A business can’t exist without a human to inspire it.

How becoming self employed has changed my life

Since becoming self employed in 2018, things have changed immensely. But, things started to change in 2016 when the idea of working for myself really started to seem like the right path.

I’ve never had much confidence in myself, I overthink, I undervalue myself and I’m just not great with decision making. Or so I thought. The last four years have been like a roller-coaster. I’ve had that light-bulb moment when I suddenly knew this was what I wanted to do. I’ve done courses, questioned every decision I had made and then I got pregnant in the middle of it all, just to really spice things up. As if I wasn’t feeling uncertain enough, pregnancy and breastfeeding hormones really got me under a spell. I reached a point where I felt like I was a complete failure and I was in shock that my business wasn’t booming after 6 months with not a huge amount of effort. Go figure. I’ve had so many ups and downs in the last four years but particularly in the last 2.5 years. I’ve grown and birthed a human, breastfed him for over two years and I’m still surviving on broken sleep and caffeine. All of this while trying to build a business from scratch and learn about the business world at the same time.

My background is working with children, they fascinate me (less so when I’ve had less than 5 hours sleep but that’s why they’re cute) and I’ve always had a passion to make a difference to children’s lives. I worked as a child minder, pre-school leader and childcare worker before I stumbled across a course called ‘Forest School Leader Training’. I was instantly interested in what the course consisted of and the week of practical skills and hands on earning was a week that I will never forget. I met people I would never have usually spent any time with. I learned bush craft skills I’ve always secretly wished I could do and I came home every evening utterly exhausted from it.

Fast forward six months and I’m doing a Start Your Own Business course through Roscommon Local Enterprise Office and another two months after that I’ve entered my business idea into Leitrim’s Best Young Entrepreneur Awards. I was networking, learning, connecting and drowning all at the same time. All of this was way over my head and I had spent my life just kind of drifting through what was expected of me. I had reached a point where my parents or teachers weren’t pushing me to do my homework or fill in that form. I was on my own. I was free. I was lost.
I ended up coming Runner Up in the Best New Idea category but I didn’t go to the awards ceremony. Why? I just decided that I wasn’t going to get anything and mainly, I didn’t want to go alone and have to talk to people. Talking to people. I hated it.
Throughout this whole process I was being told how brilliant my business idea was, how innovative and unique it was. I was shocked every time and honestly, I didn’t believe them. I couldn’t see past my own judgements and criticisms of what I was doing.
But, I was doing it. On some level, I knew this was a good idea.

In 2017, I went to work in a creche while I was pregnant because I couldn’t imagine facing into setting up a business while I was incubating a precious life that drained every ounce of my energy (not much has changed since then). When my maternity leave finished and I had handed in my notice, I started my official journey as a self-employed mum. I hid from a lot of things, I hated making calls and stuck to emails (we all know how useless emailing can be when making contact with someone for the first time) and generally making excuses and justifications for not pushing myself harder.

In 2019, I did a group course with a life coach and it has changed my perspective in so many ways. It opened my eyes. I felt like I had just been given glasses and I was able to see clearly for the first time in over 20 years. My life before that course was mostly out of focus. I gained clarity, confidence and a true sense of me through that course and it has impacted every aspect of my life. In the last couple of months, that work has been reiterated through my own self-improvements and personal development journey. My work on myself has improved my work on my business. By figuring out my values, I’ve been able to hone in on what I want to achieve through my work. I’m starting to live more in line with my values than ever before. My life now, is what I dreamt of and what I believed I never would have. I’m living how I’ve always wanted to live. I feel positive, excited and worthy of the belief others have had in me from the beginning. I believe in what I’m doing and who I am.

Every single thing that I’ve felt or done has served me in some shape or form and I am so happy that I took the plunge to work for myself and although, I may still be working my way through website design and digital marketing plans, I believe I can be successful in my business for me and my family.

Since 2016, I have built up a reputation with my workshops, I love writing and sharing my writing with others, I enjoy being on camera and get excited about a challenge. I’m still tired and often question what I’m doing but now I have a belief in myself and my actions that I never did before. By working on me, I created a better business because I am and always will be the heart of my business. I am the most important thing about my business. If someone else was running it, it would be different. That’s not to say, I won’t delegate jobs and tasks but I will be remembering to focus and invest in me (and future team members) because a business can’t exist without a human to inspire it.

We all have a story to tell and a message only we can portray. Each and every one of us has a different set of filters and values so no two people will ever experience something in the exact same way. The more we share, the more we lighten the load for others to carry.
For me, becoming self employed has changed my life.

Jessica O’Rourke | Mud Bugs
Jess, mother of one, lives in Leitrim and has worked with children her whole working life. Jess set up Mud Bugs in 2018 as a way of connecting children and families with nature.
Mud Bugs offers courses and workshops for children and families to connect them with nature and support their physical and mental well-being. Jess has trained as a level 3 Forest School Leader in the UK and has invested a lot of time and energy in creating a philosophy that benefits more and more families in Ireland.

Jess wants to educate, motivate and support families and professionals to connect with nature to reap the benefits it has to offer.

www.instagram.com/mudbugs.ie #learning

My small business and coping with Covid-19’s impact

What I do is not widely known or understood, It’s a small business with just me, but I am still important. I am important to my clients, the community, my family, the taxman and more.

 I am a postpartum Doula. My role is to provide practical, informative and emotional support to a mum, her baby and family unit post birth in their home. At a time when there is often little or no support when a new baby is brought home having a Doula can make all the difference. Knowing you as a parent of a newborn can get fact based information, have a non judgemental ear to hear you and someone to help around the house can be priceless. Knowing you can have food made for you, get time to rest, have older children entertained while you bond with baby or check in with your partner will make a life long difference. 

I would usually meet with a potential client while she is in the fourth trimester. We meet for a cuppa and have a chat, this way we can both see if we like each other. This is very important as I will be the person who sees this mom at possibly her worst. We then arrange a second meet usually in the clients home and this is where we get down to business. We discuss what she and her partner see as needed support, this can look very different in each house. I listen to what is important to them as a couple and family, what they want out of having a Doula and I explain what I see is the best way to provide this support. We discuss what days and times would work best, do up a package and book them into the diary. I also am happy to support those who have already had their baby. My motto is, there is no limit on the time frame of when you may need support. 

 I also run a Bump & Baby meet which takes place on the first Friday of each month in The Blind Tiger, Sligo. The aim of this group meet is to bring together those expecting or with babies to provide a safe place to be, to meet others, build their village of support and have me as a sounding bar for fact based information or a listening ear. These meets started last October and we have had up on 24 mums, babies and those expecting at the meet. 

How has Covid-19 affected my business?  

As you have read above I work in my clients homes and unfortunately that can’t happen now. I have for now had to rethink how I can support my clients and when will I actually be able to get back out to new clients homes? Can I take bookings, will I be able to honour them? So many questions and not so many answers. For now I along with many of my colleagues from the Doula Association of Ireland are offering 30 minute virtual support sessions for free, that’s what we feel is best for now. 

 My Bump & Baby Meet took place on Zoom this month and that worked well but its not the same. I have decided to do weekly meets on Zoom where I will bring in another professional to do a Q&A to add further support. I feel this is the best I can do right now. 

 It’s all really all up in the air right now, I feel we all see that. I ask myself often where will my business be after all this? Will having a Doula be an even bigger attraction when people have seen how much support was missed. Will people have the money or will they see this as a vital service to enhance their parenting journey so make this spending a priority?  Who knows any of these answers. Let’s wait and see, we still have to get to the other side and that in itself is a challenge for many of us be it business wise or just in general.  

Michelle Doherty,





Better Together

We are a resilient nation, we work better together, we will come through this, but how to do that the best possible way is the question. Only by helping each other out is the way, as business owners we all face the same demon, the hidden one, the one that has no boundaries or faces.

We have an obligation to undo the unthinkable that has happened, we must all play our part to reset our nation and our national pride. We have a wealth of knowledge between us and we need to exploit that.

Working as teams in our chosen profession and with our collective minds we can come up with the solutions to reboot our economic situation. Waiting for this crisis to end is and will be to late, now is the time to come up with an action plan to get our economy going again.

While our staff will be rested from the labors of work, their minds will be exhausted from all that has happened, some will still be grieving the loss of loved ones family and friends. Work will be a welcome break from the trauma of isolation. We will need to get money back into their pockets and get them back spending so the economy can grow again.

We are the Key to the solution, and while government can do so much they are not the back bone of the country We Are.

Been part of this business forum, to share knowledge, provide solutions, ask questions and come up with ideas and drives your business forward while helping like minded people across the island of Ireland. Remember WE is the most important word in this blog.

Keep safe, stay focused and have faith in yourself and your business and most importantly in your fellow citizens to help us all bounce back from Covid-19.

Eddie Mulrooney