We found Linda Bradfield of Nifty Mums Network on Facebook and instantly liked the positive and practical advice of her posts. So when it came to looking for our next small business lady to interview Linda was top of our list.
What we're delighted to find is how truly inspiring Linda is with her battle again post natal depression, her devotion to her family, support for her Army husband and passionate dedication to creating a supportive online community for mums needing mutual support.
Do you see Nifty Mums Network as a business?
It was only when I started meeting other mums that had post natal depression (PND - I have been suffering this illness since my daughter was born in 2007) that I realised that many mums where sitting at home, isolated and needing support.
So I thought I would see if the Nifty Mums Network idea would catch on - nine months on I now have almost 4,600 mums in Australia and overseas, and with a request to start Nifty Mums Network in the UK!
The idea of Nifty Mums Network being a business, i.e. a not for profit organisation, was conceived when I realised how much of my time it actually takes up. I have been pretty much solely running Nifty Mums Network by myself, apart from the help of a few dedicated friends now and then, so I read all the posts, reply to all the emails from members and businesses that have questions or want to work with Nifty Mums Network. So my aim is to eventually take a base wage with the remainder of funds from advertising and so forth put back into support initiatives for mums.
Tell us a little about yourself, what’s the day to day life like for a small business owner of Nifty Mums Network and who makes up the team?
The Nifty Mums Network team pretty much consists of just me - although I do have a small group of mums that "baby-sit" the Nifty Mums Network page when I decided to have a break occasionally. I also have some lovely virtual admins that do some work for me at times.
I have recently started to limit the time I am actually on Facebook as I could be on there all day with reposting questions and answering questions - so now I generally check Facebook in the morning and repost any member questions, post a Nifty Tip or other post of interest and then spend the rest of the day either child wrangling, responding to emails, meeting with business owners or visiting PND mums to check how they are going. I also work casually one day a week doing my "real" job as a sonographer (ultrasound)!
What inspires you, that encourages you to reach out and make things happen?
What inspires me to run Nifty Mums Network is the joy that I get from helping other mums and making them feel supported. When I had my oldest child I was in a city with no family and my husband was deployed overseas for six months when she was eight months old - if it hadn't have been for other mums that almost "adopted" me into their families, cooking for me, looking after my daughter and allowing me some "me" time I would have probably ended up in a psychiatric ward with my PND.
I want Nifty Mums Network to be like that for other mums - welcoming, supportive and knowledgeable so they are not alone when things are tough.
What do you enjoy most about the running Nifty Mums Network?
I really enjoy meeting the mums and the businesses that have supported Nifty Mums Network - I have made so many amazing friends through this that I would otherwise not have met.
What’s been the hardest part or experience you’re had since starting the business?
Having no experience in business it has been quite a learning curve - time management has been a big issue as well as prioritising tasks. I now have many businesses approaching me to work with Nifty Mums Network - it is quite hard to keep up!
What’s been the best thing for the business that you just stumbled upon?
Strangely enough - my battle with PND - as it has allowed me to connect with many people. So many mums identify with where I have been and have appreciated my honesty about it. So the worst thing that has ever happened to me has turned out to been one of the best things also!
What do you think has been the most successful promotional activities you’ve explored to getting the word out about Nifty Mums Network?
I haven't really promoted Nifty Mums Network per se - it has basically been driven by word of mouth.
The major "recruitment" drive to the Nifty Mums Network page was just after I started it - I ran a "Recruit a Mum" campaign - so the mum that recruited the most mums to Nifty Mums Network won a prize - in the space of a month Nifty Mums Network has grown by over 1400 members!!
I have done a few local radio and newspaper interviews mostly trying to raise awareness of PND. I also organised a WAHM pregnancy hamper for Gorgi from Channel 10's The Circle last year and after that aired I had over 300 mums join (I am in the process of doing the same for Chrissie!).
You have a flourishing number of followers on Facebook – what do you think has been the best way of getting your name out there on Facebook?
Word of mouth is the best way - in the early days of Nifty Mums Network I would sit down every night and go to the pages that "liked" Nifty Mums Network, look at their products and make a personal comment thanking them for stopping by the page. I found this was really well received, unfortunately I don't have the time to do this anymore as there are so many now and so many other things that I have on my ever growing to do list!
What do you think been a really important regular activity with your social media that’s helped you grow?
As mentioned above, going to your likers pages and being "personal" and taking the time to see what their business entails. In the "ideal" world I would devote at least one hour everyday to visiting your likers pages as well as liking other businesses that are complementary to yours to build your network.
What are the hopes and plans for Nifty Mums Network this year?
The big plan is the Nifty Mums Network website! The plans are done, it is just up to me to find the time to send out the sponsorship proposals to try and secure funding for the build.
What would be your top 5 tips you’d give to someone starting out?