Being an entrepreneur is hard work, as anyone who runs a business knows.
There are so many stresses. So much responsibility, and no matter what people advise, I have always found it very hard to switch off or take time off.
Throwing in COVID -9 has taken the stress of running a business to a whole new level.
The implications on running a business during the pandemic are immense – livelihoods lost, a huge increase in mental health issues, and businesses fighting to stay afloat.
I am often asked how I navigated this difficult time while growing the business, innovating, and looking after our customers. Here are some insights into what The Healthy Mummy did to ensure we came through the other side.
The Healthy Mummy has always been an online business, so we didn’t have the devastating losses others felt from the decline in foot traffic and constant lockdowns.
At all stages of the business, I have approached everything from a customer point of view. I have placed the customer first, and although we don’t always get it right, the objective has been to improve the customer experience and what we offer them.
When COVID first hit, this is exactly what we did. We knew that mums and families would be one of the hardest groups to be affected. Having a family is expensive at the best of times, so with jobs lost and incomes restricted, we knew mums would struggle.
But we also knew that the need to look after the family’s health was at an all-time high. The Healthy Mummy has always been an extremely budget-conscious program, so we wanted to offer even greater value so customers could access our programs and products without spending huge amounts of money.
We also knew the mental health of mums and families were critical. Everyone was going through unprecedented stress, and everyone was either struggling or adapting.
Supporting our customers
The team sat down to work out how we could support mums through this period and offer greater and even more budget-friendly options in areas they needed. Although this meant incurring more business costs and outgoings, our customers’ need have always been our highest priority, and I felt a responsibility to invest in our community.
The plan was:
- Increase the free options and content available
- Increase the administrative support in our community groups so help was at hand
- Launch a daily LIVE and free video program featuring Healthy Mummy experts. Our psychologists gave mental health talksthree our fitness trainers conducted at-home workouts, and our nutritionists and chefs provided cooking demonstrations.
- Increase the number of daily competitions so more mums could win Healthy Mummy products and feel part of the community.
- Ask for mums to nominate themselves or someone they knew who needed our weekly care packages.
- Send weekly Healthy Mummy Meals Two You home delivery meals to families in need.
- Offer extreme budget rates for full access to our Healthy Mummy app – for example, $19.95 for 3 months which was a 90 per cent discount.
- Offer more discounts on key Healthy Mummy products so that they are even more affordable.
- Ask the community daily what it wanted and needed, then create services and products to meet them.
Yes, it was more work, but it felt good to positively impact during a challenging time and to receive positive feedback.
Product supply issues
We faced many challenges, which were difficult to navigate. Supply issues meant we were out of stock of key products for a long time, which was stressful for our team and increased our workload.
Our products are all Australian made, but each product has multiple ingredients, some of which can’t be sourced in Australia. So, if one ingredient was unavailable due to supply chain issues, we couldn’t make the product and ran out of stock.
Because raw material supply was scarce, manufacturers increased ingredient prices. Again, very stressful.
This was particularly tough to navigate. Thankfully, our direct relationship with the community allowed us to communicate regularly about delays, and customers were very understanding.
After the first six months of the pandemic, we decided to double and even triple our raw material orders so we would never find ourselves in this situation again. This has significantly reduced the stress on the team and the business.
WFH and staff flexibility
I am incredibly lucky to have an amazing team.
The team has always worked well online as a digital business, so moving to a remote set-up wasn’t difficult.
The Healthy Mummy staff is a very close-knit team with an incredible work ethic. Yes, it’s a job, and yes, we need to make the business profitable, but we love helping mums and families and giving back to our community.
The challenge with working from home was and still is the home-school element! Ninety-five per cent of our team are mums, so the juggle has been very real. But we combatted this with having very flexible work hours.
I know my team well and have complete faith and trust in them. They always get the job done so we have had flexible working hours over the past two years. Some people have chosen traditional hours, but many have been up at the crack of dawn, thenoffline for in the middle of the day, then back online later. This approach hasn’t hindered the business and has the stress at home.
The team stays connected with regular Zoom catchups, so everyone knows their priorities for the day or week ahead.
The downside of remote, flexible working is the lack of social connection. I ran a staff survey to discover personal preferences. The results were that 80 per cent of staff enjoyed working from home and almost everyone wanted to be in the office at least once a week to have a face-to-face social connection with their team members.
So, we implemented this when we had a break from lockdowns last year. We continued to work from home, but each team member worked at least one day in the office. Some staff choose to work in the office every day.
Innovation key to survival
Innovation has always been key for the business as our customers expect new products and ideas and regular improvements to our existing offerings. It would have been a mistake to stop investing in the business during the pandemic.
This has created additional stress, but we have worked better as a team to solve problems and improve customer service, and this has been rewarding for us all.
Innovation has seen business growth, increased customer satisfaction, and improved customer engagement. Our customers feel listened to and this is something that they value enormously. I am proud to run a business that places much weight on customers’ needs.
Some of our innovations were:
- We launched a new product and website just for men, The Healthy Man!
- We partnered with Priceline Pharmacy and launched our products in its stores nationally.
- We launched a new range of Premium Smoothies – now our number highest-selling smoothie.
- We launched an innovative new product called Control X, which helps reduce overeating.
- We launched the hugely popular Tummy Smoothie range and Tummy Snack Bars.
- We launched a Wellbeing section in the app focused on mental health and lifestyle content.
- We launched kids and mums workouts so kids could join in on the at-home exercise fun.
- We launched a range of new nutrition and health supplements to support immune systems.
- We partnered with Optus Sport offering Optus Fitness Healthy Mummy workouts for the whole family.
- We launched over 80 x new 10 minutes home workouts.
- We launched three new Healthy Mummy Magazines sold in Coles & Woolworths nationally.
- We launched over 500 new budget recipes in the app.
- We brought on Former Biggest Loser host Fiona Falkiner as one of our Healthy Mummy ambassadors.
- We launched our first TVC for The Healthy Mummy.
Read more: Mums supporting mums: flexible working hours