CAROLINE HUGHES – CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF LIFETISE – A WEBSITE HELPING EVERYONE PLAN HOW TO AFFORD MAJOR LIFE DECISIONS FROM BUYING A HOUSE TO PLANNING FOR CHILDREN
Lifetise offers financial advice and support, who has supported you, and how, in creating your own business?
I’ve always been very self-sufficient. I’m only just learning how to ask for help since starting Lifetise and it’s been transformational. We’ve just completed a three-month FinTech accelerator programme with Accenture, and we now have great support from major banks and other financial partners. Also, many friends and colleagues are offering their help with everything from introductions to investors, press and social media. I’m training myself to be comfortable with asking people for things.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of creating Lifetise?
The feedback that we receive from members on how Lifetise has helped them. For example, when they tell us that they didn’t expect to be able to ever buy a home, then they used Homefinder and now they have a plan and feel so much more hopeful. Or when I hear of a parent negotiating flexible working hours with their employer after using Childminder, which has allowed them to be much more confident and able to present the numbers on how much they need to work to cover their childcare costs.
What have been some of the greatest obstacles you’ve faced starting your own company?
I have self-funded Lifetise for the past few years and that has been tough at times, as it has forced us to grow more slowly (which I’ve found challenging, being a type-A personality). I’ve definitely felt a huge pressure in being the breadwinner and having to cover the costs of the start-up as well as general living costs. I also think that entrepreneurship can be a breeding ground for self-doubt. It shows you those areas where you feel you are lacking. A very smart woman told me recently that the secret is just holding your nerve, and it’s so true.
Lifetise is shaking up the finance industry – where do you find inspiration?
I started Lifetise because I wanted to help more women develop financial independence. I call it feminist FinTech. It’s infuriating to me that we’ve never really given any thought to women’s financial lives, and they can be so different from men’s. I get really annoyed with the lazy tropes around women and money – we are not less confident, we just haven’t had the same access to resources like investing.
Do you have a career motto or mantra that you live by?
I’m trying “let it be easy”. My tendency is to strive and get in my own way through massive amounts of overthinking. I’ve found some relief at the intersection of bodhicitta (which I think of as universal compassion) and stoicism.
And finally what are your top tips for fellow entrepreneurs wanting to make a success of their businesses?
There’s a book I always recommend to women entrepreneurs: Playing Big by Tara Mohr. I have fallen into many of the traps that she identifies that stop you putting your work out into the world: designing at the whiteboard; thinking that I needed to do X before Y; being hooked on praise and fearful of criticism. I also love Kara Loewentheil’s podcast Unf*ck Your Brain. She talks about taking massive action – which is essentially training yourself to keep going and going until you see results.