Photo by Scout London @scoutthecity
With both international women’s day and mother’s day having recently passed, the whole world seems to be ablaze with the talk of mumpreneurs who are smashing it on the regs. But the reality of the situation can sometimes mean a lot of late nights, dark circles under the eyes and tense moments. I’ve shared a few things that really helped me to get my head around the whole mumpreneur thing, from when my daughter was a baby to now (she’s 5 going on 15).
1. Get childcare
Let’s face it, there is no such thing as ‘juggling’ work and kids. You can do one or the other, and trust me if you’ve ever tried to do it at the same time, you’ll know what I’m saying. Having a kid throwing wet, soggy Weetabix at you while you try and work on your laptop is really not productive. It just takes up wayyyy too much brain power to try and concentrate on your TWO babies at the same time (your business and your actual kids). Having a solid childcare plan is absolutely key. When I first started as a mumpreneur, I think I had about 1-2 days per week childcare and the rest I was fitting in during nap times, evenings and weekends. At the beginning, it can be really difficult as childcare is expensive and your business might not be making you much money yet in order to cover it. That’s fine – start where you can. Even if it’s an afternoon a week to begin with. Do you have a friend where you could swap childcare? You look after their’s one day a week and they do the same back? Try and think outside the box if you can’t quite make the budget reach for paid childcare yet. Make a plan to scale up your childcare when you hit a certain amount of earning and stick to it. It can be really scary, as you’re often stretching to pay for childcare before you know you can really afford it, but trust me, you’ll get so much more done and you’ll be a happier mama for the kids when they come home!
2. Be realistic with your time
Let’s not beat around the bush, when you have kids it’s hard to hustle at the same time – unless they’re in childcare or school. So be realistic with the non-child time you have. If you try and force yourself to get work done when the kids are around, the likely end result is STRESS. A lot of it. And moody kids, which is a serious pain in the ass. I think the best thing that we can do as mumpreneurs is to be realistic about what’s achievable. Am I really gonna redesign my whole website in a day with my 3 yr old wandering around? No. That might realistically take 2 weeks of nap time work. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself by saying it should be done faster. And remember, you will actually need some down time too, so make sure you schedule at least one or two evenings a week to unwind, even if you’re grinding for the other 5 nights a week! Oh, and don’t forget to be nice to your partner! Just another thing on your never-ending pile of stuff to do…
3. Get a support network
Every mumpreneur I know has said the main thing that keeps them going is having that amazing support network of other mumpreneurs around. Working at home, during nap time and in evenings can be quite a lonely affair, so find ways to connect with others who are in the same boat. Instagram is amazing for this – reach out to fellow working mums in the DMs and arrange to meet for coffee. Groups like Mothers Meeting and Juxlo Mama are full of ass-kicking mumpreneurs who are willing to share and support. Me and my friend Milly (from Milly’s Kidchup) have a WhatsApp group where every day we just chat. A lot of the time we talk business, or our kids or partners (shhhh don’t tell) and it’s been an amazing tool for us to both feel like we have someone who just ‘gets it’. Let’s face it, sometimes our partners really don’t get what we’re going through as women, so it’s incredible to have the support of a fellow sister.
4. Find a partner who champions you (and also does the dishes)
On the subject of partners. Let me be quite brutal here… it’ll be very VERY hard to make it as a businesswoman if you have a partner who still expects you to wash, cook, clean and bath the kids all before he gets home from work. Every business person with kids, whether male or female, needs a partner who is super supportive and shares the home and childcare tasks equally. The best thing to read on this subject is a book by Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook called ‘Lean In’. She talks loads about how she and her husband would share childcare and house duties. Heartbreakingly, her husband passed away recently, but it seems like they had an amazing balance. I’m not at all saying Jason and I have it all figured out, but before he quit his job to join the business we would both take turns in doing bath time, putting our daughter to bed, doing drop-offs, arranging her bag for nursery etc. We both had our own work to do in the day but as soon as we were both in the house it was 50/50 – and still is. I know some women have husbands who work super long hours and stuff like that so I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s incredibly important to have that discussion. Your work time is as important as your partner’s. Plus, your business will be making millions in a few years time, so it’s worth it!
5. Have a game plan
Can I speak frankly here? I think a lot of women start businesses during maternity leave, without any real plan. It keeps your brain active and challenged (not knocking that at all) and it can provide some extra income on the side. Wicked. But often it doesn’t get thought about beyond that, and then the return from maternity leave starts looming and you’re suddenly like ‘shit, I’m not earning enough to make this work’ and then it’s bloody depressing, as you have to go back to work with a ‘failed’ business idea on the table. You need to have a game plan. I know a lifestyle business is fun and all, but we do really need to start thinking Business with a capital B. How are you making money? Is it enough of a profit? Do you have multiple streams of income? How will you get there? Don’t shy away from these questions. Get serious about your business and set these goals. Track what you’re making and spending. Speak to a business coach who can help you set some concrete plans for the next few months to get you where you want to, so you don’t need to go back to the day job. After all, the best part of being a mumpreneur is the fact that you can control your own work schedule. If you want to spend the day in the park with your kids and then hustle all evening once they’re in bed then that’s your right and no-one can tell you otherwise!
I hope this has given you some food for thought! Do you have any advice or tips that you can share in the comments below?