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Business skills


Michelle Mone

According to Michelle Mone, creator of international lingerie brand, Ultimo, mums have great entrepreneurial skills - just from being a mum. Here she explains why.

Why mums are good at business

Michelle Mone set up the Ultimo lingerie company in 1996 after going to a business dinner with her husband, Michael, wearing a cleavage-enhancing bra that pinched. Trying to smile through the pain, she suddenly thought, "This bra is ridiculous. I should invent a comfortable one." So she did. Since then, Ultimo has gone on to become one of Scotland's biggest exports with a £40m retail turnover. In January last year, Michelle was awarded an OBE for her contribution to business. And she's done all this while raising her three children, Rebecca, 19, Declan, 15 and Bethany, 11. But then, according to Michelle, mums are perfectly skilled to start and run a business. Here, she reveals why...

Reason 1: You already run a small corporation - your family
"Mothers are particularly good at multi-tasking and time-juggling and tend to have a higher emotional intelligence than men, which are all valuable characteristics for operating at board level. In running a business, you have to prioritise and make decisions every day in the best interests of your company, just like you already do in your everyday life. 'Fail to plan, plan to fail' is one of my mottos and applying that to my life is how I manage to spin lots of plates at once."

Reason 2: You take calculated risks all the time
"Nothing is more important than the safety and welfare of your children and you're very used to deciding what's best for them. You're well-practised at identifying the pros and cons when it comes to family life so there's no reason you can't apply that to your business life, too. All the mistakes I've made, however big or small, I see as lessons learnt. And intuition is a powerful business tool. If you're stuck on a decision, just follow your instincts, even if everyone's telling you otherwise."

Reason 3: You handle finances daily
"Just because it's the housekeeping doesn't mean you can't apply your financial acumen to bigger budgets. And, as with any other aspect of running your own company, if there's an area you don't feel comfortable with, you have to recognise the skills and traits you don't possess, and hire people who have them, like accountants."

Reason 4: You're passionate about what you do
Your kids are already testament to what you can achieve when you put your heart into something. Don't listen to the nay-sayers - if you have the fire in your belly, go for it! What drives me is still the need to be the best. You have to build on that passion and never become complacent, just like you never can be with your kids."

Reason 5: You're dedicated and hardworking
"A happy family doesn't come without putting in effort and time, and neither does a successful business. Mums have a head start in understanding this because we're never off-duty and we know, more than anyone, that we have to put in the hours to make something a success. As a mother of three, I know how hard it can be managing the house, children and career - but it can be done. And it is worth it. We saved and saved, re-mortgaged our house and ploughed every last penny into getting the business off the ground. It was a big risk and it was terrifying. But it worked for us."

Reason 6: You're already an excellent listener, communicator, negotiator and mediator
"Think about the daily squabbles between your children and their siblings or friends and how you mostly (!) find a happy resolution for them. That patience is invaluable in business when listening to the concerns of employees and suppliers, and reaching a satisfactory outcome to take your business forward. As is listening. Everyone's opinion is as important as the next person's and my team knows they can come to me with their thoughts anytime – just as my kids do."


If you're thinking about starting a business, take a look at Starting your own business


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Last updated: over 3 years ago