Don't Buy Into the Lies -- It's Possible to Have a Career and a Family
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
While most privately held businesses lost jobs between 1997 and 2007, women-led businesses added approximately 500,000 new positions. And many of those women did so from home.
Home-based businesses give women the flexibility to build successful careers without sacrificing their desire to have a family. While men aren’t generally pressured to choose between the two, women are often discouraged or even ridiculed for trying to “have it all.” Concerns about balance are valid, but don’t let the naysayers stop you -- I didn’t.
Related: Why You Should Leave Work On Time
My second son was born the day my company launched a new product, so I quickly learned how to type and nurse at the same time. It wasn’t easy, but I loved being a mom and running my business. Despite the challenges of time and the financial strain of having kids, I chose both.
I have found this journey so rewarding as a mother and an entrepreneur. Here are six strategies that can help you create a fulfilling path, too:
1. Simplify and prioritize.
Define what success in both business and your personal life looks like for you, and set your priorities accordingly. Simplify by cutting out anything that doesn’t match your definition. If you feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath and prioritize your immediate tasks. Many work “emergencies” can wait.
At home, everything doesn’t have to be perfectly tidy, the kids can shower tomorrow, and it’s OK to order takeout. And don’t forget to prioritize “me time.” It’s not selfish; it’s essential! If you want to last more than a month, you must take care of yourself.
2. Organize and communicate your schedule.
You can’t keep every important date, sports schedule and meeting time in your head, so write it all down at work and at home. Communicate in advance about important meetings or busy workdays with your family so they’ll be prepared to help. My kids are aware of the days I do payroll, so they know those aren’t good times to ask for money.
3. Ask for help.
I was always taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness, so this was a hard one for me to learn. But I learned that finding balance in my life depended on it. When the people around you know what you need, they’ll be eager to help.
4. Build a dream team.
At work, surround yourself with passionate, driven team members who are even smarter than you. After all, you want them to help you take your company to the next level. Ensure that you have people on your team who can connect you to financial resources, customers, markets, suppliers and management. You also need to be confident that your team can handle the tasks you delegate.
5. Be in the present moment.
If you worry about the baby when you’re at the office and obsess about work when you’re at home, you’re wasting precious brainpower. You’ll be more productive at work and happier at home if you concentrate on what’s in front of you.
6. Play to your strengths.
I think “mompreneurs” have a natural ability to be excellent at multitasking, relationship building and adapting. To identify your strengths, use a tool such as the StrengthsFinder assessment or ask family and friends.
When your role at work plays to your strengths, you feel more satisfied with your accomplishments. A work environment where you and others feel fulfilled will be more fun and keep you fresh and able to take on more, even when you’re physically exhausted.
Entrepreneurs start new companies because they aren’t willing to settle for their second choice: working somewhere else. They believe in their dreams enough to put everything into making them reality. They also know how to turn potentially discouraging situations into opportunities. One young mom turned her need for childcare into a business by creating Care.com.
Entrepreneurship and parenthood are each challenging, but you don’t have to be torn between them. Be dedicated to both by staying positive, managing your time and delegating. Don’t settle for less than you want out of life. Just be prepared to occasionally breastfeed while you type.