I’m delighted to share my interview with the Founders of Real Entrepreneur Mums, Alison Valenti and Sophie Musumeci!
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My Interview with Alison Valenti & Sophie Musumeci: Real Entrepreneur Mums Founders
1. Tell me about yourselves?
Alison Valenti – I am a Sydney mum of three children aged 8, 6 and 4. I love running and particularly early morning runs. This is my time to get pumped for the day, get strong and fit both in body and mind. Last year I achieved one of my personal goals that I had set for myself and that was to compete in a triathlon.
Sophie Musumeci – I’m happily married…most of the time (laughs) with two delicious children Toby (6) and Stella (3). I’ve lived all around Australia and happily call Sydney home now. I love a challenge and inspiring others to think bigger and just go for it.
2. Tell us about your self-employed business?
We are the founders of Real Entrepreneur Mums. Real Entrepreneur Mums is a business referral networking group for women.
We started this company because we saw a movement happening. A movement where women from varying industries are starting their own businesses. These women want to be present with their families without sacrificing their desires to create an incredible business that is personally fulfilling and financially rewarding.
As small business owners ourselves with young families, we saw the power of word of mouth referrals. Whilst there are some great networking opportunities out there, we realised there was a need for an inspiring, supportive platform where members can raise their profiles, and increase business revenue through referrals. Real Entrepreneur Mums has built a culture of raving fans.
In July 2016 we tapped 18 awesome business women on the shoulder and shared our vision with them. They jumped in on the spot telling us it was exactly what they were looking for. Their response gave us all the proof we needed to get started.
3. How did you transition to working for yourself?
Alison – When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, we decided as a family that I would resign from my corporate career and be a stay at home mum. After a couple of months, I decided that I would continue to study and pursue my passion for training and personal development. Over the next 12 months I launched my first business venture. Developing my skills in online marketing and micro business I began to work with start-up businesses and help them launch and scale.
Sophie – The day I came home from my corporate job and realise that my son Toby had more of his polish nanny’s mannerisms that either Daniel’s or mine, I knew I needed to think differently about how I wanted to grow my career with a family. When Stella was born I took 12 months off and started a social marketing business. I invested every spare minute into learning all I could about growing a home based business, mindset and managing the daily juggle that comes with growing a business and raising a family.
4. What was your previous career?
Alison – Previously I worked for one of the world’s largest insurance companies as a Commercial Underwriter. I managed a team of underwriters which is where I developed my passion for training, development and mentoring.
Sophie – My corporate career spans 10+ years in Change Management, Leadership and Training in multiple top 100 Australian Companies. My passion is for creating a workplace culture where teams are highly engaged and enjoy coming to work.
5. Describe a typical day in your working life?
We are so extremely lucky because every day we are surrounded by inspiring, motivated and highly determined women. Women who are ready to go after their dreams and smash their goals. Being around that culture we can’t help but work harder than ever before to smash our own goals.
The morning hustle includes getting ourselves and our kids ready for the day, packing lunches, finding shoes and kisses and hugs at the school gate.
Then we do the “Real Switch”. The Real Switch is a technique we teach our members about how to change from mum mode to business mode, no matter what has happened in your morning, you can make the switch and become focused.
During the morning we attend one of the networking events that are happening around Sydney, where we get to experience one of our member’s businesses and truly understand what they do and what makes them truly unique.
Our afternoons are back in our home offices, answering emails, calling all the guests that would like to attend an event and video conference interviews with potential leaders.
In the evenings once the kids are in bed, it’s back to work. Training our leaders, hosting webinars for our members, writing articles for our monthly magazine.
6. How many hours do you work per week on your business?
In the beginning we both were working one day a week and a couple of nights. Now we are both working about 40 hours a week.
7. Do you supplement your income in any other ways?
Alison – Currently I still work as a business coach with a number of private clients to help them start and grow their business.
Sophie – I’ve been fortunate to still consult as a Change & Leadership expert two days a week. I also earn an income from my social marketing business I grew over the past three years. We are also very fortunate that Daniel has a stable job that he loves which has allowed me to really go hard on my entrepreneur journey.
8. How do you manage your family and working for yourself?
It’s always a juggle and communication to our husbands is highly important, making sure they are aware of our travel dates and when we need to work over the weekends.
Both of us still have children who aren’t in school yet, so they attend child care a couple of days a week. However, with our business rapidly expanding across Australia this year we have had to seek additional support.
It’s lucky that our kids have so much fun together. Sophie and I might meet at a café, or a play centre or just go to each other’s houses and the kids play and we work. We get interrupted a lot but at least we get some work done.
9. What challenges did you face in setting up your business?
Our biggest challenge was how to scale our business. It was exciting opening our first few networking groups in Sydney. But that was never going to provide us with a profitable business. We needed to find a way to open many groups in all areas which weren’t reliant on us being at each meeting.
We found a mentor that challenged our thinking and helped us to find solutions to our problems. He also guides us in areas that are not our forte such as the financial side of business. We are definitely not numbers people, but we are learning.
10. What’s the best thing about working for yourself?
We absolutely love what we do, so it never actually feels like work. What we love is fresh new ideas so we are always coming up with ways we can add more value to our members and get creative with our marketing. So, there is always a fun project to work on and launch.
11. What’s your best advice to another mum who is considering setting up her own business?
Surround yourself with people who inspire you and have your back. Sometime we don’t get all the support we need from the people close to us. It is important you find your community of people that believe in what you are doing and provide you with that support.
12. What’s next for you and your business?
This year 2018 is all about expanding right across Australia. Our goal is to have Communities in all capital cities.
We are more than confident that we will achieve this goal and once we do, we will be expanding globally.
I hope you enjoyed my interview with Alison and Sophie from Real Entrepreneur Mums!