Just last week, we had another event in our How She Did It series, this time co-hosted with Bloomsbury Beginnings. The topic was on being a mum and an entrepreneur at the same time. Two inspired women talked to an audience of around 30 at the Calthrope Project about how they balance their home lives and grow their businesses at the same time. They also gave advice to the other parents in the audience.
- The secret to success lies in time management
- Expect the unexpected
- You will naturally get more confident as your business grows
- Sometimes there are sacrifices that need to be made
MiaoMiao Yu, founder of Bach to Baby
Nadine Schofield, founder of Project Management on Demand
The Importance of Time Management
Entrepreneurs are busy people. Mums are busy people. By the logic, a mum entrepreneur (mumpreneur if you will) must then be a time wizard. So how do they do it?
The secret to success lies in managing time. There are only 24 hours in the day – our speakers gave some advice on how to best manage those hours and how to keep track of what’s going on during that time.
For some people, keeping time sheets might be the best option. Knowing how many hours you’re spending on your business in relation to what you’re getting out of it can be a good indicator of how efficiently you are working on your business. If you’re spending well over 9 hours a day managing and growing your business but not seeing the type of growth you want to see, it might be time to step back, evaluate and figure out what you could do to make your business more efficient. You want to keep track of what you’re getting out of your business.
Know that behind every successful woman, there are people that have helped her get to where she is now. Whether that person is a significant other or a wonderful nanny who has enough flexibility to cover time where you can’t watch your child due to an important client meeting, know that there are people who have your back. This doesn’t mean you should negate everything you’ve done to make your business what it is now.
It gets easier, our speakers said, when the children reach school-age. Them being in school for 8 hours means 8 hours of undivided attention you can give to growing your business. Remember to have balance, they added. Make time for your family, such as not working evenings or turning off email for the weekend. To balance out the time you carve out for your family, should you need to, take your work wherever you can and do work wherever you are.
The Good, the Bad, and the Unnecessary
Motherhood and entrepreneur-ship are similar in the sense of expecting the unexpected. You can prep and plan and read books and take classes but who really knows what is going to happen? Being an mum means you need to be ready for any strange thing your child might do, while being an entrepreneur means you have to be ready for what other people might do.
Some unexpected experiences our speakers had revolved around the service their businesses were providing. Project Management on Demand disrupts the market in that Nadine and her team sell the idea that companies don’t necessarily need a project manager full time for 3 months, when they really would only need one for a few days out of the week for the length of the project. There is the idea, Nadine talked about, where some people think that if you’re not present, then you’re not working. So in order to grow the business and gain new clients, you have to be bolder. You will naturally get more confident as your business gets older, and you are more sure of what you’re doing, but it can be difficult when just starting out.
Anything that’s a new idea takes a bit of convincing other people to buy into it. Sometimes people just accept the issues that they’re experiencing, and don’t necessarily realize it’s an issue until you point it out to them.
MiaoMiao talked about the amount of self-development and growth she has experienced since starting her own business. Now if something is put in front of her, and she can do it, she will want to do it. She is happier to be herself and she has grown stronger as a person.
Life as a Balancing Act
Sometimes there are sacrifices that need to be made. Life is a balancing act and there will be times where you will have to decide on making a choice in favor of your family or in favor of your business.
For example, Nadine brought up a situation where she has a client meeting, but due to her daughter being on vacation from school for a month, she’ll need to bring her daughter with her to the meeting. She communicated with the client about the issue, and the client was happy to go on with the meeting. MiaoMiao brought up the idea that you can’t do it all, and that it’s ok to make peace with that. You will be able to do some projects with your children, but you won’t be able to be there for all of them, so “stop being a perfectionist and hard on yourself.”
When it all comes down to it, MiaoMiao adamantly said, she would always choose her children and her marriage over her business. After all, with the experience gained from running her first business, she could always build another one.
Another area of sacrifice involves the times that you, as a mum, will want to work. Unfortunately, many corporations hosting events fail to take into account that people have lives outside of work, so will schedule networking events (very good ones!) on a Tuesday evening at 6pm. This means that you might not be able to make these events, or if you really want to go, you might need to go with a +1.
Being a mum and an entrepreneur does open up other types of flexibility. Choosing the hours you dedicate to your business is a dual-edged blade. One edge is the above mentioned time conflicts, while the other edge is the ability to be flexible with your clients and your employees. For example, one of MiaoMiao’s people only works 3 days a week, because that’s what works for her.
Some Pieces of Food for Thought
- No matter how cheesy it sounds, having a mission and a business plan can really help frame the concept of your business
- Give yourself hard deadlines
- Don’t underestimate your peers and their experiences. Everyone has different experiences and different strategies to tackle difficulties. We can always learn from each other
- Be proud that you’re a mum – you’re already your child’s hero