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Are you one of those moms who run businesses? Are you struggling to strike a balance between your role as a mother and an entrepreneur? In that case, this article is perfect for you as it has some invaluable tips on how to excel in both these departments of your life.
I never thought I would say this but I sucked at managing my business after becoming a mother.
My whole life, I have been a disciplined studious person. Whenever I have set my mind to something, I have delivered results. That’s exactly why I even decided to quit my work and start my own professional practice. I was sure that I would be able to stay focussed, work hard and effectively serve my clients.
However, this whole self-disciplined lifestyle crumbled completely once I became a mother.
My initial struggle as a mom who runs a business
In the beginning, I was far too tired and the addition of the many mom-duties used to leave me completely overwhelmed. I just didn’t feel like I had the energy to work and be productive while I struggled to keep up with my life as a new mother.
During the times when I felt good, all I wanted to do was devote all my attention to my baby, watch her make progress every day. I just didn’t want to miss out on her many different growth phases.
All of these reasons were justifiable for the first couple of months. In fact, I could delegate my work, tell my clients that I am new-mom and could get away my tardy ways.
However, as the months progressed and I still continued to struggle to get the balancing act of being a mommy and running a business in order, my business started to suffer.
I did not know what is it that I need to do to get out of this rut and become that self-disciplined, productive working force that I used to be.
So I brainstormed for ideas, discussed ways to get back to business with my partner. But when I looked up the internet for getting my life sorted again, I only found articles about ‘getting back to work.’ There were hardly any articles about moms that run businesses.
That’s when I decided that once I get my life back in order, I would write an article for moms who run businesses.
Today, a couple of years later, I feel that I am in much greater control of my profession and my blogging business is also slowly and steadily flourishing.
Super useful tips for moms who run businesses
So what is it that worked for me?
Let me share all my secrets with you so that you too can conquer both the personal as well as the business areas of your life.
Have a separate work area
As a business owner, you are your own boss. This, in turn, will make you believe that you can take work with you wherever you go. You would be tempted to blend your personal and professional worlds in order to maximise your work productivity.
I had made this mistake in the beginning when I tried to work while nursing my baby. I tried working with a laptop in my bedroom while the baby slept or I used to reply to emails quickly using my phone will playing with my kid.
Unfortunately, none of these practices led to productive outcomes. I made mistakes in my work and my baby understood that I am not paying undivided attention to her.
The result? A complete failure on both fronts.
That is when I understood the importance of having a dedicated space that you call your work area and to work only and only from this space.
This space could be your office which is a short drive away from your home. Alternatively, you could even dedicate a desk inside your home where you will be able to completely cut off from your child for a while.
But the most important point to note here is –
If you need to work, you must only work from this dedicated workspace.
Physically delinking your personal and professional spaces will ensure that you stay focussed while working and make the most of the limited hours that you get to spend working.
The quality of your work will also drastically improve.
Initially, it will be difficult for you to fully separate the two parts of your life but the stricter you are with yourself, the better it will be for you in the long run.
Delegate or automate donkey work
In every article that I write on motherhood, I stress on this point. Whether it is my article on how to be a happy mom or the one how to stay sane as a new mom, I always advise mothers to delegate tasks.
In India, we are genuinely blessed to get the support of house-helps whenever we feel like delegating particular tasks. Make use of this blessing in whichever area of life you are most struggling with.
Alternatively, automate tasks that can be automated.
Do not hustle unnecessarily when somebody or something else can take care of it.
Household chores taking your business time? Delegate it to a house-help.
Sending standard responses to your business enquiries is eating up your work time? Set up auto-responders.
Designing flyers for your product launch is proving to be too much work for you? Outsource it.
(A great platform to connect with freelancers for all budgets is Fiverr.)
Now, I know that you must be worried about the added financial cost of delegating or automating. Here is my suggestion to you in this regard –
- If the cost is within your means, spend it even it means cutting back on expenses in other areas.
- Set a budget for these expenses and look around everywhere, check every platform to see if you can find a solution within your budget.
However, if you just can’t afford the expenses right now, do not borrow and add to your woes. In that case, just suck up to your situation and aim at achieving the financial position required to be able to afford to outsource.
As soon as you reach a point where you can afford it, spend that money to delegate or automate.
The first few months, or for that matter, even the first year of your motherhood journey is demanding. Your baby goes through a number of growth spurts and phases.
It is therefore essential to plan your day in such a way that you are able to devote additional time to your baby whenever required.
Therefore, the period right after the birth of your baby is not the ideal period for you to expand your business.
This is not the time to accept new customers, launch new products. Your focus during this period should be on delivering the best quality services to your existing customers.
Learn to politely refuse new work, new assignments, new orders or whatever it is that will make you feel overwhelmed.
It’s never easy to turn down business. In fact, I am not even recommending that you do it for too long. Just grow it at a slower, more manageable pace.
Eat the Frog, always!
The first few weeks after I started working on my business again after my maternity break were really painful for me. Why?
Well, simply because there wasn’t a day when I could finish all the items on my to-do list. I always felt guilty about not being productive enough.
No matter how focused I stayed, I just couldn’t strike off all the items on my to-do list. The hours I put in never seemed enough.
That’s when I decided to change my work-strategy. I adopted the principle of ‘eating the frog first.’
I used to make a list of things I needed to do during the day, mark the one that’s of utmost importance. This would be the task that I just couldn’t afford to delay and the one that would have the strongest positive impact on my business.
I used to work on that task first and then actively procrastinate on low-priority tasks.
This meant that although I couldn’t complete all the tasks I had set out to do, I would finish the most important one and my business didn’t suffer at all.
The less important tasks either become so irrelevant over a period of time that you don’t need to deal with them at all. Or, worst-case scenario, they become so important because of regularly delaying them that they become the ‘Frog’!
Work on all 7 days of the week (at least till your kids are young)
Okay, you must be thinking I have lost my mind. Given how overloaded we are as mothers, you must be thinking that it is absolutely foolish to not take the weekend off. Right?
Well, I hear ya!
But you know what, once you are a mother, there is no real ‘break-day.’ Whether you spend time with your kids, work on household tasks – you are always busy.
Plus, because of all these household responsibilities, the time that you get to spend on your business is already compromised. If in such circumstances, deciding to take the weekend off will only damage your business.
In fact, I work long hours on weekends as that is when my husband is available to look after the baby and our home.
So instead of working 8 hours per day on weekdays, I work 5 hours per day on weekdays and 8 hours per day on weekends.
Now again, once your kids become older and start going to school or daycare centres, you will be able to switch back to the old ways of slogging on weekdays and taking an off on weekends. But until then, you will have to work on all days to keep your business running smoothly.
Be clear with your family
The biggest challenge of running a business is that your family thinks that you can be flexible with your timings. Your family will most likely expect you to look after your child first and manage your business in your free time.
Since your family knows that you are the boss of your business, the associated assumption is that you can bend rules whenever required.
But, as you would be aware, that is far from the truth. As an entrepreneur, our commitment to our clients often holds us down. We can’t just take a leave whenever we like and we need to show up to work every single day.
If not physically, mentally we are always worried about generating the next sale, servicing a new client and upgrading our profiles.
Therefore, the only way to not let motherhood become an impediment preventing you from growing your business is by making your family understand that you are serious about your business. You will have to be firm with your family about your rules.
Let your family members know your work schedule for the week or even for the month in advance.
If your family members have to look after your kid while you are away, let them know your expectations from them clearly.
If any meetings or commitments are non-negotiable and just simply cannot be adjusted to accommodate emergencies, make it absolutely clear to them.
Stay happy, not guilty
Now I have an entire article on how to be a happy mom, but I will still touch upon this topic here.
As a woman who runs a business while raising a kid, I know for a fact that no matter how hard you try, you will fall short of perfection either in the motherhood department or in the work department.
Instead of letting this weigh you down, you just need to learn to hold your head high and feel proud about trying every single day.
Do not compare your work ethic to the time when you did not have a kid. That was the time when you had a clear singular goal in life, lesser responsibilities at home and definitely no need to run back home early evening.
Now your heart will always be thinking of your baby in the other room or back at home and the constant switch between your role as a mother and as an entrepreneur will not be easy.
So please don’t be your own critic and don’t pull yourself down.
Be happy. Give it time and everything will fall in place. I promise.
Let me tell you that running a business while raising a baby is not easy. Every person will have an opinion on your life. Some may ask you to go easy on your business while some may question you for being lax about it.
Your job is to decide how you want to take your business forward as a mother looking after her baby. Stay clear about your goals and make slow but steady progress.
Finally, enjoy this phase of trying to balance your business life with your new mom life! This period, if put to use properly, will most likely bring out the best in you! All the best!