Single mother on how she juggles two teenagers with THREE companies

Single mother-of-two reveals how struggling to find childcare inspired her business worth £5MILLION – and why working mums SHOULDN’T feel guilty about getting help

  • Paola Diana, from London, is founder of household staff agency Nanny & Butler
  • She has set up two further businesses, including luxury concierge company
  • Entrepreneur explains how she’s learned to delegate and make time for herself 

A single mother-of-two has revealed how struggling to find childcare inspired her business worth £5million.  

Paola Diana, 42, founded bespoke household staff agency Nanny & Butler 12 years ago, when she found it difficult to find a suitable nanny for her two children while living in Italy. 

The entrepreneur, who now lives in west London, then went on to set up two further businesses, luxury concierge company Sigillus and recruitment agency Supreme PA.

Paola explained how working mothers shouldn’t feel guilty about getting help with their children, and says she believes it means they learn to behave around another person.  

Businesswoman Paola Diana has revealed how she’s managed to set up three companies, while bringing up two teenagers 

Speaking to FEMAIL, Paola explained how she decided to set up her own company after struggling to find a nanny for her son, now 16, and daughter, now 19, when they were younger.

‘I started Nanny & Butler as I was actually in need for a nanny for my own children,’ she said. 

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‘I always valued the fact I am bilingual, and I wanted to pass this gift to my children. I couldn’t find this [bilingual] nanny in Italy, so I found her in London.

‘I thought there was a need in the market, particularly thinking about my friends, my friends of my friends.’

The mother-of-two (pictured with her children) founded bespoke household staff agency Nanny & Butler 12 years ago 

Paola – who got divorced from her husband when her children were just two and four – described how she was able to start the company from home at first, allowing her to spend time with her kids.

‘Quite immediately I started getting many requests, so I had to hire consultants to help me,’ she said. 

‘It was a fascinating journey. Of course at the beginning it was more difficult, but I love challenges; I work hard.’  

The mother-of-two explained how hiring a nanny for her own children enabled her to grow the company to the successful business it is today.

Paola said: ‘Thank god I had the help at home. Without the nanny I couldn’t have done that. It was a lot of work, I used to work at home and also during the night.’

Paola (pictured at her book launch) explained how she has learned to delegate after building a team she trusts around her 

She added: ‘I think if you want to work, and I think you should work, you need help. If it’s a nanny, or an au pair, or a part-time nanny, it really helps. 

‘It’s good for your children as well because they learn to behave with another person; they’re not spoiled.’  

Paola believes children benefit enormously from seeing their mothers being ambitious outside the home

‘It’s not the quantity of time that you spend with your children that makes a difference, I think the real difference is the quality of time, and also who you are,’ she said. ‘It’s good for them see you achieve success,’ 

Following the success of Nanny & Butler, Paola – who previously split her time between Rome and London – went on to set up two further companies: Sigillus, which offers concierge services, and recruitment agency Supreme PA.

The businesswoman explained how she has learnt the importance of delegating over the past decade, as well as making sure she has enough time for herself.

The entrepreneur added that it is also important to make time for yourself, and do something you enjoy outside of work and looking after the kids 

‘The first thing to do is to learn to delegate, and find the right people to delegate to,’ Paola said.

‘So I surrounded myself with good consultants and have two really good managers – they really take care of the day-to-day tasks.’ 

She added: ‘I believe in the power of routine, in keeping balance and finding time for yourself. 

‘Because most of the time women tend to do everything for the children, for others – they love to take care of other people.’  

Paola described how her passion for supporting other women in business came about after facing sexism during her career in politics.

Paola’s tips for working mothers

Learn to delegate

Paola emphasised the importance of not trying to do everything yourself

Don’t feel guilty about getting help with childcare  

The businesswoman puts a lot of her success down to having a nanny when her children were growing up

Make time for yourself 

The entrepreneur said it is important to switch off, and do something you enjoy

Go for it 

Paola said women shouldn’t be afraid to be ambitious and take a leap in order to achieve their goals

‘After I had my two children, not even one company called me for an interview. I couldn’t even prove my value,’ she said. 

‘I still hear horrible stories about women who have children or women who may have children in the future facing discrimination.’  

Paola then decided to study for a Master’s degree at the Bologna Business School, which is when she got her first break, working for politician Romano Prodi – who later went on to become President of the European Commission.

After divorcing her husband at the age of 28, Paola says she has faced numerous questions about her love life.

‘Sometimes you hear other women telling you “Oh my god, how can a beautiful, intelligent girl like you be single?” 

‘They don’t understand there’s a huge prejudice behind that sentence. And I just smile, and say it’s the opposite around – because my standards are so high, that’s why I can’t find someone to fit my requirements.’

She added: ‘How can they not understand that being single is just like having brown eyes, or blonde hair? It’s just that, it doesn’t mean anything.’ 

Paola is now determined to help other women to improve their confidence and achieve their goals.

‘Women forget just how good they are, how powerful they are and can be,’ she said. 

‘I always say there are no limits. No limits to your imagination. Be bold, be free, be ambitious. Go and get it, if you want something – just do it.’  

Saving The World – Women: The Twenty-First Century’s Factor For Change by Paola Diana (Quartet Books, £12.50) is out now.    

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