INTRODUCING BIZZY MUM, HANNAH O'BRIEN
Your name: Hannah O'Brien
Business name: Hunt and Gather Bee Co.
How many/ how old are you kids: 3 kids; ages 2, 6 and 9
What stage of motherhood you became self-employed: just before our 6 year old was born
How long you have been in business: 6 years
What is your business why? We want to be leaders in producing and curating rare NZ honey varieties with a long term goal of opening up more opportunities in the industry and reinvesting profits in bee friendly reforestation projects.
Did you always want to work for yourself? Not specifically; I was a Primary School teacher before starting this business, but it has really just evolved from selling a bit of honey at the local market into a proper business, and we have just adapted as it has grown.
What does success look like to you? Happy kids, a happy team, happy bees, a good balance and a business that has an impact.
Do you have a top business tip? Or piece of advice? Find out your why, your purpose or the impact you want to have and keep bringing every decision back to that. Even though your why will evolve over time, there will be some really core elements that you need to stick to to stay true to your purpose.
What's your favourite and least favourite thing about working for yourself? My favourite thing is the excitement you get from being so invested in something, and the ability to learn so many different things across all aspects of the business. My least favourite thing is the financial stress, especially being a product based business.
What's 3 apps /programs /services you can't live without? (Biz and home) Shopify, Xero, Google Maps? haha! I also use Canva, Upstock, Linkedin, Monday.com and Instagram a lot. For home I couldn't live without our wonderful cleaner who comes to help out with the housework once a fortnight.
Have you got any embarrassing failures that you've learnt from? I was on a really important Zoom call during lockdown last year and someone on the call goes "do you realise there's a kid behind you? Also, he's got no pants on". That was pretty funny.
How do you manage switching between all the different hats of business and motherhood? I'm not going to pretend that it's smooth. I am pretty comfortable now with the fact that I am going to drop the ball often. I work when and where I can, and the growth of the business has really been around the growth of our young kids and needing to give them my time, and implementing growth in the business as/how/when I could. The kids always come first, because they are so young and they need me. Sometimes in the business I take a while to reply to peoples emails, or orders take a bit longer than I'd like, or processes don't go as smoothly as I'd like. And vice versa, sometimes there is 2 weeks worth of washing on the couch that needs folding and the place is a tip. But I think I'm just at peace with it now. I know that I'm trying my hardest and doing the best that I can, and as our business growth continues, I plan to bring more people into our team who can help me manage the workload and steamline my processes.
What's one thing you would tell your younger self as a new parent or fresh business owner? As a new parent - ask for more help. I wanted to feel like I knew what I was doing, but I wish I had been better at getting help with the everyday stuff you have to do as a parent.
As a new business owner - plan! Forecast and business plan; figure out where your break even is and how much you need to sell/how long it will take to reach it. Have some capital behind you or make sure your idea is scalable enough to attract investment. Find your niche in the market and plan for growth; look to the future, not just the now.
Is there anything your kids have taught you that has helped you in business? Probably patience! But also how to be a bit more assertive with people sometimes. Managing a tantrum prone toddler is sometimes like business transactions; you need to be firm and stand your ground and wait for them to come round!
What is your favourite thing/s you do to look after your mental health? I am trying hard to separate home life and work life. Things like not working in the evenings any more and going hard at work while our youngest is in daycare 3 days a week to get as much done as possible so that I can switch off once I pick him up. I love getting down to the beach for a walk, or equally letting myself take a break sometimes and just watching Netflix!
What does "Hannah time" look like? I am really passionate about fly fishing, so my favourite thing to do at the moment is get on the river and fish for a day, it totally clears my mind and gets me stoked to come back to home and work life.