I had a great phone call today with Sharon Gaskin of The Trainers Training Company. We were talking about (amongst other things) how you can successfully run your own business and do this in conjunction with the demands that children place on us.
I am sure that the utopia that many business women, who happen to be mothers (or fathers who take responsibility for childcare), are all working towards is this… a business which is flexible around the many calls on your time, which the main working hours are between 9:30 and 15:00…AND…. provides you with a comfortable living.
Well, I will keep working towards utopia and will let you know if I get anywhere near it!
Here are our top tips for making your business and family life work for you:
1. Learn how to say no
As a parent there are always many calls on your time. As your business starts to grow the number of people that want to talk with you (grab coffee sometime?) seems to grow exponentially. To keep your life manageable you need to learn to say no – both within your professional and personal life.
2. Have reliable childcare
The business world is not geared up in general for people who are the main childcare provider. There will be times when you need to attend a meeting or visit a supplier and will need childcare for your children. By having at least 4 different childcare options ready if you need it (partner, grandparents, childminder, friends etc) you should be able to juggle the demands of the business and your family.
3. Prepare to work between 6am & midnight
Forget about having a 9-5 working existence. There are times when you will love having the flexibility to put your family first, for example, attendance at school sports day. But, there are times when you find yourself e-mailing at midnight and wishing that you had a more normal working hours and patterns.
4. Be focused and disciplined
As a business owner and parent you have far more calls on your time than the average person. To be able to have it all, you will need to be very focused and disciplined.
5. Invest in automation and efficiency
The more systems & processes that can be automated or run efficiently the more time you will have to spend on the more valuable work based tasks and quality time with the family.
6. Be very protective of your quality time
It is very easy to put your own personal needs for quality time last. In fact, you may not even let yourself have any quality time. To be able to be your best you need to schedule in quality time for yourself.
7. Outsource as much as possible
You don’t need to tell us that this is always another job to do on the to-do list. As soon as you become a parent then the to-do list is never ending – then add in a business to run, and you can easily feel guilty if you stop and try and steal a bit of me time back. To give you back more of your time outsource or delegate as much of the low value tasks, or stuff that doesn’t play to your strengths.
8. Balance your business, family and me time
There will be times when your business will need more of your time and attention and your family and me time will suffer. Just as in the school holidays your family will demand more of your time. However, over time you should look to balance the demands of the business, your family and make sure there is some time left over for yourself.
9. Richard Branson in the making?
There are some very high profile entrepreneurs, such as Richard Branson, who have quickly built up a global empire from small beginnings. Do not compare yourself to these people – you need to grow your business at a pace which you and your family are comfortable with. The Martha Lane Fox’s & Richard Branson’s of this world didn’t have as many calls, in the early days of their businesses, on their time as you do.
10. Don’t hide your children
People want to deal with people. The more open you are with your clients and customers about your family and how you juggle them, the more understanding they will be when, for example, a phone call is interrupted with the immortal words ‘mummy, mummy I’ve done a poo’. (Believe that happens a lot in my house at the moment!)
11. Remember why you started your business in the first place
When times are tough and you wonder whether there is anything more to life than the business, it is worth remembering why you are running your own business. There is nothing quite like having the flexibility to build your professional life around your family commitments. Remember, you can always go back to the 9-5 corporate existence…
12. Be realistic what you can achieve
There are only 24 hours in a day, and I have only met one person who needed less than 6 hours sleep a night. Your business will grow only as fast as you personally push it. If the pace is getting too fast, then take the foot off the accelerator pedal. Don’t fall into the trap of setting yourself unrealistic targets or unrealistic expectations. Unless you can afford a full time cleaner & a cook, the house will not always be tidy and clean, and dinner may not always be freshly cooked and on the table on time.
- 16 ways to improve your work life balance – part 1 Part 1 of a post looking at 16 ways of how you can improve your work life balance....
- Thinking about going part time? Thinking (or have been asked!) of going part-time? Read on for my top tips to make it work for you...
- 8 ways to successfully work from home Whether you are a start-up business, kitchen table entrepreneur, home worker or sole practitioner, your first office space is normally...
- How to say ‘no’ – By the Lawyer Coach One of the best ways of managing your time, is by being able to say 'no'. This article looks at...
- 16 ways to improve your work life balance – part 2 Another 8 tips to improve your work life balance...