I can’t believe we are now on week five of the Mama You Can series. I continue to be inspired by the stories I am being sent by Mama’s who have found themselves work that works, whether it’s going freelance, training or starting up something from home.
This series won’t be going anywhere soon as I have lots more stories to share, so do come and visit us every Thursday for the next in the instalment.
Today we have Jen and Maranda from Property Potential in Surrey. Jen got in contact with me after one of the first Mama You Can articles and as soon as I heard their story I wanted to share it, both because I really loved the idea behind their business (we struggled to find a new home in Surrey when we relocated here) and because it was two Mama’s who met through their children and now run a successful company together!
Very inspiring stuff.
I’ll hand over to Jen to tell their story…
Mama You Can: Property Potential Surrey
Hello – I am Jen I have 3 kids who are 10, 9 & 8 and four years ago now, Maranda (who has 2 girls aged 10 and 7) and I, set up a property search consultancy.
We both used to be in PR and although we both enjoyed our London careers (I also did a stint in Singapore) once we had had children and moved out we both wanted to do something that used our communication skills and creativity, but that was closer to home.
We realised that the local knowledge we had built up by living here in Surrey for a couple of years was invaluable to newbies, and felt that if we had met someone whose brains we could pick, when we had been house hunting, it would have been amazingly helpful as both moved blind (well apart from things we learnt through the internet).
Maranda had also bought a house that she had knocked down and rebuilt, and had gained a huge amount of experience in terms of contacts in the building industry. She also has a fantastic eye for looking at the potential in a house and is forever re doing floor plans of houses we have seen plans for people, which really opens their eyes to the opportunity’s of any house.
Taking all those skills and the experience of moving areas with young children in tow, where you knew nobody, we felt was a gap in the market for a hand holding service, which also answered the all important questions of; how do you get access to the best houses on the market first? How do you crack the private / discreet market and where are the nicest places to live?
Maranda and I met at the village toddler group when our youngsters were around 2.
I had been freelancing for 2 years and was finding it pretty lonely, not helped by the fact that I was working for an American company, so I was having my meetings with the employers in the evening around 7/8pm, which worked well from a childcare perspective but it made for really long days, when you were up with the kids from 6am.
Maranda had thrown herself into school life and was running not only the toddler group but was chairing the Village school’s PTA and running a local Christmas fair. We knew we both had the energy and gusto to try and get something off the ground ourselves, so started discussing on our runs and dog walks what we could do that would work with our childcare responsibilities but that we felt also served a purpose, which was important to both of us.
The idea formulated over a year. We went about it as professionally as we could. We met both mentors in the industry, local estate agents and went to see business advisors to make sure that what we were thinking off, wasn’t just a ‘hobby’ that seemed a nice thing to do but that actually had a business plan to it and a market, so that it would succeed.
We were lucky in the fact that we felt we had nothing to lose. We said if it didn’t work then we’d just go and get a ‘real job’ but we were so supported by friends and our partners that the enthusiasm kept us going forward and even now, we get calls all the time from other mothers thinking of going it alone and we feel like we can mentor people back and give them the encouragement they need to at least give it a go.
We are so proud of what we have achieved. We get a real buzz from finding a family a home, knowing that they would not have found it without us and it is such a personal thing that means to much to people to be part of that journey, is an honour really.
We are growing every year in terms of the number of clients we help. We have no great plans to expand the business into other counties, (although as we so closely border Hampshire and West Sussex, we do stray across to them) as we feel that our local expertise is our USP.
We have found that more and more Surrey ‘locals’ use us too, to take advantage of our contacts and access to off market houses. Because everyone has such busy lives, getting us to do the leg work and them only seeing real ‘contender’s’ is a huge timesaver for them.
Another stream of business which we hadn’t considered when we set up was helping widows. Many are downsizing from large family homes and making the move to a smaller place on their own can be very daunting. They really appreciate our helping with the negotiating side of things, which can be very stressful at the best of times. It is an area we hadn’t considered when we started but along with our lovely London and expat families, it is very rewarding. A tear has been shed when we find them the property they feel is the ‘perfect one’ for them.
What advice would you give other mama’s?
Do your research make sure that your venture will make money, or it won’t be worth all the effort you need to put in to start it up from scratch.
Don’t feel embarrassed to ask others who have experience in what you are thinking of setting up for help and advice. We were encouraged and given really great advice by people we didn’t know that well. Everyone we asked to meet for an informal chat over coffee said yes and we learnt so much from these meetings.
Jen and Maranda, Property Potential Surrey
Thanks so much to Jen and Maranda for sharing their story. If only I had know about you both when I moved from London to Surrey I might have been in a very different area/it would have been easier!
You can follow the Mama You Can series on this blog every Thursday. If you’re a mama thinking about changing your career direction check back next week or if you want to share your story, please do get in touch.