It was a perfect storm of circumstances which led me to open my own public relations firm when my daughter was just three months old. That was over a year ago, and looking back on those first couple months, I must have been extremely optimistic or extremely crazy. Probably a little bit of both.
More and more women are finding that entrepreneurship is a very enticing option once they become new mothers. The idea of being able to be at home with your child, yet still have a connection to the professional world seems to meld the best of both worlds. Plus, you get to actually bring in some money and not have to spend it on childcare. Almost seems to be too good to be true, right?
That’s because, most of the time, it is.
Becoming a business owner is no small task, but add in all the responsibilities of being a parent, and things can get overwhelming fast. You become pulled in every direction like some sort of Gumby doll. I remember not only being stressed, but feeling utterly lost.
There is no roadmap on how to create a good work/life balance for anyone, but it’s especially important for those of us who work from home to create a set of rules for ourselves so that we can maintain our sanity as we strive for success. Here are just a few that I’ve learned along the way.
Rule #1: Set Working Hours and Stick to Them as Best You Can
Schedules are essential for kids, and they are pretty important for adults too. By telling yourself that you’ll answer emails until 6pm and not answering client’s texts at all hours, you establish a strict schedule which will hopefully allow you to turn work off for a few hours.
Rule #2: Get Help
This should actually be rule number one, and it’s one I wish I figured out a lot sooner. Once I acquired more clients, it was no longer manageable for me to be my daughter’s sole caretaker. So, I hired a part time nanny to come in during the mornings so that I could go to meetings, take conference calls, and even the occasional shower. Maybe you need an accountant, a babysitter or another employee to help lighten your load. Hire one. Once you learn to delegate and loosen your grip, it can allow you to focus on the things you need to do to be truly successful in your business.
Rule #3: Never Underestimate the Power of Networking
Being an entrepreneur, or in my case a mompreneur, can be lonely at times. You don’t always have co-workers to go to lunch with or colleagues who you can commiserate with after a long day. That’s why it can help to join networking clubs, chambers, and local business organizations. Referrals are crucial for those who are sole-proprietors, and they can be more effective than even the most strategized cold pitch.
At the end of the day, all the rules in the world won’t matter unless you trust yourself and follow your instincts. You are the only one who knows your limits and how far you can push it until it becomes diminishing returns. It’s like that old saying goes, never get too busy making a living that you forget to make a life.