The relaxation entrepreneur ironically finding it hard to maintain her own work-life balance
Alice Whiteley founded Yawn to help women feel good and relax, but running a startup can be a stressful enterprise. Here is she’s tackled the issue of a work-life balance.
As part of our new Problem Solvers series, run together with KPMG Small Business Accounting, we will be exploring some of the hurdles small business owners have had to overcome, and the lessons and advice they would pass on to other budding entrepreneurs. This time Whiteley explains the pitfalls of stress and overworking yourself, and what led her to create her relaxation company.
Yawn is a nightwear brand for women, established with the mission to make women feel good and help them relax. It was founded by Alice Whiteley back in 2012, and after two years of research, factory hunting and establishing production, the business was officially launched in 2014.
As part of our new Problem Solvers series, we will be exploring some of the hurdles small business owners have had to overcome, and the lessons and advice they would pass on to other budding entrepreneurs.
Whiteley has a background as a high-flying management consultant and her last employed role was very comfortable; it took a big push for her to take the brave step of creating a startup. One of the motivating forces for Whiteley was a car crash on the way back from a meeting with a big client that led her to question what she was doing.
Around this time, while out shopping, she was struck by the lack of characterful, colourful brands of nightwear. This prompted her to start her own brand of flattering pyjamas, with a real focus on relaxation. Ironically, this would prove to be a stressful path, although at the same time something she would go on to find deeply rewarding.
We caught up with Whiteley to hear her tips on balancing work and home-life, which is one of the chief problems she’s had to overcome in her entrepreneurial journey.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in starting and growing your business?
Ensuring my own well-being whilst managing the competing pressures of being a mother and a business owner. One of the main reasons I set up Yawn was to help other women to relax as we live in a very pressurising time.
Ironically in the process I have created a full-on existence for myself a startup can eat you alive unless you are very careful, as it is all encompassing. Initially I found it extremely hard to take a break and was always on. I also findthe financial pressure hard but have grown better atdealing with it.
Were you expecting it to be so stressful?
I had been in business before so luckily was realistic about how intense it can be growing something from scratch.This time round I knew at the outset that I would need to train myself to be focused and patient and not to worry as much about the future.
Why was it particularly important to overcome stress for the future success of your company?
If I am not healthy then the business won’t be as I won’t be able to make clear decisions.
I am improving but it is a work in progress.In the first year or two I found the financial side of things investing our own hard-earned money and knowing we won’t see it back for a very long time very hard to deal with. I have got better, Ifocus on the progress we are making.
What kind of strategy did you draw up to deal with it, and what advice did you seek?
Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Business Advice. She has a BA in English Literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.