Kelly Wales, from teacher to entrepreneur
Kelly Wales recognised the importance of building a community among working military spouses who feel isolated and in need of support. Kelly founded Military Mums in Business to do just that.
What is your career background?
I left Loughborough University with a degree in Computing and Management and went on to work in industry for a few years before deciding to train as a Primary School teacher. I taught for many years before being promoted to Assistant Headteacher. Since having my children I have worked part-time as a teacher but this has become difficult due to our short military postings.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Since leaving a career in teaching I wanted to start a business which I could work round my children and frequent homes moves.. I have chosen to change my career because of circumstance and I know many other wives have also had to re-train or start their own business. I wanted to bring us together in one place, so that we can support each other and create a business network.
How did you move from the ‘idea’ to the actual business?
I attended a free 5 day course ran by PopUp Business School. They gave me the confidence I needed to turn my idea into reality. They provided practical advice, workshops, information and support. I also spoke to other spouses in business, who were telling me they needed a business network.
What have been the main high and lows in starting your own business?
The main low to begin with was definitely self belief, the constant battle with ‘am I good enough, do I know enough?’ And I’m sure I will continue to have this battle every day. However I am truly passionate about building a successful business network to help as many spouses in business as I can. The highs are definitely messages of gratitude from my members, thanking me for given them a platform to showcase their business but also giving them the opportunity to network.
Can you describe / outline your typical day
After the children are at school I spend about an hour a day online across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook connecting with female spouses. I find out about their business and ask them if they would like to collaborate with me. I then send time scheduling posts and writing content, to ensure the piece about them will reach a wide audience.
I will try and go LIVE in my Facebook group to speak directly to my members. I will pass on information from training courses and have an open discussion.
I will organise Networking events in my local area, book speakers and advertise the events.
I work in the evenings after the children are in bed, on self-development. I take part in online courses and research information which I know will benefit my members.
I also try and fit in spinning, the gym and meeting friends for the occasional cuppa or two!!
What motivates you?
Knowing that I am providing a platform for military wives to showcase their businesses in an environment which they know is supportive. I am passionate about helping people.
What has been your proudest moment?
Receiving messages of gratitude from the women who I have met and helped. Also being contacted by companies asking whether our members would like to collaborate with them.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
It has given me back a feeling of self-worth, which in-turn has given me back the confidence i lost when i stopped teaching. I work when the children are at school and once they have gone to bed. At the moment I am trying to maintain a good balance, as managing various social media accounts and being present within my members group can be time consuming.
What three adjectives describe your strengths?
Personable, resilient, passionate.
As a military spouse, what has been your biggest obstacle when trying to balance work/kids/your spouses’ military commitments?
I started Military Mums In Business to eliminate the struggle of trying to balance work with raising a young family. Not having a support network around us has been the most challenging aspect of our lives.
What advice would you give fellow Military spouses who want to get back into work, retrain for a new career or start their own business?
Do not view change as a negative aspect of military life, change can bring new and exciting opportunities. Invest in yourself, and attend as many courses being offered to you as you can. This will help you to make the choice as to whether you go back to work or to start your own business.