Six months into launching Glamajama I was driving home from a playgroup with my nine month old son. I caught Dr. Laura on talk radio telling some frazzled work-at-home Mom that there was no way she could be both a full-time Mom and a successful Entrepreneur. Her argument was simple, one would suffer and all too often it’s the child. I was appalled. How could Dr. Laura make such a damning statement regarding Moms in Business? I kept thinking, just because one Mom might have failed, doesn’t mean other Moms can’t “do it all” with great success….
One year later, I realized how naïve I was. The reality is when you try to do everything right; you end up doing nothing right. So, is it possible to be both a full-time Mom and a successful Entrepreneur? Absolutely. The key is defining your personal work-life balance. In other words, defining how much of your life you want to devote to work and how much of your life you want to devote to living that life. The ideal balance will allow you to fulfill both your personal and professional goals of being a Mom and a CEO. It is important to take the time to define these goals. Without a written plan guiding your way, it’s easy to get distracted from the big picture. Once you define your balance, strive every day to live by it. I’ve put together some tips below to help you along as you search to define your own personal work-life balance.
Set Realistic Goals
As you sit down to develop your business plan, many of those goals will be based on a typical 40 hour workweek. As a mother with busy household, will you be able to work those hours? If not, be sure to adjust your business timelines and projections accordingly. What might take an average start-up CEO 2 years to accomplish, may take you 4 years as a full-time Mom. Being realistic about expectations for the company at the beginning will keep you from being disillusioned with slower than expected growth. Remember, being a Mom and CEO involves trade-offs. That just might include trading an aggressive 100% sales growth strategy for picnics at the park on Friday.
Be Honest with Yourself
What type of Mom are you? Are you happiest when shuffling kids to playgroups and baking brownies? Or would you rather work hard during the week and spend the weekends hitting the Zoo with the kids? Are you okay with traveling or want to stay close to home? Do you want to take care of the kids full-time or hire a nanny a couple days a week to make time for the business? Do you have family nearby or a supportive husband who can help out? There are no wrong answers to these questions. Just make sure that the business you are pursuing will allow you to be your ideal “Mom” and “CEO”. By addressing these potential conflicts early on, you can help limit the stress of juggling roles.
Focus on Time Management
For everyone’s sake, build a consistent routine for getting work done and for running the household. This will help you stay on track and will give the kids the stability they need. Write everything down in your day planner and use different colored pens for both work and home “to do’s”. Start each day with a plan. Set a time to make calls, check emails, place orders, call customers, work on marketing, plan PR, etc. You’re more likely to accomplish a task if you set a specific time and deadline to tackle it. Also, don’t forget to set time aside for your Mom to-do’s such as soccer practice, dr.’s appointments, and playgroups. These tasks are just as important, especially to your little one.
Efficiency is the key when you need to get a lot done in a short amount of time. Gain efficiency by keeping a tidy work station and invest in technology that can help you work smarter. Must have gadgets include a smart phone to help you access files and send emails on the fly, an all-in-one printer/fax/scanner for all your office needs, and a laptop with a mobile internet card. Try to organize your office by category, such as Marketing, Vendor, Customer Service, Sales, etc. This way you’ll always know where to file your paperwork and can find it with ease. You can even take it a step further and have the different categories color coded, Marketing (red folder), Vendor (green folder), etc. The more organization you can do the better, just don’t get too neurotic in the process!
This is probably one of the most important and hardest to accomplish. Start by creating physical boundaries to help train you to keep work and personal tasks separate. Your workspace shouldn’t be the dining table and you shouldn’t make sales calls at the soccer game. Trying to do both will leave you frustrated with all the distractions and your family feeling like they have to compete with your work. It’s hard on everyone. When you make a clear distinction to what hat you’re wearing, whether it is “Mom” or “CEO”, it’s easier to get into that mindset and be productive. It also helps the rest of the family know when to limit distractions and rally behind your efforts. A young business can easily engulf your time; having clear-cut boundaries at the beginning will help keep your family the priority.