For many small businesses, social media can be low on the priority list. With so many important jobs to do there’s simply not enough time to set up an Instagram account or refine your Twitter or Facebook strategy – not through want of trying. Yet, those businesses who are successfully adopting social media can see huge benefits. And we’re not talking about huge brands. Just look at our recent blog with Etsy seller Bettie Confetti.
Nikki Cochrane, and her co-founder of Digital Mums, Kathryn Tyler, saw an opportunity to help small businesses develop their social media strategy whilst also solving another problem – the lack of flexible careers for mums. We caught up with Nikki to find out more about the ingenious business model that drives Digital Mums.
What did you both do before you set up Digital Mums?
I discovered my love of social media, digital and innovation at the most famous ad agency in the world, M&C Saatchi. I worked directly for the founders and their passion and make-it-happen approach to business rubbed off on me. I took my learnings, completed a degree in Psychology as a mature student and by chance, met my fabulous co-founder, Kathryn Tyler, on a yoga retreat. As well as a love of yoga, we shared the same beliefs, drive and desire to build a business with social impact at the heart of it.
Kathryn has worked with some of the most innovative schools around the world, including the Innovation Unit. One of the inspirational programmes Kathryn worked alongside was the Global Education Leaders Programme funded by the Gates Foundation, whose mission was to transform the way countries teach and students learn. In particular, Kathryn spent a lot of time alongside the team that worked on their REAL Projects programme. This is where she took inspiration for our innovative Digital Mums training.
How did you come to launch Digital Mums?
Our first venture together was our own social media agency, which we set up to support local businesses in Hackney – where we both live and where Digital Mums was born. We were overwhelmed with how many small businesses needed help to build and manage their social media presence. We knew we needed to take on more people and realised that mums would be the perfect solution.
Kathryn knew she could take her Innovation Unit learnings and insight to design a course that would teach mums everything they needed to know about social media management. Additionally, we both recognised that maternal unemployment and a lack of digital skills are a huge issue; discrimination forces 54,000 new mothers and pregnant women out of their jobs every year, while 12.6 million adults currently lack basic digital skills. Social media management offers mums a third way – family life and a career – it’s just a matter of teaching them the skills.
So we stopped working for clients and started training up mums in social media instead. Digital Mums was born in 2014 and our first course officially started in January 2015.
Why is flexible working so important?
We’re not mums ourselves, which often surprises people given the focus of our business, but we both lost our fathers at a young age and saw our mums struggle to balance work and family life. We’re therefore deeply passionate about helping women find work that works around their families and are equally passionate about helping businesses to see the benefits that this way of working can bring. Through our own experience as a 100% flexible working company and through our work with hundreds of small businesses, we know that flexible working offers a fantastic solution for everyone involved.
And it’s not just us who think it. According to our recent #WorkThatWorks report which we launched with the Centre for Economics and Business Research, 68% of stay-at-home mums said they would go back to work if flexible working around childcare was an option, while 37% of working mums would work additional hours.