Name: Caroline Brealey
Job title: Matchmaker
Time in current role: 5 years
Caroline is a Matchmaker and the founder of Mutual Attraction & Matchmaker Academy. Visit her website here.
Why did you decide to start your business?
I’m quite risk averse so I must have been having a brave moment when I decided to set up Mutual Attraction, an offline matchmaking service for Londoners. At the time I was working in the voluntary sector which I enjoyed but it didn’t get me out of bed enthused! I had quite an idealistic view of what running a business would be like but I did know one thing – I would LOVE to work from home.
At the time I was single and actively dating. There were already quite a few matchmakers in London but very few that appealed to the younger generations and I wondered if there might be an opportunity there. After sitting on the idea for a while, I was prompted to make the jump when my work contract came to an end. I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing but I’m so grateful now that I took the leap!
Since then I have grown a small, successful business doing what I love and I’ve even had a second business come out of it – the Matchmaker Academy, a training school for new matchmakers. I would have loved to have done some training in matchmaking when I started and after being approached so many times from people wanting to become matchmakers I set up the academy. It is such a fun and inspiring project.
What are the key functions of your role?
I’m a jack of all trades within my business. When you start out as a solopreneur you do a lot of the jobs yourself. Now I have a small team who I manage but even still I’m involved in all the day-to-day runnings of the business, however I’ve stepped back from working 1:1 with as many clients as I used too. It’s important that I’m able to look at the business objectively.
A lot of my role is centered around how to drive the business forward and how to improve our services for our clients. There is always room for improvements to be made. I’m a big fan of collaboration so I take on the role of spokesperson for the company and I spend a lot of time networking and making connections within the dating industry (and outside of it too!).
Talk us through your typical working day
I have some routine to my day but being a matchmaker means no two days are the same, that’s one of the things I enjoy the most about the role ☺.
6:30am – I’m woken up by my sausage dog Lady and unfortunately she won’t let me snooze for long.
7am – I walk Lady for 30 minutes rain or shine. It’s a great way to start the day as it gets me up, dressed and out. Working from home this is really important as it gives a routine to the day.
7:30am – tea and lots of it! I prepare for the day ahead, check my diary, my emails, catch up on social media and complete any small jobs.
9am – Skype chat with the team. We all work from home so technology is a great way to keep us all connected.
9:30am to 12pm – It’s time for my toughest jobs of the day, I always like to get them out the way first. Being the director of a small company means you do a bit of everything. On a typical day I might be writing a dating article for a magazine, calling clients for feedback on their date, doing the accounts and brainstorming creative ways to bring in new clients.
12pm to 1pm – grab some lunch and play with Lady before sitting out in the garden to catch some rays if it’s sunny.
1pm to 3pm time to do some work for Matchmaker Academy. I write and schedule newsletters in bulk so sit down to get at least two done.
3pm – I take Lady for a quick walk as I have an important call at 4pm and so need her to be relaxed.
4pm to 6pm – I host a 1:1 Matchmaker Academy training session via Skype for a client living in the US. I love doing this but it’s also very intensive.
6pm to 6:30pm – I write up the notes from the session right away and send them to the client. A last check of my emails before my computer is closed down and it’s time to switch off.
Your favourite part of the job?
When ex clients get in touch to say ‘Hey remember me? You matched me three years ago and we’re now getting married!’. Or even when a client feeds back that they had a great date and have another in the diary. For a matchmaker this is the best feeling.
…and the part you could do without?
Having to tell a client ‘Sorry, your date has said he had a great time but he doesn’t think it’s worth pursuing so unfortunately there will be no second date’.
How would your staff and clients describe you in three words?
Supportive, dependable and flexible – hopefully 😛
Plans for the future?
Right now Mutual Attraction is in a great place. I’m keen to keep growing at the pace we are and enjoy the ride.
We’ll soon be launching an online course version of our matchmaker training so it’s all steam ahead with that as we launch it in Autumn 2016. I still have a lot to do so better pull my socks up!
Do you have any advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs?
- Be prepared to work hard – the freedom and flexibility is fantastic but you will work hard for it, especially to build your name.
- Make friends in the industry – it can be pretty lonely if you’re working on your own. Having friends and colleagues who know and understand what you’re going through is an incredible support. We have matchmaker get-togethers regularly.
- Sign up to some Facebook entrepreneur communities – even if you don’t do any of their courses or programs, the Facebook communities are worth their weight in gold for advice, support and knowledge. LLY