This week on my Mums in Business series I am delighted to be interviewing Caroline who set-up Pink Spaghetti a Virtual and Personal Assistant business for small business owners. It’s interesting reading Caroline’s story as she explains that juggling the business and family time has become harder as her children have got older, I always thought it was the other way round. Read on to find out about the motto “Just do it” and how Caroline was inspired to set up the business for herself.
Tell me a little bit about you, your background and Pink Spaghetti?
My name is Caroline Gowing, I am 45 and live in Cheshire with my husband and two daughters, aged 13 and 10. Previously in a varied career starting in retail management and ending as a retail IT consultant, I was lucky enough to travel the world working with different companies configuring systems to work for their business, and training users to use the systems effectively.
My business partner Vicky Matthews and I started Pink Spaghetti PA Services in September 2009, a PA service originally just for the domestic market, but we quickly moved into looking after small businesses too. In 2012 we franchised our business, and now have over 30 franchises nationwide.
What were your drivers and motivations for setting up Pink Spahetti?
Vicky and I had met while our first children were just tiny babies, and quickly became firm friends. We both reached a point at the same time where we had a crossroads career wise, Vicky was able to take voluntary redundancy and I had a long term contract come to an end.
As busy working mothers we fully understood the juggle everyone goes through to get through the average day, and as people who were highly organised, and (sadly!) loved organisation and research, the idea on Pink Spaghetti was born. We did it in such a way that we could be there for our family first and foremost, as well as people being there for theirs. When we franchised, we offered the same model to our franchisees, as they would have the same drivers for changing their lives.
How do you balance the business around family and childcare?
That is getting harder by the week as our business is growing! Generally, the business has been set up to ensure we can balance. We are both there for nearly every school run, and in school holidays we tend to reduce certain aspects of our daily role, and start work earlier in the day, which enables us to be there with our children, and we employ staff and franchisees on the same basis, complete flexibility. We can also make time for special assemblies, school runs and life is easier when the children are ill.
As the business grows, and we are meeting franchisees from around the country and get involved in training them, there are occasions when we can’t make the school run – but we both luckily have an amazing network of support at the school gates, and we return the favour on different days.
Since setting up Pink Spaghetti what’s been your biggest success to date?
Without doubt, franchising. We tested the water with our pilot franchisee Andrea in 2012, and grew very slowly for 2 years, changing and perfecting our offering, particularly in training and support. In 2014 we started accelerating out growth and we plan to grow by around 12-16 franchises a year over the next 3 years.
What’s your top tip for anyone who is thinking about setting up their own business?
Just do it! We work with a huge amount of wonderful business owners, and rarely meet anyone who would go back to corporate life. It is hard work, and there are huge highs and lows, but it is so rewarding.
Thank you so much Caroline for agreeing to be featured on my blog today. I have loved reading your story and hearing about your success, and I wish you good luck for the future.
If you would like to be part of my Mums in Business then just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a nose at some of the other businesses I have featured in my series: Making Mumpreneurs, Holisticare, and The Mummy Consultancy.