I decided to set up my own business after the birth of my daughter. I’d had a long and successful career already, built up my skills, and thought ‘wouldn’t it really be great to do this for myself, and be the ‘parentpreneur’ that can have it all’…
I’d always worked in Marketing (save for a random first job buying aircraft parts, but we won’t go into that!). It was an industry I loved and knew well. I had many contacts that I had built good relationships with over the years, and had a good working knowledge of how ‘business’ works – so surely taking the leap and doing it for myself couldn’t be that hard!
The reality is that although utterly exciting and completely liberating compared to the standard 9-5, running your own business can be tough, it can be lonely, it can be challenging… Add to this the fact that you are also trying to make time to be the best possible parent there is, and there’s one hell of a lot of pressure, which can lead to resentment towards or disillusionment with what you are trying to achieve.
I found quite quickly that when I was working, I’d feel guilty about not spending time with my daughter. And equally, when I was spending time with her, I felt guilty about the proposal I was supposed to be writing, or the social media posts I was supposed to be creating on behalf of my clients.
So, in the spirit of February being the ‘month of love’, I thought I’d share a few tips that have helped me along the way, and made sure I didn’t fall out of love with my business!
Create boundaries – Look at your time realistically, and separate home life from business tasks. Sounds simple right? But all too often I fell into the trap of trying to reply to emails, or update my website whilst in ‘daughter time’, which left both of us frustrated. You’ll be more productive setting aside time when you can concentrate properly – obviously this all depends on factors like the ages of your children, childcare cover, what your business needs are, where you run your business from etc. Mine was from the kitchen table, so I had to set clear parameters for when the laptop was on/off.
Have clear objectives – Review the overall goal of where you want to take your business, and try to chunk it down into small manageable pieces. What’s the saying…? ‘How do you eat an elephant… one bite at a time!’. I know where I’d love to be this time next year, so broke that down into monthly goals, set weekly challenges to help me get there, and put daily practices in place to achieve those challenges. When you look at things one day at a time, it looks far less daunting! And will be much more manageable around your ultimate priority – the family!
Take regular reviews – Make some time to regularly assess how things are going. I set aside half a day every month just to look at what went well (or didn’t!) the previous month. Did I achieve everything I needed / wanted to? If not, why? Did I set unrealistic targets, or did life through me a curve ball (like an unexpectedly ill child?) How do I get back on track, or how do I need to tweak my plan for this month to feel fulfilled in my business life?
Assess any frustrations – You’ve obviously set up your business because its something you enjoy and are good at, but are there any areas that you find particularly challenging / time consuming (accounting / admin / social media etc)? Look to outsource these areas… It can be hard when first starting out to find the budget to do this, but the time and energy that you can then put back into your parenting/business and doing the things you love is far more valuable!
Don’t forget, you are not alone – In this day and age so many parents are embracing the business journey, and enjoying a flexible working lifestyle. And there are lots of online and offline business support networks where you can seek support and advice – similarly, there are lots of parent groups too. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of others, my experience is that all ‘parentpreneurs’ are more than happy to share their experiences and tips 😊