L Rollins design is an Architectural Consultancy practice based in the North East of England. We design, prepare drawings and make planning and building regulations applications for domestic house extensions or new build properties.
We also specialise in workshops for schools, museums and the community on creativity and design.
When did you start your business and why?:
I started in October 2008. From 2002 to 2008 I had 6 years out of the industry as I had taken a career break to have our children. Our daughter started school in September 2008 and I decided to give it a go working for myself and I have not looked back!
What gives your business the edge?:
As a fully qualified Architectural Consultant and working Mum I believe I can bring a combination of carefully planned, practical designs for homes based on a wealth of experience. Many of my clients comment that I see their property through different eyes and can create designs which are in keeping with the property whilst providing the accommodation required.
What is the best thing about running your own business?:
I love running my own business as I am in control of my own workload and meetings. I can make things work around the children, whilst still maintaining a work and life balance.
And what is the worst!?:
I find switching off from work difficult, as I take great pride in what I do and want everything to be right.
Describe a typical day running your business and balancing family life:
I begin work once the children are at school, usually with emails and phone calls to my clients or the Planning or Building Control departments of the local council I am working with. Then I will start design work and prepare scaled proposal drawings though until lunchtime. Each day, I usually have a site visit to check the contractors are progressing. I collect the children from school and have the usual tea/homework/activities rush and then very often I have an evening appointment with a client to go through the design for their extension or to meet a new client. As most of my clients work during the day I have to be very flexible with appointments meeting with people in their own home when they are available. I usually return around 8pm and get organised for the following day.
How do you envisage your business changing over the next 5 years?:
I hope my business will continue to grow and flourish over the next 5 years. Last year we converted the garage into an office for me which is great and means I have a dedicated space in which to work. I have a separate phone line and lots of space to store all of my drawings and equipment. At around that time I took on more work in the wider area, into Northumberland, Teesside and Durham and I would like to see that work expanding.
Do you have any advice for other Women in or starting a business?:
Go for it! Do as much research as you can and go on any of the courses available about starting a new business. I spent 10 months in 2008 preparing and learning as much as I could about being in business. I had my branding designed and then my website was made and stationary prepared. These things all take lots of time and when you start, you want to hit the road running. Once you start I recommend networking, I have been a member of a business group in South Tyneside (STBN) from which I have made new clients, but I have also gleaned lots of really useful advice from the speakers and members. I have recently joined the Inspire group after meeting Lisa Smith at STBN. The Inspire network is great as I have met lots of very like-minded people in similar situations to me.