Inspiring Individual - Amanda Seabrook

Amanda Seabrook, founder of Workpond, tells Inspired Mums how her passion for helping people work flexibly inspired her to create a new concept in employment, a marketplace for flexible work.

You clearly have a real passion for helping mums find flexible work; tell us about how you discovered this was the right career path for you…

Timing meant that we were mid-move back from Australia, where I had been working as an Investment Analyst, when I became pregnant with my first child. This made it very hard to find a job in London in the same line of work, especially as I wanted to work part-time – so I took a career break. I really enjoyed immersing myself in motherhood, but was always wondering what I would do – or could do – if and when I returned to work. My friends and I would talk incessantly about it – and I felt very strongly that businesses could benefit from all of our talents, if only they were more flexible. With my older two in school, and having passed the first birthday of my third child, I felt a real urge to do something about it and set up Workpond.

What made you decide to change career and start your own business?

I’m not sure that I had much of a choice. At the time, there were no ‘Women Returner’ schemes running, so returning to the City didn’t seem an option. Luckily, I have always had an entrepreneurial streak and finally I felt that I had an idea that I really wanted to run with – and went with it.

What was the inspiration behind the Workpond?

I met the husband of a friend at a dinner party who ran a Private Equity business from home. When he discovered what I had done previously, he asked if I could work for him on a freelance basis doing some research. I thought that if you connected all people wanting to work flexibly with small businesses, it would solve two problems in one – helping SMEs find the skills they needed for the time needed and allow parents, early retirees etc. to be able to work in ways that suited them better. I then did some research and discovered that in the UK there are 2.3 million people who are economically inactive and wishing to work (far more than are unemployed). This shocked me – mothers, fathers, early retirees, students who would work if they could find flexibility. Once I knew this, there was no stopping me. 

What do you love most about the work you do?

It’s no longer me – its great to be doing something that you love in a team of people who are equally passionate about it. It feels like we are working for a ‘cause’. It’s also incredibly satisfying when we convert a full-time job into several much better part-time roles. We know that it will improve the outcome for our clients while helping our candidates find really stimulating roles that can work for them. 

What’s the most challenging aspect of being your own boss? 

Stopping. When you are running your own business, it will only go at the pace you set. If you slow down, so will the business. I find school holidays really hard – I continue working, but inevitably I work less than during the term, so that I can spend time with the children. I have to fight the ‘guilt’ that I feel and the worry that it is damaging the business. 

How do you find balance in your life?

I feel very lucky that I am able to work while being my children’s primary carer. Right now in my life, work and family are the two main things that I am trying to balance. Friends/dinner parties/coffees have all had to take a bit of a back seat for now – and sport just doesn’t get a look in - but I hope to be able to catch up on that later. I have had enormous fun expanding my business network, however. Work and life have become intertwined and I’ve made lots of friends – not just through the team I have around me, but clients, partners etc. 

What advice would you give other business owners about how and when to expand the team?

When you are very small, it is hard as you will have little money to spare – so you need to make sure your first hires will generate revenue to pay for themselves. Make the roles flexible and on a contract basis. Review regularly. ‘Give away’ the tasks that you are the least keen on as these are probably the ones that you are not as good at. Use technology where you can – to keep your processes efficient. As you get larger, you should take time to create a comprehensive resource plan – ensuring that you don’t bundle more than one job together – keep roles separate and bring in specialists - part-time and remote of course! 

How would you recommend people successfully negotiate some flexibility at work?

Put yourself in the shoes of your boss or team and work out your plan from their perspective. Try to understand what difficulties your flexibility will create for the team and find ways to mitigate the risk of this happening. Consider some ‘two-way flexibility’. While job sharing is always an option, you could also consider narrowing the depth of your role and encouraging them to split your responsibilities so that your role shrinks and they can hire someone to take the other part of your role, part-time. 

What advice would you give other mums considering starting their own business?

Make sure you really believe in what you are doing. Money may not come as quickly as you imagined, so you will need something much more than that to keep you going.


If you are a small business or just starting up and require help with your resource planning or recruitment, please contact Workpond on 01252 792243.

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