Most people would love to have a more healthy work-life balance. But the reality is that work weeks have grown longer, more stressful and less healthy, physically and emotionally. Too often, success in the professional sphere comes at the expense of personal and family lives.
Add motherhood to the mix, and that balance is tested once again.
That’s what Lisa Druxman discovered after having her first child in 2001. She had been working 80-hour weeks training corporate executives in physical fitness. I was one of her students. Both of us felt spending time with our children and staying healthy were priorities but we wanted to continue working. We both shared a desire to find a better balance between our careers, higher aspirations and motherhood. She knew didn’t want to return to 80-hour weeks; she started FIT4MOM and interested me in joining her in building the firm. I worked as a franchise owner and now serve on the corporate leadership team.
For other mothers interested in being involved in starting or running businesses, here are some tips to help you realize your dreams:
1. Being a mom doesn’t preclude being a manager or an entrepreneur. Motherhood is one of the most physically and emotionally demanding jobs -- and also one of the most rewarding. The experience turns can turn her world upside down yet can give a woman a new perspective on what’s really important: family, physical and emotional health and overall well-being.
And being a mom doesn’t preclude a woman from having a successful career, staying active and healthy and having a close social network of peers. Today, I’m the mother of three kids yet I also help run a business. It's possible to do both.
2. Always think bigger. Lisa started what she thought would just be a small class, Stroller Strides, never imagining it would grow into a company with corporate staff and thousands of clients. The moral of this story? Don't be too limiting in your approach.
3. Build in flexibility. Everyone is busy. Life constantly throws out challenges: kids who are sick or a babysitter who cancels. So it’s important to foster a company culture that grants employees flexibility and supports their having a balanced work and home life. This might mean letting staff work remotely or participate in a video call instead of flying across the country for a meeting.
4. Make sure the technology supports the culture. Without flexible technology -- tools that can be accessed on the go or a team calendar and work document that can be updated in real time from anywhere, anytime -- the work environment is too rigid. Apps, like Google Docs and Google Hangouts, support a flexible work culture.
With Docs, it's possible to access and update company documents, such as human resources forms, vacation requests or contact information, on mobile phones wherever staffers are. This allows for the ability to quickly request time off or find a colleague’s phone number even outside the office.
But the fact that people work remotely and are spread out across the country doesn’t mean they are any less connected. With Hangouts, used regularly for company-wide staff meetings and instructor training sessions, team members can interact seemingly face-to-face no matter their location.
5. Make the business about more than profits. It's important to support healthy communities, both at a local and national level. (My company raises money for Charity Miles and facilitates education for March of Dimes and Healthy Child Healthy World.) Businesses Should give back to the communities they’re in and show that they have a purpose beyond simply boosting the bottom line.