In the past 2 year I have given birth twice, once to a baby and once to a business. After months of contemplation I finally made a decision: I am going to be a fulltime mum AND set up my own business! The willpower and energy were there, but also a huge portion of a lay(wo)man optimism. "Give me a couple of months and I'll get the business running!" I thought. "How hard could it be? Babies sleep a lot, don't they?" What did I know about breastfeeding, one-handed tasks, unsettled babies and exhaustion beyond comprehension?
My son was born in January 2012 and my antenatal business plan was to get both the parenting and business figured out by August 2012. Experienced mumpreneurs might be wondering—"what was she thinking?" I had no previous experience in business, no marketing degree and absolutely no idea yet of what being a mum would be like. Call it ignorance--I did on numerous occasions! It is now the beginning of 2014 and like my son I had to discover the world, but now as a business owner.
With every milestone my baby took, I had to take one too. The day my baby laughed for the first time, I could finally laugh at the unrealistic goals I had set myself. When my baby took his first wobbly steps I had my first paid 'Walk and Talk session' with a client. And while I was pulling my hair when realizing the enormity of my task, my toddler was just entering the terrible two's a year early by throwing his first real tantrums. Luckily by the time my baby was capable of entertaining himself, I felt I was finally able to sustain my business.
Setting up my business has been challenging, not least because I am also raising a child. But my son has always supported me (not with that many words). Whenever I was as disheartened as my baby looked the first time I handed him over at daycare, I just had to watch him learn how to walk, get up again, fall over, then get up once more. Over and over again. He taught me that sometimes the only way to learn and move forward is to be patient, trust the process and keep on trying. And I learned: "the more mistakes I make, the smarter I get."
He has also been the key to unfolding my business, as he made me realize I wanted to help other parents create a balance between their personal and family needs. And it led me to develop a special program for parents and bubs, called 'Nurture in Nature' as part of my life coaching in nature business.
As a struggling business-woman, I would like to give one piece of advice (ok, maybe two) to other brave parents starting a business.
• Firstly, be proud of anything you can achieve outside of being a parent, even if it is sending a short email. Because the rumours are true-- taking care of a baby is the hardest (most rewarding) job in the world.
• Secondly, trust in your own abilities and ideas, you are right! And yes, anything is possible!
• And I'll throw in a third one: be patient. What needs to come will come, but babies do tend to have their own agenda and having their parent's undivided attention is priceless. As an 8 year old once referred to focusing on a task: You should never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time.
So, what can help you to focus on your enormous task of being a business parent? Here are some tips that I have discovered during my own journey:
Create routine: As boring and as obvious as it sounds, not doing so makes it too easy to postpone work and do the (un)necessary
household chores. So make sure you get into a similar routine as you would when working for somebody else.
Set up a business space: Set up a real kid free business space. This way you ensure that you won't be distracted by all the dirty nappies and toys lingering around the house.
Make contact with other related businesses: It is very hard to have no one to bounce ideas of (besides the ooh's and aah's of partners and kids). So ensure you start networking and get in contact with related businesses. Believe me, they will feel the same way. Because yes, having a business from home can be very lonely if you don't watch it.
Be competent and confident: Make sure you have everything you need to set up the business, in terms of finances, insurance, tax, business names and certificates. You need to be competent and confident for your own benefit and your clients. You need to feel and show PRESTIGE! Trust in your own ability and creativity. Only then will you be truly successful. Because what you feel is what you reveal.
Monitor: Keep on monitoring how you and your business are doing, financially, physically (growth) and emotionally. Is the business going in the direction you want it to? Are you earning what you want and need? And do you still like what you are doing?
It is so easy to get stuck in a routine and keep doing the same thing, even if it is not bringing you happiness anymore. Doing this resembles Einstein's definition of insanity: 'Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.' Snap out of it and make sure you AND the business are healthy!My business has now become like a second child to me. It has needed nurturing and attention in its infancy but I hope one day I will be able to stand back, have faith and watch it grow into an adult! It doesn't matter when that will be, as long as my journey to get there is a pleasant one for me and my (growing) family. After all, in June 2014 the business will have to become my third child!
Let's end this story with a quote by a man, who must have really understood both kids and adults. "If you can dream it, you can do it." (Walt Disney)
Author: Eva Kokkelmans
Eva is a Mum and owner/operator of her own business InsightOutside Coaching. InsightOutside Coaching offers life coaching sessions in nature, including a 'Nuture in Nature' program aimed at helping Mums find balance between their personal and family needs.
For more information on InsightOutside Coaching visit the website: www.insightoutsidecoaching.com