Ok, I’ll admit it. I thought that after having children, I would be able to seamlessly ease myself back into my career and continue on my corporate journey. I think you can guess how this thought played out post-motherhood?! The fact is, once you become a Mum your perspective changes, and your priorities shift. Although you still want to feel challenged in your career, you also want to spend as much time as possible with your children, so all of a sudden you’re thinking a lot more about balance. And unless you’re one of the lucky few that has a VERY understanding and flexible workplace, you might be thinking about what other options you do have! This is why mums, are diving into the world of small business at a very fast rate.
A statistic which I find shocking but not at all surprising after talking with other women, is that ¼ of women are made redundant while on maternity leave (myself included!). Now, being the resourceful creatures that we are, it’s also not surprising to know that ⅓ of entrepreneurs are women, with a huge 70% of mums in Australia considering becoming a business owner.
The fact is these days, many women want to work. Even if it is only to keep up with the affordability of having children in the first place! And for a whole lot of women, we thrive on the feeling of being more than [insert child’s name here]’s Mum for even just a few hours. The problem we continually face as mothers is the lack of flexibility offered in the traditional office setting. As a parent you’d be all too familiar with that dreaded moment as you lock eyes with your partner, both of you sizing up each other’s work day, daring the other to suggest it’s your turn to take the day off as you desperately administer another dose of panadol/nurofen to your ailing child hoping that childcare will accept them for the day?! Or that moment when you realise, the painkillers are going to cut it and in fact, it’s “your turn”… the guilt sets in as you run through the list of everyone in the office you’ll be letting down by not coming in.
Now, while I will absolutely agree running your own business does allow you flexibility, it certainly does not mean you’ll work less hours. You may (depending on your business model!) be able to take the day off to care for said sick child however, you’ll also miss The Bachelor finale while you catch up on whatever you put to the side that day. In fact, you’re likely to work more hours than you did in your corporate life and it will most definitely not be easy.
BUT, if you are a mum in business and you are committed to making it work, it is do-able and here are my top tips for making your small business work for you:
- Create strong boundaries – always keep in the back of your mind that you started this thing to allow some flexibility and balance in your life. If you’re not really structured with your hours and availability, you can kiss those things goodbye. Be strict with this to ensure your business doesn’t cut into your family time.
- Get support – it’s impossible to care for children, run a household AND a business, so don’t do it! Ask your partner or some helpful relatives to give you a hand around the house. And, at a minimum, hire a cleaner.
- Remember, this is your job – don’t get too caught up in the fact that you may not be generating an income (yet). Just like any other job, you need to show up every day, no matter how you’re feeling. It’s going to take a lot of hours to get this baby up and running so, be prepared to put in the hard yards.
- Call in the experts – fact: there are going to be elements to your business which you feel less confident about. Whatever you do, don’t try and re-invent the wheel. There is plenty of online support, whether it’s an available course or a really good business coach (I happen to know a great one!), all you have to do is reach out for advice.
- Be strict with your time – it’s one thing to procrastinate as a uni student when time seems to be endless, it’s an entirely different game when you’ve got kids about to wake up from their sleep and a looming deadline. As I said before, this is your job now and you need to be sure that friends, family and even kids understand that when you’re working, you can’t be interrupted.
- Plan, plan, plan – look, I understand you’re getting sick of hearing it but c’mon guys, you gotta have a plan! Having a business plan will keep you on track and help you stay focused to achieve those goals. If you don’t know where to start with this, I’ve got you covered! Check out my free Business Plan download.
The thing is, I think Beyoncé was only half right when she discussed: Who run the world?? Yes, I would agree girls are involved but to get really specific, it’s MUMS! No one knows the juggle, or has the strength to just keep persevering like a mum. And that, my friends, is why more women than men are now are becoming entrepreneurs and it’s also why they’re kicking some serious business goals!