Running a business is hard, but Tide makes it easier
Claire Pedley, a 41-year-old mother of two, has one company with three phone lines. People will ring and expect to speak to a man “because obviously I don’t know anything about concrete”, she says. Claire likes to connect such callers to one of her alternative numbers and to hear the surprise in their voice when they end up speaking to her again: “I answer every single one”.
Claire and her husband, Andy, have a clear division of labour. Formerly an Aldi store manager, Claire handles sales and logistics. A designer, Andy pours and sets the concrete creations. He rarely answers the phone and when he does he will pass it back to Claire nine times out of ten. Andy, instead, makes the furniture that the Poured Project is known for.
“I just go down to the workshops and say this is what needs doing”, says Claire.
Claire is not the kind of character to be discouraged.She left school at 17, working her way up to manage that Aldi store. Before she and Andy started the Poured Project, they had been foster parents to three children and parents to two biological children. The last foster child to leave the house left Claire raring for a new challenge. “I just slid into the role of the Poured Project”, she says, comparing the company to “another newborn baby”.
The Poured Project is more than just business to Claire. The company provides work experience for people at Camphill, a residential college for people with disabilities, and shares its materials with the college. “I learn from them, and they learn from us”, Claire says, “they make our lovely handmade wooden boxes”. The only full-time employees apart from Andy and Claire are single mums, employed during term time but not school holidays so they do not lose “their income to extortionate childcare fees”. Sometimes, clients have to wait. “We won’t push for hard, short deadlines”, says Claire. “It affects us and it affects the product at the end of the day. If something can be quickly and cheaply made it’s not with us.”
But business can be harsh, and even flexible and good employers have to take tough decisions.
Claire can recall a conversation with a former employee who happened to be Andy’s best friend. He had messed up three pours, using up £18,000 worth of materials in the process. The final straw came when Andy tripped over something that he had left out, sustaining a fracture to his skull. “You’ve got to be ready to say and do things that are difficult”, says Claire. Letting him go, even the best friend admitted that it was not working out. “‘I don’t have a laugh with you anymore because I’m so stressed’”, Claire told him, “and he could see that.”
Deciding to bank with Tide, however, was easy. The Poured Project was with a regional bank for the first two years of its life and, though the account is still active, it’s “not very well utilised, purely because it’s not a very good service”, says Claire. “I find Tide suits us better. It’s user-friendly, I can send an inquiry through the app and I’ve got an answer within the hour”. With the bank, Claire would be “lucky if I get an answer within two days”.
Claire decided to switch after her previous bank had made a payment in error. “Money had gone out of our account and we hadn’t approved it”, she says. £2,000 went missing, “enough to sink us – and the response I got was just like pulling teeth”.
That started the search that led to Tide. “We looked at other high street banks and a number of others, and then Tide came up.” Even before signing up, says Claire, she got quick, “forthcoming” answers to her questions. Claire has never regretted the switch.
Tide, jokes Claire, is “user-friendly and time saving. The complete opposite of The Poured Project!” Payment links are Claire’s “favourite” feature. Clients can pay her by simply clicking a link, no cards nor bank transfers necessary. This is useful for two reasons. First, the Poured Project takes remote payments only. The company has no card readers. Second, payments through the link are made by card, not by bank transfer, so clients can pay Claire in the knowledge that their bank will reimburse them if anything goes wrong (banks rarely do this for bank transfers, she says).
Looking to the future, The Poured Project has a patent pending for concrete radiators and is excited about their “massive” potential. “We could sell one to every home in the UK”, says Claire. She expects The Poured Project to move from its current option with no monthly fees, The Free Plan, to a Tide product with a few more bells and whistles. Andy might even get involved in the logistics of running the business, she thinks. “We’ll get him on board with it at some point”, she laughs.
Lack of childcare support a challenge for female business owners
By Heather Cobb, SVP Member Engagement at Tide
Women in the UK are making an impact in business, having started a record number of over
150,000 small businesses in 2022 1 . They consistently bring the innovation and creativity our
economy thrives on – despite facing numerous challenges along the way.
One such challenge we explored in our latest Women in Business survey 2 at Tide is caring
responsibilities. Almost 2,000 members of all genders responded, and nearly half of the
women (45%) have dependents, whether that be children (42%) or other relatives (2%).
It’s particularly concerning that female business owners were almost twice as likely than men
to cite not receiving any help with their caring responsibilities as a barrier to launching a
business, according to our survey data. That’s why it’s not surprising that more mothers told
us they found starting a business challenging, in comparison to their female counterparts
Stepping up the support
OECD data 3 shows that the UK currently falls behind 13 other European countries when it
comes to public spending on family benefits such as cash allowances, family services and
tax breaks. Eligible parents can currently claim up to 30 hours of free childcare for three and
four-year-olds, and 15 hours for some two-year-olds. This simply isn’t enough to allow many
parents, most often mothers, to go back to work following parental leave. And it shows: 6%
of our female respondents cited not receiving support with caring responsibilities as their top
roadblock, rising to 7% amongst those who found it moderately or very challenging to start a
In the Spring Budget 4 , the government announced it will extend these childcare provisions to
all children aged between nine months and five years, by September 2025. An independent
forecast 5 expects this to support around 60,000 parents of young children enter the
workforce. However, questions have been raised around whether the current lack of funding,
staff and existing childcare spaces will stop this from being delivered.
Supporting women-led businesses further enhances the benefits that small businesses bring
to the UK. Beyond financial contribution, they fuel innovation, bring different perspectives,
diversity of thought and lived experiences to our ever-growing business community
At Tide, we’re excited to see more mothers launch businesses in the run-up to the
government’s September 2025 deadline. We’re proud to have over 110,000 female
entrepreneurs using our platform, and we’re working hard to support them with securing
finance, improving their operational knowledge and more, so they can grow fruitful
1 The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship – 2023’s progress report
2 The Tide member survey was conducted between 3 and 7 February 2023, with 1,961 total
3 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Family Database PF1.1: Public
spending on family benefits
4 Budget 2023: Everything you need to know about childcare support
5 Office for Budget Responsibility – Economic and fiscal outlook, March 2023