A new business is like a baby. It constantly needs attention and it can take several years before it can “walk on its own.” So when you decide to start a business when you have a baby, or you are a mom-to-be, you are taking on twice the responsibility at a pivotal time in your life. Not only are you trying to get your business baby off the ground, you are learning to be a parent which is exhausting, all-encompassing and just plain hard.
As I approach my due date for my second child, I am reminded of my first few months as a new mom in summer, 2019. As I neared the end of my maternity leave from my full time position, I knew that the last thing I wanted to do was go back to the office. So instead I hung up my commuting shoes to become a freelance writer and travel blogger.
First off, I should be fair and say I have a partner who was and continues to be very supportive both emotionally and financially of my decision to pursue my dreams. He also provides the family health insurance. On top of that, my mom retired about 9 months after I had my first daughter to take over her full time care so that I could spend more time on my business. I have a very strong and solid support system and I know that that is rare.
Even with all of this help though, I still found myself overwhelmed by everything that goes into starting, running and building a business, coupled with breastfeeding, taking care of an infant, and running a household. And while there are days that I wish I was more successful, made more money, had more time with my daughter, etc., almost four years later I am still working as a freelance writer and travel blogger, have more clients and collaborations than ever, and I am actually trying to figure out just how I can take a maternity leave when I am so busy (I’ll be sharing more about that in the next edition of Quotable, so stay tuned!).
Here are the top 3 things you should know to get started with a business when having a baby.
Make Your Business Work for You, Not the Other Way Around
It should be argued that this should be true of any job, whether you’re starting your own business or you’re an employee working for someone else. You need your professional position to match your personal goals.
If you want to be around your child more, you need to decide on a business that will allow you to do that, monetarily and time-wise. If you prefer to be a full-time entrepreneur because you know you are a better parent when you have a professional purpose, then that is how you should set up your business.
What this can look like in your business: When you are writing up your business plan (which should always be the first thing you do when getting started), you will need to map out how many hours a week you plan to work. If you are a new parent, or parent-to-be, take it a step further and sketch out what your typical work week will look like. If you know you have child care (whatever that looks like for you) from 8 a.m. to noon time every day, that’s when you should be frontloading your work. If you know that nap time is from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., that’s when you should keep your calendar open for meetings.
What this can look like in your personal life: You can also write up a personal plan. This can be as detailed as you’d like and can be updated frequently. Map out things like bathtimes, feeding times, shopping trips, your weekly/monthly budget, doctors appointments and other important events. This way you will know everything you need to run your household and ensure everyone is healthy – including you! Which is another thing, try to include some “me time” in your personal plan. After all, even moms and entrepreneurs need a few moments here and there to decompress.
Start Delegating to Your Support System Right Away
Moms have a tendency of trying to handle it all and this can start even before we have the baby. Women in business tend to do the same thing. Whether we’re hardwired that way or have become conditioned to think we need to “do it all on our own,” it doesn’t matter. The fact is that it is impossible to do everything – both in business and in child-rearing.
You know that saying, “it takes a village to raise a child?” Not only is it 100% true, the same goes for starting a business. Unless you want to burn out within a few months, you need to start delegating to your support system right away.
What this can look like in your business: If you can afford to outsource, the first step is recognizing what role you need to play in your business. If you are a website copywriter, then obviously you’re the one who will be doing the writing. But you may not be good with numbers so finding a reliable accountant to outsource your bookkeeping would be a smart move.
Outsourcing doesn’t always mean hiring someone else to take on part of your business. Sometimes it can be as simple as finding a good automation system or CRM. That way you stop spending so much time doing things like invoicing or crafting reply emails to possible leads, and you can put that time back into what you love to do.
What this can look like in your personal life: If you have a partner, let them take shifts in feeding, changing diapers, etc. You should also make up a list of household chores like laundry, cleaning, food shopping, meal prep, etc. and divide them up. Or if there is a grandparent you can rely on for help, bring them “on board” to take on some of the responsibilities.
If you find yourself on your own, you’re going to need to make some kind of arrangements for child care. Whether you hire a nanny for a few hours a day, full time, or send your child to daycare, make sure you have done your homework on who is going to be watching your baby so you can feel confident in their services. That way you won’t be worrying about what’s going on as you are trying to work.
Celebrate Your Successes, But Don’t Beat Yourself Up Over Your Failures
It is so exciting when you nail that first client, make your monthly income goal, or even better, surpass it. When your child says their first word, takes their first step, you should also be patting yourself on the back. It is so important (and easy) to celebrate those successes because this is what will keep you feeling excited in your business and in life.
But when you don’t meet that business goal, or have a sleepless night because all of a sudden your little one’s sleep pattern changes and you can’t figure out how to get them to go back to dreamland, it can be so tempting to label yourself a failure, or a bad mom.
But before you start to judge yourself on those so-called “failures,” take an assessment of why whatever you are upset about happened.
What this can look like in your business: If you didn’t meet that goal ask yourself if this is something that you could have controlled, or was it something that just didn’t happen through no fault of your own? If you may have missed something, then of course you need to work on that. But if it is something like a client just didn’t come through, that is not necessarily your fault. Work on your contingency plan, put a few extra feelers out there, see if there are places you can cut back on your expenses (both personal and business) for the next month to make up for the loss of income.
What this can look like in your personal life: Before you beat yourself up over your baby’s refusal to sleep (or breastfeed, or whatever), the first thing you need to do is tell yourself that it is not your fault. While babies may seem like all they do is eat and sleep, they do have minds of their own. A simple Google search may help you to understand they are going through a sleep regression, or it’s time to move on from breastfeeding. But if you are truly concerned, the best thing to do is to call your pediatrician and let them know what’s been going on (which can also count as outsourcing if you want to get technical about it!).
When it comes down to it, if you are considering starting your own business and you have a baby, the most important thing to know is that it is always going to be a balancing act. Surround yourself with a good support system, map out your business and personal plan, and don’t forget to celebrate every achievement. With everything you’re doing, you deserve it, Mama!