Everyone’s experience as a parent is different, but balancing motherhood as a business owner is something of a unique challenge. When you run your own business, it isn’t just a case of turning up, doing a good job and getting paid at the end of each month. Many business owners live and breathe their businesses. As such, it can be difficult trying to give both your business and your family 100% of yourself. It's a fine balancing act, but one that many women find themselves navigating. If you are trying to balance motherhood and running a business, here are some tips on how to get started:
1. Create a separate workspace
This is a vital tip for any parent that works remotely. Whether it's a separate room in your house, a garden pod, a co-working space or an office, you need space to work that is away from family life. To be effective, you can’t go hunting through the ironing pile to find your business cards or watching out for toddler snacks landing on your laptop. Even if you work in a local café each morning, getting away from home life and switching to a business-mindset is vital to working effectively and efficiently.
2. Set clear boundaries
Both your family and your business need your attention, and you can’t do both at the same time without there being compromises. Although running a small business is a full-time job that often creeps into your personal life, it's important to put your overall well-being first by setting clear boundaries. Deciding when you work and when you don't is important for you, your business and your family. Whether that means you only check emails for an hour on weekends, or not at all during the evenings, setting clear expectations and boundaries for yourself and your clients is vital when you're balancing running a business and parenthood.
3. Manage your time effectively
Before every phone call, every email, every meeting you attend or every event you agree to, ask yourself if it's necessary. Is it important? Is it in line with your objectives? It's very easy to get side-tracked, especially by things that are urgent but not necessarily important. Ensure that you have clear business objectives and stick to them. A business coach or mentor can be a great help with this – taking you away from the day-to-day running of the business for a short time to think about the bigger picture.
4. Communicate clearly and be open and honest
When you're getting your business started, and especially when you secure your first couple of big clients, it can be tempting to never say no and promise them the earth. But if you or your team can’t deliver something it's much better to be open and honest and find a solution together. Overpromising and underdelivering won’t help you create a sustainable business for the long term. Be very realistic about what you can achieve, and don't overpromise and stretch yourself.
5. Build a great team around you
You don’t have to do it all yourself. Don’t be afraid to delegate and do what works for you, whether that simply means outsourcing your accounting, or hiring a part time admin assistant. Though it can seem like a risk to let go, you really can achieve more if you let people help. Whether it's staff for your business, or help with running the family, gather support around you that you can rely on.
Inspiring British businesswomen
There are a number of high-profile British mothers who have successfully run their own businesses as their children have grown up. Most of them have inspiring stories and great lessons to share about how they made it work for them. It's worth taking a look at their stories and keeping up with their advice on social media if you need a boost.
1. Karren Brady has become one of the highest-profile, most respected female business leaders whilst raising her two children. She is passionate about supporting women in business and has a strong belief that hard work and ambition can make any dream a reality. Karren has also created an online community where she shares masterclasses and insight, skills and experience from some of the UK’s top business leaders to help readers further their careers.
2. Karen Skidmore is an inspiring business owner who balances motherhood with running her own business as a marketing consultant and business advisor. In her new book, she looks at the increasing problems around burnout and how business leaders and entrepreneurs can increase profits but in a way that is healthy and sustainable. She is a strong believer in the art of delegation, of not working in the holidays and ensuring you achieve your best work-life balance.
3. Miisa Mink is the founder of DrivenWoman, a women’s networking club where women support each other to the life they actually want. Miisa says it was the birth of her twin boys that made her re-evaluate what success meant to her. She is an advocate of providing practical support to enable women to achieve everything that they want to – including balancing motherhood as a business owner.
Running a business around your family definitely has its challenges, but it can be a reality. With the right mindset, tools and support in place, you can achieve a healthy balance and enjoy the best of both worlds.
About the Author
Rebecca Newenham is Founder and Director of award-winning virtual agency Get Ahead VA. Her team of over 40 virtual assistants and 5 franchisees provides marketing and business support services to SMEs and entrepreneurs across the UK. Rebecca is a champion of flexible working and active supporter of women in business.