According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, more than nine million businesses are owned by women. These businesses employ nearly eight million workers and generate $1.4 trillion in sales. What’s more, the number of women-owned businesses has increased by 59% since 1997.
As a “mompreneur”, professional success can easily come at the expense of personal and family lives.
Learning to create a delicate balance between home and work and establishing priorities does not happen overnight. I founded and operate two companies, and am a mother to two beautiful sons. Here’s what I’ve learned about mastering the balancing act to keep your business running smoothly.
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- Set “office hours”. Whether you’re a retail shop owner, a dog groomer or the founder of a tech startup, “office hours” can be very helpful in maintaining a smooth schedule. Meetings, phone calls and requests for your time can easily get out of control, leaving you wondering why you didn’t cross anything off of your to-do list. Create a pocket of one or two hours each day to accept meetings or spend time making phone calls. Clearly communicate these hours to coworkers and customers and try to stick with them. This maintains a sense of structure, which makes management of your schedule much easier for you – and for those with whom you work.
- Create a family-friendly workplace. If you’re an entrepreneur just starting your business, incorporate family friendly policies from the very beginning. Depending on your resources and location, consider onsite day care, flexible work schedules and generous insurance policies paid for by the company. This will not only help you with the balancing act, but will also help your employees – which will lead to long term loyalty, dedication and employee satisfaction. It also makes drop off and pick up much easier on all parties.
- Hire help. At work, consider an assistant or intern who can take on the monotonous tasks of scheduling meetings, arranging for deliveries or other items that don’t necessarily require your management. Freeing some of your time to focus on the more strategic business operations ensures that you’re making the most of your time at the office. Also, consider hiring help at home. Websites like Care.com, SitterCity and SimplyHired are great for finding temporary or longer term help for parents.
- Embrace technology. Depending on the type of business you own, you may rely on technology more or less than the average entrepreneur. The reality is that tech plays a major role in helping working parents save time, manage their to-do lists and accomplish great efficiency at work and home. For example, I’m a huge sticky note fan, but I also put my to-dos in Evernote, in the Notes app on my phone, or sometimes in Trello. Doing so allows me to easily share or assign tasks to others. I can create work and personal lists and see them all in one place, making it easier to determine my availability for meetings, school events, etc. I can also collaborate with my colleagues or family members, assign tasks and more. Even if you work in a home office, apps can save you valuable time and money on shipping, shopping and ordering, financial management and other tasks that arise. Technology is useful to anyone, but especially to working parents whose success relies on efficiency and process.
- Establish a support group. At the end of the day, everyone is busy. But small business owners who are also parents don’t have the luxury of burning the midnight oil every day. It is possible to run a business and a family simultaneously if you take advantage of help – whether human resources, technology or simply a supportive group of business owners like yourself. If you don’t know of any, consider starting one. Once a quarter, I used to meet with a group of women who also owned small businesses. We’d get together after work at someone’s office and simply have a light dinner while sharing advice and insights on what we’d been dealing with recently. Support is crucial. Sometimes it’s the only way to get through some of the more challenging days of running a small business. While business networking groups are good for business development, a smaller support group can allow you to be more open and honest about your challenges and receive quality advice.
The “balancing act” is about pivoting to life’s demands, both professionally and personally. Take some of my tips here to get started, and reach out to other working Moms. You’ll find you’re not alone – and that helps a great deal.
Christine Perkett is a senior marketing and PR consultant, and the founder and CEO of SeeDepth, a PR Analytics platform that makes measurement easy, meaningful and profitable for PR agencies and corporate communications teams. She has been named a “Top 100 Must Follow Marketing Mind” in Forbes, “A Top 100 Small Business Influencer” in the Small Business Influencer Awards and a “Top 50 Social Media Influencer on Twitter” by Cision.