JUST because you’re serious about being in business doesn’t mean you have to take yourself too seriously.

Mandy Naylor is committed to her childcare business, Little Tinkers Private Day Nursery, but maintains a healthy sense of humour.

Her business card shows she’s a lady with letters after her name – GDB, CC&BW (Hons) to be precise.

“It stands for General Dogsbody and Chief Cook and Bottle Washer,” she says.

“I got fed up being handed business cards by people with a long string of academic qualifications after their names, so I decided to award myself a few! But nobody has ever asked me what they stand for!”

Mandy arrived at self-employment after a varied career which included retailing, debt collecting and property development.

Having established two successful nurseries – in Brighouse and Hipperholme – she is looking for yet more challenges.

“I said about 12 to 18 months ago that when the nurseries were established I was going to chill out for a while and take things a bit easier,” she says.

“Instead, I’m in the process of setting up a new business, The Taste Coffee Bar Ltd, and I’m looking or some suitable local premises.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, run a nice coffee shop. And the time is right. Coffee culture is still booming.”

Mandy was born in Pontefract, but attended Brighouse Grammar School from the age of 12 when her family moved to the area. She completed her O-levels, but the family moved again before she could sit A-levels.

“I was very undecided about what I wanted to do,” she recalls. “I went to York College to do computer programming. They still had those big magnetic tapes, so you can guess how long ago that was!

“I had a placement with a firm in Leeds which processed payroll for a number of big companies, but I decided it was very boring. I could not envisage doing that for the rest of my working life.”

The early 1980s found Mandy working for an estate agency before she took a Christmas job with shoe retailer Clarks’ Peter Lord chain.

She became a branch manager at the age of just 20 and moved south to take charge of stores in Wimbledon, St Neots, Brent Cross and Cambridge.

At the end the decade, her father had retired from his job as a publican and the two of them considered setting up a Clarks franchise.

Instead, she ended up working for her father in the building industry – selling double glazing, conservatories and extensions.

The attraction of self-employment was becoming stronger.

“I set up my own business selling clothes to nursing homes and residential homes,” says Mandy.

“At the same time, I also worked part-time as a debt collector.

“When I had my daughter Bethany, I found I couldn’t do everything, so I worked for HBOS, stopped my evening job and worked two days a week on the clothes business.”

Another chance event brought Mandy into property development,

She and her father saw a run-down cottage which they planned to restore and sell. Instead, they renovated the property for Mandy to live in – and she rented out her four-bed property to raise some funds.

She so impressed her bank that loaned her the money for the renovation that she was able to go on to buy, renovate and sell a number of cheap terraced properties.

“I was still working for HBOS as well as myself,” she says. “I had to re-evaluate what I was doing and decided to leave HBOS, finish my clothes business and concentrate on property development.”

By 2005, Mandy had a little boy, Alfie – and she was left in the lurch when the nursery he was attending closed down.

“I needed to find a new nursery for Alfie – and I found one in Brighouse which was up for sale,” she says.

Mandy took the plunge and decided to buy the nursery!

“I took the view that I needed a place for my son, that this was a nice site and that if it didn’t work out – with my property hat on – I could sell it.

“Within six months, I was hooked and within 12 months I had got another nursery, in Hipperholme.”

The two nurseries are now well-established. Together, they are registered for 119 children and have 26 staff.

As well as day care, they provide out-of-school clubs. Mandy has also set up additional services to set them apart from the competition, including a takeaway service so parents collecting their children at the end of the day can also take home a family meal.

Mandy is also looking to introduce a pick-up and drop-off service for busy parents who cannot ferry their offspring to and from the nurseries.

And the nurseries’ website is being updated to include a host of useful tips for parents and parents-to-be.

Mandy admits: “I have been on a very steep learning curve – from being self-employed to becoming an employer.

“Within the childcare industry there is more paperwork, regulation and legislation to deal with and it is all very complex.

“I also sit on the Calderdale Early Years Reference Group, which includes representatives of the private sector, the voluntary sector, the maintained sector and Calderdale Council, where all issues affecting early years provision are discussed.

Mandy sees interesting times ahead for the nursery sector as parents tighten their belts and turn to grandparents and neighbours to share child-minding chores and rely less on paid day care.

But it hasn’t deterred Mandy from starting the search for premises to provide a third nursery.

She seems as far away as ever from being able to “chill out” in her coffee shop.

But she says: “You have to do what you enjoy – and I enjoy what I do. I like the challenge of setting up new businesses.

“I have two children and we do make time to be together.

“I am in a position where I can get away from the office early some days of the week. On those occasions I work from home.

“For me, it’s about quality of life rather than achieving a certain standard of living.

“People look at the material things, what you have got – but it is nothing to do with that. I work because I enjoy it.”