Motherhood and business need not be incompatible. Many women – not just Ivanka Trump with her seemingly infinite wealth – manage admirably, while others struggle on one or both fronts. What’s the secret?
It goes without saying that running your own business and having a baby is hard work – and let nobody tell you different. You’ll need plenty of drive and commitment to run a successful business in addition to the energy required to look after your baby. But rather than exhausting yourself in the process of constantly having to make a superhuman effort on the home and work front, there are some basic rules that every working mother can benefit from.
1. Being organised is being in control
When both your job and your baby demand your attention, there’s no spare time to faff around. Streamline your office set-up so everything is in the right place for when you need it. Get a bookkeeper to keep on top of your finances and delegate your admin to a personal assistant if necessary. You need to free your time up for the important stuff.
At work, software tools such as Evernote can help you with daily tasks, project management and digital storage, while staff rostering software tools such as Planday will help you schedule your team quickly and conveniently.
At home, delegate the non-essentials wherever possible. If you do nothing else, get yourself a reliable cleaner, have childcare in place (at least emergency cover) and do your grocery shopping online.
2. By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail
No doubt you’ve heard of the 5 Ps? Proper planning prevents poor performance. When you’re juggling motherhood and business, you need to set aside enough hours to do both. You may need to be ruthless to achieve the holy grail of work-life balance that will allow you to run a successful business.
In terms of business, be crystal clear about what you wish to achieve. Write a business plan, set yourself goals or targets and, then focus on achieving them. Always be aware of where you are financially – many companies falter as a result of funding or cashflow problems. And remember the old saying: revenue is vanity, profit is sanity.
Finally, no modern business can afford to ignore going digital. At the very least, you should have a professional website and a social media profile for your business.
3. Surround yourself with supportive people
If you’re the boss, and particularly if you’re working from home a lot, it’s tempting to think that everything is down to you. The truth is that without an effective network of trusted people to nurture and support you from all sides, you can’t always do it all by yourself.
Don’t underestimate the power of a supportive family. Whether you mum is available to take the little one to the park at short notice so you can meet that deadline, or a friend can do the school run so you can take that important call, or your partner can help out with the grocery shopping or household chores, it all helps to make your life more manageable.
Take advantage of business networking opportunities to share experiences with other business men and women and, of course, to promote your company. Finally, a good circle of friends can be a godsend when you need advice, a shoulder to cry on or someone to celebrate with.
4. You can’t pour from an empty cup
Forgetting about your own needs is probably one of the worst mistakes you can make. But if you don’t replenish your own reserves, how can you be expected to give fully to your job and family when the tank is empty? Answer: you can’t.
Instead of feeling guilty about taking time out for yourself, think about it in terms of investment. You are the most important asset in your business, as well as the most important person in your child’s life, so investing in your own wellbeing will benefit everything else in turn.
Take your own needs seriously and schedule some personal time to do whatever you need – from a 10-minute break reading the newspaper to a gym workout, a long bath, a trip to the hairdressers, a night out with friends or date night with your partner. Better still, take one day a week off just for yourself.