Being a mom is no picnic. Add running a business to that, and things can get complicated and out of hand in no time.
I get it. I’m a mom, I have a business, and my child is far from driving age. I am astounded at how moms (and dads) run a successful business and cultivate a family at the same time. Not just doing it, but doing it well. Managing to stay on top of your family life, friends, social life (you do have one, right?), your employees and your overall business can be done. You’ve got to have some tricks up your sleeve and in your calendar to really pull it off.
Here are five things you need to make running a business and a family a little easier:
Being a parent is all about choices and priorities. Being a business owner is also about choices and priorities. Every decision you make, whether about organizing or keeping it together should come out of a list of priorities you have set in place from the beginning.
If you haven’t thought much about it, now is the time. For example, is it important for you to put your kids on the bus in the morning? Then early bird networking meetings will generally be out. Little decisions like this may feel like they close off your opportunities, but you’d be surprised at how many doors they will open. Sometimes the choice will be painful, and there will be exceptions if something life-altering comes up (like media coverage or the Queen coming to tea).
Having priorities will guide day-to-day decisions you make as a parent-owned business, giving you a structure to operate from. Lastly, they will help you ensure you are keeping things straight, whatever the definition is for you.
2. Communication & Boundaries:
This means communication and boundaries with your partner, spouse, children, employees and anyone else who will be affected by your business hours and location of your office (especially one in your home). Make sure it’s very clear what your office is for, and what it isn’t for. Communicate about meetings, including when they are and if any other arrangements need to be made around them (like babysitters or transportation).
If you don’t work weekends (as laid out by your Priorities set above), then make sure your clients know this. You will be amazed at how gracious clients are, how they will respect your boundaries. The ones who don’t may likely be the ones you don’t want anyway.
3. Leverage Technology
Smartphones are changing the face of business – for good. If you are a mom with a business, it’s almost critical you have one. Having access to important email and information gives you peace of mind when you are out and away from your laptop. It even gives you an opportunity to get away from the laptop entirely!
Use your time wisely, and leverage a tool like a smartphone to your advantage – shell out the extra money each month, it’s worth it. Also, tools like Google Apps enable you to have access to your email, calendar, contacts and documents you need to run your business all in one central location. GPS will help you get to important meetings with minimum hassle. Communication tools like Skype help you quickly and easily talk with clients and colleagues. Ask your peers what they are using, and how they are using their smartphones. You might find a great tool you never knew about!
4. Make Your Office a Lean, Mean Productivity Machine
If you hate your office, you’re going to migrate to other areas in your home, coffee houses and corners – spreading your office around like dust in the wind. Make your office a place you want to be.
Get the paper under control with a place for mail, projects, archival materials and active files. Make sure your computer is in good working order, and consider upgrading to one that has enough horse power to keep you on task, with minimal frustration (the blue screen of death is not your friend). Get a chair that is comfortable and a desk with enough room to move.
If you share an office, make sure each partner has their own space to move and work independently. Put up inspirational quotes, decor that speaks to you and clear out any supplies that are no longer useful or needed. Make your office work FOR you, not against you. (Hiring a professional for an outside perspective is a great idea if you are stuck on where to start.)
5. Fill Up Your Own Tank
If you are passionate about what you do (and what entrepreneur isn’t?) it’s easy to get sucked into working everyday, all day, seven days a week. Remember to take time out for yourself, doing something you like to do.
As a mom, it’s easy to get wrapped up in doing for others in work and in our families. Make sure you also are doing things for yourself, so you have it within you to give back. Volunteer, go out with the girls for a night or weekend away, go on a date with your partner or spouse, go have coffee with a friend, get a massage, take a yoga class or go to an art museum. Whatever it is, take the time out for yourself and you’ll be a happier, more well-adjusted parent and business owner.