Rachel Grantham turned a moment of "mum guilt" into a multi-million dollar business.

Rachel Grantham had returned to her bank job after months of maternity leave and was experiencing a feeling many mothers know all too well: Mum guilt.

In 2012, the Bondi mum was working full days and picking up her one-year-old daughter Ava from daycare at 5.30pm, before scrambling to prepare a meal, feed Ava and have her in bed by seven.

“I felt this huge stress I hadn’t felt before,” Rachel recalls.

“Ava was tired and hungry. She’d be crying all the way home in the car and then hanging off my leg as I cooked her dinner.

“I thought, ‘Isn’t this meant to be the fun bit?’ You miss you children so much all day and you feel so much guilt being away from them… all of the sudden you just have this stressful experience at the end of the day and it’s not what you hoped for.”

Rachel and her children Ava and Jack. (Image supplied.)

To give her more time in the evening to spend with Ava, Rachel started prepping meals on the weekend to freeze and reheat throughout the week - only to find she missed out on play time with her daughter on the weekend instead.

Rachel turned to her supermarket for help, but found no ready-to-eat kids meals were available and confirmed her friends were also experiencing the same struggle.

"I quickly realised I wasn't alone, I wasn't doing a bad job... we were all in the same basket," she says.

The fruitless search sparked an idea. Just a few months later, with a lot of passion, careful planning and hard work, Rachel's own ready-made kids' meal range, Little Bud, was born.


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"When I couldn't find anything in the supermarket, it was a light bulb moment for me."

Fast forward three years, and Little Bud has grown in a multi-million dollar food business, with the range now stocked in selected Woolworth supermarkets and set to be in Coles stores nationally from May.

"It's pretty exciting."

A long, long process.

Rachel admits her path to success began with failure.

After making the "leap of faith" to leave her job and put all her effort into creating a preservative-free meal range for kids, the then-36-year-old was ready to test the range at her first Saturday market.

"We spent all night cooking the meals for our first market - we didn't realise how long it would take to get them into the pots and label them."

Rachel wants mums to have time with their kids. (Image supplied.)

With all meals successfully prepared, Rachel was ready to go... until a thunderstorm forced organisers to cancel the market, leaving her with hundreds of meals she couldn't sell.

However, her next markets were far more successful. Just a few months later she was able to get her meal range into a local independent supermarket - and later, several more.

As her business grew and she employed more people - mostly mums - Rachel was driven by positive feedback and her passion for the product.

Little Bud fish pie features hidden veggies. (Image supplied.)

The 40-year-old credited the success of the meals with their ability to deliver kids hidden veggies - a tactic she picked up while preparing her "fussy" daughter's meals.

"My little girl was the fussiest eater - she wouldn't eat veggies, she wouldn't eat fruit," she says.

"I had to learn the tricks with her to make sure she's eating veggies."

Be passionate, but plan carefully.

Rachel applied a "test and learn" approach to running her business, explaining, "Everything we've done has been a test and learn approach - we've always tested and learned before we invested."

The mum-of-two says she exhausted all her savings over the first year of the business, but initially invested just $4000 before seeing if her meals would sell.

Rachel's daughter children are her best testers. (Image supplied.)

Thrifty decisions, like sharing a kitchen with a restaurant and cooking the food one day a week when it was otherwise unused, also helped Rachel keep initial costs down.

For any mums wanting to start a business, Rachel has some advice to dispense.

"I would say do your research. Rather than going in blindly, build a plan and build a financial plan," she explains.

While being passionate and believing in yourself is important to a business' success, Rachel believes having a plan is equally important.

One of Little Bud's heat-and-eat kids meals. (Image supplied.)

"Have a clear plan on how you're going to achieve your vision."

She also advises taking risks while the business was small.

"While you're small make the mistakes - and you will make mistakes - so you don't make them on a mass scale."

From corporate high-flyer with mum guilt to launching her successful business nationally, Rachel's bright idea and "leap of faith" have certainly paid off.