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Business Success Story: Human Stories - Mixing business with motherhood

Renee Murphy is a content writer based in Palmerston North. She writes for clients in Manawatū and across New Zealand and shares her business start-up journey below.

If you’d told me a few years ago I would end up starting my own business, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. But today I run my own communications business, Human Stories and enjoy the flexibility to continue doing what I love while raising my family.

My journey started in 2011 when I left my role as a Health Promotion Advisor to be a full time Mum. To keep socially connected and mentally challenged, I joined Palmerston North Parents Centre and became a columnist for the magazine Palmy Parent. It was here where I uncovered my talent and passion for writing, igniting a spark which led to my future business endeavours.

As I gained more experience and studied journalism papers, I began to pitch stories to a range of publications. My work was published online and in Good,  NZ Petrolhead, and OHBaby! When I realised that I could earn money through writing, it was both a revelation and motivation to start my own business.

Fast forward a few years, our youngest child was off to school, I had more time on my hands and I was ready to focus on my career. The prospect of my husband and I juggling annual leave and childcare to cover school holidays and sick days was a barrier to becoming an employee again. Working as a freelance writer and being my own boss seemed like a good solution, as I could work around the kids’ schedules.

I officially started the business in January 2020, so I had a few clients on board when we went into lockdown. Naturally I was worried about whether Human Stories was going to survive the pressures that came with the pandemic. The work slowed down, but thankfully it didn’t dry up completely. I managed to build up again once lockdown was over.

Like many entrepreneurs starting out, I knew the bare minimum about running a business, but I was prepared to learn, upskilling myself in everything from copywriting to marketing and finances.

In the beginning I wasn’t sure who needed my services or who I wanted to work with. I gained clarity by doing my own market research and today I write web and print content for busy marketing and communications professionals who need to outsource.

I do most of my work within school hours so I am available for the school runs, and work reduced hours in the holidays. The flexibility of working for myself is great and works well while raising a family.

My home office is my base, but I like to get out and about to meet clients and interviewees at cafes, or other organisations as it’s important for my sanity and helps to build connections within the community.

The team at CEDA have provided me with amazing support on my business development journey and I am extremely grateful to all the people who have taken the time to share their knowledge and offer advice to help Human Stories get to where it is today. My first touchpoint was CEDA’s Starting a Business Workshop where Business Growth Advisors covered business planning, as well as the support and resources available to new businesses.

From there I joined the Regional Business Partners programme and was assigned a Business Growth Advisor who has been a great sounding board keeping me connected with helpful expertise and tools. Another highlight was learning how to make Human Stories more searchable online at CEDA’s Google My Business workshop. I also signed up for a mentor through New Zealand Business Mentors during lockdown and he provided invaluable support for my business through a challenging year.

If you’re thinking of starting a business, or you’re an entrepreneur working on a start-up, I recommend getting in touch with CEDA. They will link you up with support and resources that will help you achieve your business vision.

Find out more information about Human Stories here.

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This was published in the Success Stories newsletter on June 29, 2021. Sign up here to receive our newsletters directly

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