Eight years. It's hard to believe that I started my business eight years ago when my son was born. It's even harder to believe that we have remained a home-based business for that entire period. It made sense. I could be home with him at all hours, work during nap times and around his playtimes. As we hired more employees, I set them up to work virtually from their homes and gave them all keys to my house. It worked . . . until now. My business is finally moving into office space. I guess I just reached a tipping point. It was time, for my business and for my family. I can't help but feel like my business is growing up, just as my kids are.
When I started Stroller Strides , it was small (like my baby) and only needed a few hours per day of my time. As my children grew, so did my business's needs. Looking back, my business has grown very fast. But then again, so have my kids.
I am often asked (through this column): When is the right time to start your mompreneur business or what is the right type of business? If possible, you should choose a business that can start small and be supportive of your goals as a family. For me, I would never trade being home to see my son's first steps or my daughter's first ballet class. I am content knowing I was home to put them down for naps and to pick them up from school. If you can, you may want to keep your business small and not try to take over the world so you can be present for these precious moments. Now that my son is in third grade, I can see that he doesn't need me to be around so much. Besides being in school full time, he plays with his friends for hours. I can see that I will have plenty of years to work traditional business hours.
Traci Bisson, founder of The Mom Entrepreneur , describes a similar experience. When her children were younger, she had more one-on-one time to spend with them throughout the day. She was most productive when the kids were napping or after they went to bed. Because of this, Bisson's client load needed to be smaller so she could manage with limited hours. "As any mom entrepreneur will tell you--and as I know you understand--it is a fine balance every day to make sure you are giving your kids everything they need. Family first," Bisson says.
Author and radio host Maria Bailey came to the Stroller Strides National Conference this year. She sat in the back of a session I taught on work/family balance. Bailey smiled as she heard me describe all of the struggles of balancing being a business owner and a mother. Bailey's children are teenagers now. She reassured us that it won't always be this challenging. Bailey now flies around the country to her various speaking and marketing events, knowing that her grown children are fine and she can now focus on her career.
It's no secret that you will sacrifice things in your life when you become a mom. As an entrepreneur, I think the biggest sacrifice is that you may have to hold back your business or say no to certain opportunities to benefit your family. It's important that we choose to do this, without resentment. It should not reflect poorly on you or your business if you create a business that is family-focused. Here are my tips so that you can continue to grow your business as you grow your family:
- You create the vision and the road map of how to get to the goal.
- Delegate. Hire out everything you can so that there is progress when you are with your family.
- Partner up. You may be able to get twice as much done if you have a like-minded partner with the same goal.
- Work smart. If you have fewer hours to work, make sure the time you do have is spent on the Most Important Things.
- Get spousal support. Get buy-in from your spouse so that he helps with parenting as you grow your business.
We are charting new territory as mompreneurs. We can set the rules about our businesses and how to blend business with family.