Article by Sheila Bayliss
More and more mums are setting up as self-employed these days. Technology has made it more possible to combine looking after the kids with looking after a business. (How did people run a business before smartphones came along?) But mumpreneurs also have something else going for them. We’ve come via the training ground of one of the toughest jobs there is – motherhood – and alot of what we learn there can help us bring up our baby business too.
So here are some of the ways that having a new business is like having a new baby.
Remember those newborn days? You probably felt like you were completely flying by the seat of your pants, all the while hoping you looked like you knew what you were doing. When you first get up and running with your business, it can feel a bit like being there all over again. Suddenly it’s all down to you to figure out the finances, the technical stuff and the marketing plan. Going on instinct can feel a bit scary. But when you search around for an instruction manual, all the conflicting advice out there can seem confusing, or just not right for you. Learning to trust your gut is all part of the learning curve.
Your venture needs constant feeding. You learn pretty quickly when you work for yourself that some tasks are never ‘done’. Promotion isn’t a phase you go through at the start, it needs topping up week in and week out. Over time, you work out your own way of managing this – and learn to spot the signs of when a feed is due before your business starts screaming for it.
Settling into a routine. This is what you’re hoping for once the new start-up settles down a bit. But combining being a mum with running your own business can mean getting very creative with your schedule. Finding some windows of time for work can feel like chasing the holy grail, but in the end you figure out what works for you. (Anyone else been known to get stuff done in the middle of the night when you’re up anyway with one of the kids?) And just when you think you’ve nailed it, the needs of the kids or the needs of the business change again, and you have to adjust by changing the routine once more.
The dreaded questions. People will ask you questions that seem designed to make you feel like a failure – even though of course they’re just trying to show an interest. With a new baby, no doubt you’ll have been asked (barely 2 months in) ‘Is baby sleeping through then?’. With a new business, you might get sick of hearing ‘So are you making lots of money then?’. You’ll grit your teeth and say ‘I’m getting there thanks’, and then run in the direction of the friend who understands how much work it can take before you reach that stage. Thankfully now that more of us are going the self-employed route, it’s easier to find this support – even if it’s a friend you’ve made on social media.
Teething troubles. When you’re finally feeling like you’ve got into the swing of things, then the teething troubles hit. You’ve got the website up, put advert in the right places and networked your butt off. So why aren’t people beating down your door? The marketing plan that seemed like pure genius doesn’t seem to be having the desired effect, and the self-doubt starts to creep in. When you hit that phase, it’s time to experiment until you find the particular remedy that suits your individual enterprise. As with teething , it can take a lot of trial and error!
First steps. When your fledgling business takes its first wobbly steps, you’ll feel ridiculously proud – whether it’s that first significant order or a fully booked course. You’ll know there’s still a long way to go before the business is completely off and running, but these first steps will be a big moment for you. It’s important that we celebrate and enjoy moments like these before we throw ourselves into pushing on to the next stage.
Being needed. Even as things become more established, your business never stops craving your undivided attention. Let’s say you’ve promised yourself you’ll do 10 minutes of yoga before bed. What do you find yourself doing instead? Spending an hour and a half updating and improving the website – again! One thing I’ve learned that helps me to juggle being a self-employed mummy is that giving short bursts of quality attention works better for me that trying to split my attention in half constantly. And accepting that some weeks my son gets the lion’s share of me, and some weeks I do need to get busy on the laptop while he’s busy destroying the bat cave.
So overall, your baby business is likely to need constant nurturing in order to thrive. Just as well that as mums we know how rewarding it can be to see our babies grow and develop! What’s been your biggest challenge or proudest moment? I’d love you to tweet me about them @sheilabayliss
About the Author
Sheila Bayliss is a qualified coach who helps her clients to reduce stress and build confidence. As a self-employed mum, she knows only too well that you can’t always control what happens – but believes you can learn to respond positively to life’s challenges. For tips, get the free app at http://www.lollipopcoaching.com/ – during February and March, you’ll find ‘Brave New World’, a collections of tips about taking the leap into self-employment. You can read more about Sheila’s story on the website, or get further resources by following @sheilabayliss on Twitter.
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