want to say that or I don’t want to be vulnerable because that means I don’t have my crap together”, hell none of us have our crap together regardless if you’re starting out or if you have been in business, you know I have been in business for eight years and I still don’t know what the hell I am doing some days.

So, I think it’s important to talk about that and bring awareness for those people who are out there listening, going, “You know what, I am a single mum too or I am a woman in business or I am a man in business,” and again it comes down to choices. People have choices to make and you can either strive to succeed or not to succeed. So well done for being true to yourself, but also well done, you know, for being able to share that story because not many people would be are willing to do that.

Now on top of for those who like going, ”Wow, so she’s..”, theoretically, we will say left a domestic violence situation, has the two boys, she has just started her own business, but on top of this, you also are quite active and have found time to run a charity event. So, I’d love to hear a little about this, because again what I love is that you aren’t just about being in business to take, take, take and you are willing to give back to community. I think this comes done to people’s overall business ethics really.

There are so many people who I know that are just about the dollar. Listen I am not going to sit here and say I that I love money, I really love money, but I also want to be able to make money so that I can give back by creating schools and doing a variety of different things. Where there are some people who just want to buy Ferraris and the Porsches, that’s your choice, that’s fine but I would also say that there will be a level of unhappiness at some stage in your life, and potentially your business would even fail because your ethics are kinda of a little bit, what I would say disproportionate maybe.

So, tell us again on top of everything else you’ve been going through in the last year, tell us a little bit about the charity you run and what that looks like for you?

KATE:

Last year, I was involved with, ironically enough a domestic violence charity for a couple years, I was on the board and just really loved helping people get back on their feet and loved the aspect of it being a hand up, not a hand out and even though these people had been through horrific circumstances they still deserve, you know, the respect and the dignity and the hand up to move forward.

I left that position, it was a volunteer position, I left that around the same time the boys had been diagnosed. I just needed to sort of drop back a little bit with everything. Then last year my kids saw an ad, we were watching television and a commercial came on for the, I think it was the Save the Children organisation, and I am sure we had seen that ad a million times, and I looked at the boys and I was silent, I was quite teary. It was a pretty heavy ad about kids around the world in need and they were quite teary, they’re quite sensitive boys, and that sort of started a discussion about, that even though we don’t have much, we have so much more than a lot of other people and we’re really lucky to have what we’ve have and all that kinda of thing.

So, they decided they wanted to help in some way and they discussed collecting Christmas gifts for kids who many not necessarily get them. So, I researched local charities who would be collecting gifts for, at Christmas, and came across Give It, which is a national charity who do incredible things. They were running a, it’s called the Kids in Care campaign, for the Queensland Government and they were tasked with collecting gifts for Queensland Kids in Care which is between eight and nine thousand kids and gifts that they needed.

So, I contacted them and asked if they needed some help, they said, “Yes”. So, I have experience with organising events and obviously charity work as well. So I put together a little event and thought, you know what, if we got 500 gifts that would be insane. So, we had a little event last year which extended to quite a big event, we had local radio involved, and we ended up with two and a half thousand gifts.

ANGELA:

How amazing is that?

KATE:

It was, we were so excited. We couldn’t believe it, ‘cause here I am picturing a month or so working on this and three people would turn up and that’s probably my mum and my neighbour. I was so worried, and then people just kept coming and bringing gifts and it was so amazing to see, that everyone from the community had just taken the idea on aboard a brought a little gift, and yeah it was a pretty incredible thing being able to contribute that many gifts. So, we’ve decided to do it again this year and we have a fairly ambitious goal of 5,000 gifts this year.

ANGELA:

Yes.

KATE:

So, fingers crossed. But I was actually last week meet with Give It and they have asked me to just take on a temporary role with them to actually run the Kids in Care campaign for Queensland this year. I will be looking after that for the state as well as Little Elf’s project, that’s still going ahead because that contributes to the campaign, but I am also now going to be looking after the whole statewide campaign as well.

ANGELA:

Oh, my goodness. Again by taking action, listening to what your kids needed you to do, you’ve not only have helped give that back to your kids but you’ve given back to community and you have also created opportunity for yourself, you know, because you chose to be an action taker. I mean 2,500 gifts to help all those kids, what a phenomenal thing to be able to do. And I don’t think your goal at all is ambitious I think 5,000 is absolutely achievable. I’d love to connect you with some local Brisbane people, so when we’re done, let me know, there’s a good friend of mine..

KATE:

Thank you.

ANGELA:

..a client of mine, Katie from Mums of Brisbane, she got her entire cohort is just mums from Brisbane, so there’s a few people I think we can get involved in this particular event to hit that 5,000 mark for sure.

KATE:

That would be amazing, thank you.

ANGELA:

No absolutely, and how would they, again I am just thinking of the top of my, there’s Elease from What’s on Four, she is a national brand with a huge presence also in Queensland. There is so many wonderful people that we will be able to connect you will. Yes, I love that you are a giver, I love that you are an action taker, and I love that you’ve taken something that could have been a bad situation or left people dwelling for a very long time and you’ve turned it into something positive.

It’s a refreshing story to hear. Because sometimes it’s like mwat, mwat, you know. Which is fine, but I just love that you have got enthusiasm and I am sure many listeners out there, who regardless if you are a single mum, kids with disabilities, etcetera, that you can gain some inspiration from Kate’s story because it is a true essence of, when you put your mind to something and it’s not all about you, you, you, that good things come full circle.

For the audience though, if they want to know how they can connect with you, Kate, on your business level but equally if they wanted to help contribute to the Christmas rally for those kids who are in the care of the state of Queensland, how can they get in touch with you?

KATE:

My business website which is www.bluewatercreative.com.au and we also Facebook and Instagram and the Little Elf Project is also on Facebook and Instagram as well, just with the username The Little Elf Project and you can contact us by any of those methods and well it is me so I will be the one answering.

ANGELA:

It will be Kate responding to you.

KATE:

It will be me.

ANGELA:

No, fantastic, well Kate Thank you so much for being on the show today and sharing your story. And for those of you who are sitting there going, “This lady, this woman in business is pretty amazing,” I would strongly encourage you to please reach out because again, I’m all about the community coming together to make things better for individuals who may not be having a very good life. So, if you are a business out there listening and you’re able to help Kate and her charity event. When does the charity event start going off?

KATE:

We’ll start putting the word out for collections from the end of October, but the actual event itself is on the 17th of November.

ANGELA:

Alright, fantastic. So, end of October, if you’re sitting there going, “You know what, I don’t have a lot but I can contribute something or I know other people within Queensland that can help Kate out,” or even if they’re a national brand that might be able to help out, please, please, please make sure to get a hold of Kate.

Now my team and I will also be putting together the whole transcription for this episode at www.angelahenderson.com.au so all the links from, to be able to get a hold of Kate and those charities will be listed in that transcription at www.angelahenderson.com.au and of course, I cover all sorts of business related and life topics inside my Facebook group, Australian Business Collaborative. And I’d love to have you guys join me in the community.

But for now, I hope you have a wonderful day no matter where you are in the world. And thanks again Kate for joining us and I look forward to connecting with everyone again soon. Bye!

Thanks for listening to the Business and Life Conversations podcast with Angela Henderson, Starting a Business. www.angelahenderson.com.au.

Angel Henderson Consulting

​​Founder of the highly successful online store Finlee and Me, Angela taps into the decade's worth of knowledge of how to grow a thriving enterprise and pours it into her business consulting clients. As a business consultant, she partners with start up and small businesses to grow their brands through hands on support, ensuring foundations are laid in order to leverage growth. Her skills were honed at the helm of Finlee and Me, where she learned everything from branding, PR, sales funnels, email marketing, website, copy, SEO and more. She knows what it truly takes to have a strong brand, consistence sales, steady growth and over all dedication. Angela has been featured in the media including Talking Lifestyle with Ed Phillips and David Koch, Inside Small Business and on numerous Australia and International podcasts.

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