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How Leanne started a business that gets thousands of women up and running...

Please tell us a bit about the nature of your business...

Run Mummy Run is an online running community for women, predominantly on Facebook but across various other social media channels too and we also have our own website. Our aim is to support, encourage and motivate our women to lead happier healthier lives through running no matter their ability, shape, size or background.

What inspired you to start your business?

I became a mum for the second time and being to able to run at my local club in the evenings became difficult. It always crossed over with bed-times and my husband had changed jobs so often wasn’t back in time. I missed the motivation I got from mixing with like-minded women so one morning I decided to create a Facebook group for myself and two running friends. This enabled us to arrange runs together or just simply motivate each other if one of us had to go out running alone. A group that started as three friends has to date grown to 60,000 females in the UK and Ireland with a few in Europe and the rest of the world.

What was the most challenging aspect of building your business in the beginning?

I would say the sheer exhaustion and hard work. For roughly three years solid I worked every day and evening. This included weekends, holidays and even Christmas day. As I didn't borrow money to grow the business I had to let it grow organically so I did it all myself. I had no business or commercial knowledge, everything I needed to know was googled or self-taught . I found it incredibly hard not having a boss to go to when I needed someone's support - I was the boss so I had to get on with it and learn it all myself.

If you were to launch your business again, would you do anything differently?

I would probably be more confident to politely say no if someone offered a collaboration that wasn't right. In the early days I was so keen to please and not offend anyone I would sometimes agree to work with others or collaborate with people even if there was no benefit to me or the business. Collaborations are fantastic if both parties benefit but it's also fine to thank people for their kind offer and politely decline because you don't feel there is a benefit for your business. If they are good business people they will completely understand.

What keeps you motivated?

Well obviously running and exercise is a huge motivator for me. It sets me up for the day and I'm so much more productive after! My second motivator would be seeing the change in some of our women from when they join our community to a year down the line. We have such a cross section of ladies all joining for different reasons. Many join for motivation whether they are starting out as a runner or to help keep them running. A lot join for health reasons to help them keep a balanced healthy weight. Some are with us to combat mental health or confidence issues, some to cope with bereavement. Others may be single mothers who just want a like-minded support network. We see amazing transformations with many members and it's a delight to see our members grow and feel empowered. When I meet women at events and they tell me their success stories I'm so proud of them, it makes me very happy.

How do you balance work and family life?

Unfortunately I don't have the magic answer to this. As I said the first three years with the business was the hardest work I'd ever done. The children were young so the only way I could manage was to work a few hours in the day and then solidly all evening. Three years in and the business finally started making money and I was able to stretch to a part time admin person and things got progressively better. Five years on and we have 8 main staff and 32 volunteers. My phone is full of apps and has access to every part of the business so I do a lot of the work on the go, this includes in post office queues, waiting in the doctors receptions and walking to meetings, it's the only way I can manage my business alongside the home, children and school craziness. As the business grows however I know it will get easier. I think when you have a family and run your own business you have to accept the challenge and learn to be a master juggler!

What’s your proudest business moment?

My proudest moment was the launch of the Run Mummy Run book in January. The book is the go-to guide for any female runner and covers couch to 5k (beginner level) and beyond! It's packed with every bit of information you would need as a female runner from kit, nutrition, female worries, races, training plans, motivation and inspirational success stories (plus loads more). When I walked into my local Waterstones book shop and saw it on the shelf I did have one of those pinch me moments.

What’s been your most successful form of marketing and/ or brand awareness?

Our most successful form of marketing has been having our brand/logo on the clothing we sell. Our running kit is worn by thousands of runners at big and small races up and down the country. Having our logo and website on the clothing has been the biggest form of marketing for us. As long as we make make beautiful kit that our ladies want to wear then they will wear it with pride and our name is seen everywhere by other women and also other brands. We have gained many opportunities with brands because they contacted us after seeing our women in our kit at a race.

Do you have any positive habits or routines that you feel have attributed to your success?

I've always promoted kindness and paying it forward in every day life, I've tried to live by this rule wherever I go. This has ended up being Run Mummy Run's ethos and under pins everything we do. I always aim to be positive too and carry this with me through work and to our community. Our women love these core values and start to live by the same message. I'm a strong believer that positivity breeds positivity and your behaviour can cause a ripple effect. In my case it has and it's lovely to see.

What's your favourite business app/ tool/ book/ podcast etc?

App/Tool: Asana Management - This organises my whole life and has the ability to separate via department so you can invite different teams to share tasks or work on projects with you. You can set deadlines, make notes as you go and it has been a game changer for me whilst spinning so many plates.

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs just starting out?

Be ready for some hard work, starting out takes courage, sweat and a lot of passion! Embrace mistakes, you will learn from every one. Be present on social media, if you don't understand it then get to understand it. Don't underestimate the power it can bring your business, it built my full-time business from the ground up, for free. I think social media is one of, if not the best marketing tool there is out there right now, you need to be using it.

Completely trust your gut instinct, you're usually right! Make sure your brand looks polished, perfect and professional. Don't cut corners with your marketing, logos or overall brand look. You could be fantastic at what you do yet people look at your brand and if it looks shabby or half-hearted it's an instant reflection on your product or service and people will be put off. Finally take time to discover your businesses ethos and core values, you can intertwine your own personal beliefs into this. These will be what people base your brand on. Write them down and make sure they underpin every decision you make. Good luck! With passion inside you anything is possible!

If you want to get in touch or see more of Leanne's venture, head over to her website or social media:

Run Mummy Run

As always, if you're not already a member of our Mothers of Enterprise Society FREE FB Group, we'd love to have you! Simply click here to request to join.

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