There are many different challenges, and joys, to running your own business and being a mama. Many of them are the same challenges that all entrepreneurs face. But some are unique to mamahood and the delicate balance we weave with work, life and mothering, and these not so easy to nut out with a solid business plan (though this always helps). I’ve been reflecting about my biggest challenges in this journey to date; so here are my top 3 and my learnings from them.
01/ say no
One of the biggest traps we fall into right from beginning is thinking we can do it all. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am an avid believer that we can achieve all our dreams, have fun along the way and live a life with joy and purpose. But this does not look like saying yes to everyone and everything along the way. I know only too well, especially in the early days of your business, that you want to grab every opportunity that presents itself with both hands. And let’s be honest, cash flow is often tight so we also feel inclined to say yes to work that may not be the best fit but will provide additional funds. It’s a juggle, no doubt. But where possible, and in context, say no to all the things that don’t a) align with your brand b) build the business you want and c) help you grow as a person. What you say no to becomes as important, if not more so, than the things you say yes to. And at the end of the day, your opportunity cost is higher than ever – because the things you say yes to will take you away from your babes, family, friends and other pursuits, so slow down and choose wisely.
02/ multi-focusing will be death of you
Stop multi-focusing. Easier said than done, I know. One of the best tips I have for this is to time block and focus on the scheduled tasks. Set yourself deadlines. Schedule task in correlation to what type of work you like to do when. For example, if you need to do something creative like write blog content, design or create images, do this at a time of day you feel most creative, at ease and have space. I like to get emails and other “admin” tasks done first thing where possible. If you work in a team, communicate to your team what you are working on. This takes a bit of trial and error but it’s worth making the investment to get to know yourself and set your focus accordingly. Be determined and disciplined. Over time, habits will form.
03/ shit does happen
As any Mum will know, shit does hit the fan, and often at the most inconvenient time (hello deadline!). You MUST have a contingency plan of some sort or you will go mental. When you have your own business and small children, you know that at any time, at the drop of a hat, you may need to stop business activities and put your family first. And that’s a given. Family first always. So try to plan for it, rather than let the anxiety build up. Have some basic contingency in place. Know your support network. Always have some pre-prepared content (copy + visual) in the bank in case of emergency. Draft an “out of office” email and have it ready to pop on in case you’re not contactable for a couple of days. Where possible, build a proper support network around you. Look into a Virtual Assistant (VA) – can you casually utilise the services of a VA who can pick up some slack if you’re not available? Again, if you have a team, make sure they’re across the business and know what to run with if required.
But honestly, the two most important things…
01/ look after yourself
Nourish your body and your mind so that when shit does hit the fan, you can be resilient and deal with things quickly and effectively and focus on what really matters.
02/ build real, meaningful relationships with your clients
The kind that will understand if a deadline needs to be moved a tiny bit because you have a sick child. Theses are the things that will add real value to your business.