Annabel Karmel: ‘Having children doesn’t mean a full-stop at the end of your cv.’

As childcare costs continue to rise, building a business with a family in tow has never been more attractive.

Having children doesn’t mean a full stop at the end of your CV, and I’m regularly quizzed by mums as to how I set up and built my business. There are so many mums out there who hope to reach for their career dreams and become their own boss, but it’s taking that first step that is often the hardest.

Annabel Karmel Portrait

I took this step 25 years ago; in fact my entire business grew out of the tragic loss of my first child, Natasha, who sadly died at 13 weeks from a viral infection. It wasn’t a diet related illness but I was understandably cautious when it came to ensuring that my second child, Nicholas, was provided with foods that optimised his health. Feeling vulnerable when he became fussy I struggled to find enticing recipes to encourage him and so set about devising my own. From sharing recipes at my local play group, I went on to sell 4 million copies of my Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner, and have written 39 books since!

Annabel-Karmel-Complete-Baby-Toddler-Meal-PlannerTaking the leap was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made but one I certainly don’t regret. Yes, setting off into the unchartered territory of self-employment can be daunting, but if you never take that leap you will never know how far your business idea could have got. Shattering the glass ceiling with a changing bag over your shoulder is no longer limited to realms of fantasy, and making it as your own boss has become a viable option for record numbers of women.

If you’re looking to turn your start-up dreams into a reality then I’ve shared some of my advice below. It’s not an easy job starting out but if you take the right steps and have a plan in place then anything is truly possible.



  1. Find your niche.

    You don’t have to come up with a unique invention – you just need to do something better than anyone else. Some of the best business ideas stem from dissatisfaction with what’s already out there.

  2. Research and plan.

    Take time to plan and test your business idea. Friends and family may tell you what you want to hear or try to dissuade you because of their own fears. Look to someone who will give you honest, informed feedback.

  3. Eye up the competition.

    Always analyse the competition to see how you can gain that edge in a competitive marketplace. Knowledge is power.

  4. Be a networker.

    Put yourself into unfamiliar and don’t be shy about broadcasting your idea, you never know how close you are to the person or people who may be willing and able to help you.

  5. Confidence is just as important as competence.

    The more you believe in yourself and in your chances of succeeding, the more likely you are to do just that.

  6. The opposite of success isn’t failure, it is not trying.

    If you seldom fail there is a good chance you’re playing it too safe, and there’s lessons to be gained from not succeeding first time round.

  7. Don’t quit too soon – perseverance is a key attribute in many successful people.

    Sir James Dyson went through 5,126 failed prototypes over 15 years, but the 5,127th worked!

I’m regularly quizzed by mums as to how I set up and built my business, so I decided to reveal the secrets to my own success in my book Mumpreneur. I also interviewed some of the top business leaders and working mothers such as Chrissie Rucker MBE, founder of The White Company and Nails Inc founder Thea Green to include their insider tips and learnings too.

Mumpreneur (published by Vermillion and sponsored by Direct Line for Business) is out now. Check out Annabel’s Mumpreneur resource hub at, or connect on Twitter and Facebook.


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