Virgin Unite is part of the global movement celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. Today we’re profiling one of our entrepreneurs from the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship South Africa, Claire Reid.
Claire spoke to us about the realities of working and parenting, her thoughts on children joining the family business and how business needs to change to better support working mothers.
Which woman do you admire as a role model in business? Nicky Newton King, CEO of Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
What advice would you give to young women who have a business idea or are thinking of starting a business? It is the scariest thing to take the first step, but just do it. It is the hardest but most rewarding thing I have ever done and now that I am currently setting up a second business I am finding it far easier the second time around. I am a first time mom with a six month old baby and I have found the last six months of raising a child far more difficult than starting a business so if you think you could handle motherhood than you definitely can start up a business!
In what positive way has motherhood changed how you approach your business? It has taught me to value and approach time in a different way. It has taught me to delegate which is a skill I have battled with as a very hands on entrepreneur. And more obviously, it has taught me to be more empathetic to employee family needs as I now have first hand experience.
What is the biggest challenge for you in running your business now you have your son? Being present and being as productive as I am used to with less time and far less sleep!
What advice would you give your son if he wanted to join the family business? I would encourage him to start up his own business that addresses his own passion and inspires him.
How could business change to include more women, especially those with families? I have exclusively breast fed my son and I found that trying at times. Business needs to understand the importance of this simple human need and cater to it. I created a breast feeding / play room in my office and it has made all the difference. I can bring my son to work and feed him on demand. I wish I had done this sooner to help the moms that work for me but I didn’t realise the importance of it then. Business also needs to enable moms to work flexible hours so that they don’t have to choose between children or work, they can have both. My approach is that as long as the expected work gets done, my staff can choose how and when.
Can you give us a quick update on Reel Gardening and any latest developments since we last spoke in the summer? We are in current talks with an international distribution company and are looking to launch in a few international countries in 2016. We have moved into bigger offices which are really nice and have enabled me to bring my son to work. We have expanded our social programme on the ground, and now support 22 entrepreneurs around South Africa who we hire to do our training and we have equipped to sell our product with them making the profit.
Read more from the Virgin Unite International Women's Day series.