Moms Doing It For Themselves: Susan Murphy
Facing mortality is never easy for most of us, and making a Will can appear to be a daunting task.
But, Wexford mum of two, Susan Murphy a solicitor by profession, saw a very important niche in the market – helping people with a quick and easy Will and probate service.
So she set up makemywill.ie. We caught up with her to find out how it all works.
Tell us a little bit about your business.
I set up my own business called makemywill.ie five months ago. I am a fully qualified solicitor with seven years’ experience; specialising in Wills and probate. So I suppose I’ve seen firsthand the difficulties that can arise when someone dies and doesn’t leave a Will. Nearly three quarters of Irish adults haven’t made Wills. I did some research before I set up the company and the main reasons seem to be (1) they don’t want to think about death (they’re avoiding the morbid aspect of it), (2) they think that it’s going to be very expensive, and, (3) they don’t want the hassle of having to attend at a solicitor’s office. They don’t want to take time off work or organise childcare. This is where I come in.
I take the individual’s instructions over the phone or by email at a time that suits them. I deal with any queries they might have in relation to: e.g. guardianship issues, inheritance tax, etc. and we will discuss all of that in the person’s own time. The Will is then drafted up and sent to the individual by post or email. Once it’s approved the official copy is sent out for execution. It’s a nationwide service I’m providing. There is a common misconception that a solicitor has to witness the Will. They don’t, the witness has to be independent to you, so a work colleague, neighbour or family friend is a perfect choice, and all they have to do is witness your signature; they don’t have to see the contents of the Will.
The current cost is €145.00 per couple or €98.00 per individual. So this is a very affordable service. And the advantages of having it done and having the peace of mind far outweighs the small injection of cash needed.
What was your motivation to start up your business?
The idea first came into my head when I was on maternity leave with my first child. I wanted to look at a way to balance my work and life. I was working full-time as a solicitor and managing the practice during the recession – so it was stressful! Then my second child came along, so I needed a job change that would work better for my family. I decided to set it up and now work from home. I work 9-5 most days, but I also work in the evenings as well as a lot of clients like me to call them when their kids have gone to bed. I get to spend my lunch hours with the children as they’re looked after during the week by a childminder in our home. So it works well for us.
What is your background?
I studied law in UCD and afterward went to work in AIB in Dublin, which is where I met my husband. I then went on to Blackhall Place and qualified as a solicitor in 2008. I relocated so that I could work in my father’s practice in Wexford Town: Huggard, Brennan & Murphy Solicitors, the oldest law firm in the town. I specialised in Wills and Probate and Conveyancing. But, probate law was always of great interest to me. I had seen what could go wrong if even the simplest mistake was made, or if a Will wasn’t made in the first place. I know it’s not the most glamorous of jobs, but I had a brilliant mentor in Blackhall Place who instilled a love of probate law within me.
What have been the highs and lows of setting up your own business?
The excitement of it! Everything is so fresh and new; starting out completely from scratch. I’m finding my feet and discovering new things every day. I have made a lot of great contacts through social media – Twitter and Facebook in particular, which I never expected. It’s bringing in a lot of business, referral wise. I love just managing myself and not having to manage staff, as I had previously managed a staff of eight to nine people.
The lows would be the financial risk. I had a very secure job and it was a big risk to go out on my own. I had to do a lot of research to make sure that it would work. I am five months into it and it’s looking very positive. I’ve already had articles in the Irish Independent and I’ve been on Ireland AM! So it has been received really well and there is a lot of interest.
What advice would you give other moms wanting to start up their own business?
Carry out your research, identify your target / niche market, go to your local County Enterprise office and get as much help as you can. Make sure that you’re on social media and know how to use it to your advantage. For instance, there’s a brilliant tool called: Irish Biz Party that’s on Twitter every Wednesday evening from 9pm to 11pm. There’s support there for small to medium sized businesses. I found the support and positivity invaluable. But essentially, you need to know what you’re selling and who you’re selling to – look after your customer.
Do you have any tips for balancing your work and family life?
I think you need to sit back and realise what you’re doing it all for. Before I left my old job my whole life revolved around work and stress. At the end of the day, you’re doing it for your family and keep that in mind before you get too bogged down in your business. I can now spend lunchtime and take breaks with my kids, and enjoy less stress with this new career move, which is fantastic.
What would you say is your next step?
I need to keep doing what I’m doing and get the name out there and promote it more. I want to get more articles published and get a higher Google ranking for the website – basically make makemywill.ie a household name! If, by the end of the year, I can get more clients referring friends to me because they were delighted with my service, I would be thrilled. So far the feedback has been brilliant, so I’m pretty confident I can get there.
If you were to be granted three wishes for your business what would they be?
- Get on the front page of Google.
- Promote my business on TV again!
- To have a good Christmas with my family! To become financially self-sufficient, while helping people to get their important affairs in order!
Would you like to be featured in our new business mom series? Or know someone who might?