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Having a system: How to juggle a growing family and thriving business

Tuesday, 3 September 2013 | By Gavin Lower

Caroline Tate is about six weeks away from giving birth to her second child.


Her first child, Sophia, is almost two.


So how does the busy Melbourne mother with a thriving online business she started just over a year ago keep on top of everything?


“Systems,” is her answer.


“You don’t realise how much time you waste and also the stress of not having systems in place,” she tells SmartSolo.


Tate’s BizzyBox prepares and then posts boxes of craft and educational activities for children.


“I’ve found that all business is about putting systems in place to make sure that activities are done when they should be,” she says.


“Obviously, being a mother to a toddler I need to make sure that I use my time wisely.”


Tate, 35, started the business in June last year as a way to spend more time with Sophia and after losing her passion for her old job as an executive assistant.


“To be honest, I don’t want to go back to work.”


She says she was inspired to start her own business by her father, who ran a successful educational mail order business, Haines Educational, which supplied schools and universities with science and maths equipment. Tate helped him with his graphic design.


She hopes running her own business will also inspire her children.


Tate advises other sole traders to research as much as possible when going into their own business and to surround themselves with trusted people.


“I can’t physically do everything and you don’t need to,” she says.


“I appoint people with strong business acumen and specialists in their own territory to help drive the business so I can concentrate on the creative component of what is required.”


Tate has a business coach, who she says has helped her to prioritise tasks and gives her a sounding board for ideas. She also regularly talks to other mothers and to early learning educators about what goes into her boxes.


BizzyBox took off despite little advertising, with Tate attributing its success to product quality and word-of-mouth.


“I don’t think businesses can survive this day and age with less than 100% offerings,” she says.


She also advises other sole traders to have a strategy, projection and allocation of budget.


“You need to know where your money is going otherwise you could end up getting in trouble. My budget was super lean. I didn’t start out with much.”