Want to know what’s scarier than starting your own business? Starting a business when you’re a parent. It’s a balancing act you never get right, and some days you wonder why you made the crazy decision to be both .
Starting out, you think it’s going to be amazing. You think you’ll take better care of yourself, spend more time with your family and friends, take up yoga and you’ll finally have the freedom and flexibility to work on projects and with clients you love.
Reality hits quickly! The man hours, the stress, the financial pressure - it’s a whole new ball game. It’s baptism by fire, and you experience the highest highs and the lowest lows working for yourself.
Want to know what’s even harder and will pretty much send you over the edge? Adding a little one to the mix.
Parenting and business; when you throw the two together, you become a fumbling mess of fitting everything into nap time, praying for day care days, typing emails while doing the mash potato and hoping the mysterious stain on your shirt for a meeting is chocolate.
Work-life balance….. what a joke! It seemed impossible, and for me it really got too much. I’d been working part time in my business and I wanted to take the next step forward, but I was totally lost. I knew I had to do something quick!
That’s when I found Clare. Clare Wood is a business coach who supports mums in business achieve their business goals. She believes that you truly can live the life you dream of, but it’s not going to be easy. You need to be strategic and get yourself the right tools and support you need to succeed.
Here are Clare’s Top 5 Tips to surviving and thriving in business as a parent:
- Write down your purpose and stay true to it. Why did you start your business in the first place? Is it more time with your family, more money, more flexibility or better work-life balance. If you want to spend more time with your children or improve your work life balance, then make it a priority. Don’t let your business overtake your life. It’s hard to set personal boundaries especially if you work from home, but if your purpose is balance and family, then that needs to be at the centre at all times.
- Become a time management genius. When you are your own boss, you have to hold yourself accountable. Time is always against us, so map out the hours of your week to make sure you can fit everything in. Things will change, and you will constantly be updating your schedule, but just adjust as you go and find the hours elsewhere. You need to treat your business like a business and give it the time it needs to succeed.
- Have a plan. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Make sure you have a plan and a realistic budget. You need to make sure you can afford to run your own business and have reasonable expectations about how much money you’ll make in the first year. According to Australian Securities Commission*, the number one reason that small businesses fail is due to poor cash flow.
- Get the right support. You cannot do this alone. Think about the corporate jobs you’ve had before this. You probably had a manager and teams of people including HR, administration, accounting, payroll, marketing etc. You need to set up a network of support that will help your business. Hire a babysitter, a cleaner, a business coach and anyone else you need to make sure you set yourself up for success.
- Give yourself a break. You CANNOT do everything! Be reasonable about what you can achieve and remember that running your own business will have the highest highs and the lowest lows. Take time out for yourself when you need it and schedule in self-care and rest. Working hard is NOT the same as burning out or else what’s the point, so look after yourself!
The biggest things I realised was;
1) I was unrealistic in my expectations and
2) My time management was rubbish! Through coaching, I learned it wasn’t about having it all. It’s about knowing what you REALLY want and then going after it bit by bit.
Clare said it best when she said “Stop. Take a few hours or a day off if you can. Run a bath, go and sit in the sun. Meditate. Then come back and put together your top 3 priorities and focus JUST on those. The best way to eat an elephant is one mouthful at a time.”
Now, I am clearer about my goals; I have a better support network and clear boundaries to service my business and my family with the same energy and passion. Yes, there are days where a sippy cup is spilt over my client brief, or I’m doing a meeting with a cuddly little man stuck to me like a koala – but being a professional and a parent is not about being perfect.
Cheers to surviving, cheers to thriving and cheers to the messy ups and downs of succeeding as a parent and a business owner.
Clare Wood is a problem solver. A planner, a mentor and most of all your champion. As your business coach, she provides encouragement, accountability and drives you towards your goals. She helps you work through challenges at any stage, and knows firsthand the experience of running two successful businesses while also raising a family.
If you need support or want to speak to Clare about strategies to help you navigate and grow your business, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org