Mother’s Day Advice for Running a Family and a Business
Happy Mother’s Day! It takes a lot of gumption to grow a business and run a family, but you’re doing it. You’re not just an entrepreneur, you’re a mompreneur, which comes with its own set of obstacles.
Here to help you navigate the mompreneur journey is Stephanie Zamora: mother, KCSourceLink alum, business advisor and owner of True North Entrepreneurs. Many of her mompreneur clients have chosen entrepreneurship as a means to be with their families while also charting their own paths and living their passion.
That path and passion looks a little different depending on the mompreneur. But one thing seems true throughout—it’s going to be messy . . . and oh so beautiful:
From the outside, moms and dads who work from home sometimes look like they have it all. They get to make choices about their time. They are their own bosses. They can work in their pajamas every day.Their kids are happy, lives are fulfilled and business is thriving.
Only from the inside, it looks quite different. In reality, “having it all” oftentimes looks like doing it all . . . for everyone . . . all the time. If you aren’t careful, work and family meld into one big disappointing mess; kids screaming during a conference call, begging you to PLEASE get off the phone.
It doesn’t have to be that way. With a bit of planning and foresight, work-life balance is possible. Not convinced? Here is some advice straight from mompreneurs in the trenches:
Take your business seriously. Begin with a plan in mind.
A 10-page business plan isn’t necessary. Take a basic startup class and complete a feasibility study that will help you determine things like:
How long will it take you to make the thing or provide the service?
How much will you make after paying expenses?
How much do you need to make?
How do people find this product or service? How much time and money will it take to sell to them?
Then ask yourself? Do I have the space in my life to make all these things happen? What am I willing to give up?
Build your goals and marketing around family activities and needs.
Do you have a big family Christmas party scheduled at your house and plan on making 20 percent of your sales during the holiday season? Sounds like a potential mess! You may need to adjust your sales expectations or schedule the party at your sister’s house.
Use block scheduling to maximize productivity.
Every business owner wears a dozen or more hats. As a mompreneur, you have the added complication of family responsibilities that happen in the middle of your work day.
“The hardest part about working from home is feeling the need for the house to be clean and organized before I can focus on any business matters...it is such a mental game I play with myself.” Steph Novack Well Wilderness Kids Therapeutic Nature Center
Blocking out your week visually ahead of time is helpful. It will help you ensure you have set aside time for all the important aspects of your life and business, including managing current business activities, bookkeeping, marketing and social media. Plus family responsibilities like cooking, cleaning, never-ending laundry and raising tiny humans.
Instead of writing one blog post, then doing some bookkeeping, block out two hours writing posts for the month and get them scheduled. Use a timer to notify you when it’s time to switch gears and then honor the commitment you made to yourself.
Have clear boundaries between work and family.
As a small business owner, we want to provide excellent customer service and do a great job. In today’s connected world, many entrepreneurs feel that they have to respond immediately or miss out on opportunity. Being constantly connected and always working leads to burnout—quick!
“When I was just getting started and really needed the money, I felt like I had to say YES to everything and I had to say it NOW. But the stress of that was killing me, and I wasn't giving my clients good service. Not to mention the toll it was taking on my marriage and kids. However... when I started setting the ‘do not disturb’ times it really made a HUGE difference in everything, and I have the energy to be excited about my business again now. It’s also challenging getting ‘everyone else’ to respect your boundaries. Because I’m home, friends, family, acquaintances think I can just drop everything and do what they want. ” Jenn Warren Crazy Dog Creative
Set times to turn on and off work.
Many mompreneurs find the best time to work is after the kids have gone to bed. It’s easy to let time get away from you if you don’t set a timer. Sleep, sex and downtime are important. None of which happens while you are working.
“Having the mobility and flexibility to work from home is great, but when you get a call or a problem at 9:30 p.m., if you don't turn off, you find yourself working. And if clients know they can get a response from you at all hours, they aren't going to respect your boundaries either. While obviously there are some fires that need putting out at less than ideal times, most things can wait until scheduled hours. With an office job, when you walk out you are off the clock.” Taylor Akinmoladun Platinum Realty
Take things off your task list by using tools and systems to automate your business.
Use an autoresponder and a client relationship management (CRM) system to provide clients with the information they are most likely to need from you to make a purchase. This maximizes your time and allows customers to get the information immediately. A CRM system allows you to maintain meaningful contact with potential clients with minimal effort. The most popular days for social media is Saturday and Sunday, which is family time. Use a scheduling tool and reserve weekends for family time.
Lower your expectations.
Perfect life. Successful business with steady growth. Happy kids, lovingly homeschooled. Impeccably clean home . .. Managing expectations is key to happiness. In reality, for the average mompreneur, “having it all” looks a lot more like disappointing everyone a little most of the time.
“The hardest part about working from home is finding a way to be everything for everyone at the same time. I have to be studio owner for my clients, mommy for my littles and stay-at-home wifey for the husband that constantly says, 'Well, since you’re home...' It’s a lot of hats to wear. My husband and I discussed today what I made in 2017, he says I need to be more focused so I can hit my ‘long term’ goal of 75k this year...As I was sitting in my chair while my littlest literally sat on my shoulder smashing my hair. I was like, could you focus if this was your everyday?” Courtney Stanton Stag and Bird Photography
Rather than dropping the ball completely in one area of life, I suggest taking your expectations for yourself in all areas of your life and cut them down by 20 percent (at least). Your house can be messy. You may not have consistent business growth. You won’t be able to attend every single practice for Little Teddy. It’s okay. He will see his mama leave a space in her life for her hopes and dreams. That’s always a good thing.
Make time for self-care.
Working from home means there is no escaping the work. It’s literally everywhere all the time and so are the distractions.
Self-care is intentionally unplugging from all of it. From work, from kids, from friends and husbands to connect with things that leave you feeling restored. Read a book for fun. Paint a picture. Do yoga. Take a walk. Do restorative massage. Sleep. (Seriously. Four hours isn’t enough sleep every night.)
The demands on mompreneurs are never ending and for some moms, they continue into the wee hours of the night only to begin again the next day. The fact is, you can’t pour from an empty cup and your family (first) and clients (second) deserve more than worn out, stressed out, overworked you. Plan self-care and honor the commitment you’ve made to yourself—you will see great returns in your quality of life.
Know your why.
Running a business and a family is a delicate balancing act. Remembering why you chose to start a business, and why you chose to build one with your family at the heart of it all, will carry you through the never ending days when your many bosses (both client bosses and tiny human bosses) have been especially rough on you.
Our children are only small for a short time and we want to spend time with them and help them grow. When they need us, we can drop everything and be there. We also have dreams and goals of our own. Despite the messy days, having a little bit of it all is pretty beautiful.
More guidance on the mompreneur journey.
Drop KCSourceLink a line
for a step-by-step guide of the resources you need to grow your business in Kansas City. They will send you a Personalized Action Plan, and you’ll sleep a little better tonight knowing that we are all in this together. Follow True North Entrepreneurs
on Facebook for inspiration and encouragement.
Photo by Alexander Dummer