The Naptime Entrepreneur: Pursuing Your Business in 'Off Hours'

Tips to building your enterprise while having another commitment, such as young children.

learn more about Maggie Lord

By Maggie Lord

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Working around a baby's schedule to build a business sounds crazy, but it has worked for me. When you have your first child, everyone tells you to "sleep when the baby sleeps," but I worked while the baby slept.

Plenty of other entrepreneurs take a similar strategy, working hard at day jobs and then building their business during nights, weekends and vacations instead of relaxing and recharging.

My company has grown from a basic wedding blog to a full-fledged brand that continues to grow. RusticWeddingChic receives 1.5 million visits a month, and I've written three books and built relationships with major national brands as the web's top resource for rustic and country weddings.

Related: The Secret to Prioritizing Your Time

Whatever your situation, when building a business with restrictions on your time, there are a few key principles to keep in mind to build your business.

When it's work time, it's work time. When I was starting out, I used to try to sneak in an email response on my iPhone at the playground, but I would either miss important information in the emails or not fully form my thoughts -- answering an email while distracted isn't good business. Most emails can wait until you're in business mode and in front of your computer.

Having limited time to work also keeps me focused on doing actual work-related activities. I don't shop online, check Facebook or read the news. I love to bounce around the internet, but when the work clock starts, I'm all business.

Know your tipping point. As your business grows, chances are it's going to demand more of your time. Be aware of your tipping point -- the moment when you need to hire help or clear more of your calendar to move your company forward.

For me, that meant hiring a sitter for a few blocks of time per week so that I could take phone calls with my publisher and get uninterrupted work time. For you, that might mean cutting back to part-time hours or consulting in order to open up availability of regular business hours for your own company.

Related: After-Hour Client Calls: How Late Is Too Late?

A burnt-out entrepreneur is a lousy entrepreneur. In the early days, I spent lots of nights and weekends building my brand, but today I reserve that time for my family (though the occasional nighttime work session certainly sneaks in, and I always try to do press appearances or have partner meetings during vacations). Go hard while you have to, but know when to scale it back.

I've found that time with my family isn't a distraction; it actually adds to my success. My husband, who's also a writer, understands my time restrictions and the challenges of running a business. Some of the best ideas I've had have come from dinner conversations or walks. Talking about your business with family and friends can help inspire you while keeping you connected and balanced.

Work smarter, not longer. You often hear, "Work smarter, not harder," but I choose to work smarter, not longer. Since starting my business, I've hired three regular freelancers to help me with writing, publicity and social media -- all areas that were taking up lots of my time and attention and that I knew I needed help with to do well. I choose to focus my time on the things that make the most impact, and that's a decision that every entrepreneur should be making along the way.

I come from a long line of entrepreneurs, so I knew that with hard work and determination, it was possible to build my own business. That being said, building a business and a family at the same time wasn't always easy. It's taken me time to realize that both my son and my business need my attention -- but not at the same time. By resolving to be present in either of these priorities when I'm focusing on them, building a brand and a family has been possible.

Related: 5 Tips for Launching a Side Business

Maggie Lord

Founder of Rustic Wedding Chic and The Rustic Wedding Guide

Maggie Lord is the founder of Rustic Wedding Chic and The Rustic Wedding Guide and the author of The Rustic Wedding Handbook. She lives in Fairfield, Conn., where she balances caring for her 3-year-old son, Jack, and running an online site for couples planning rustic and country weddings.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Have More Responsibilities at Work, But No Pay Bump? Use This Script to Get the Raise You Deserve.
Black and Asian Founders Face Opposition at All Levels — Here's Why That Has to Change