Starting a business is a bit like having a baby. For the first few years, both can be all-encompassing jobs — wrought with late sleepless nights and weary, coffee-chugging mornings. Both can take a toll on you physically, mentally, and financially. And despite how much you love what you’ve created, there will be times when you question your sanity and wonder what exactly you’ve gotten yourself into.
But what if you have a small business… and a new baby? While daunting, it’s not impossible, as countless “parentrepreneurs” show us every day. Here, three share their tips for staying focused, sane, and finding success while raising their two babies.
As the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. But if you think about it, the same advice applies to running a business. Can you do it all by yourself? Possibly. But unless you want your mental and physical health to suffer — you should find some help where you can.
“I found out I was pregnant in January 2017, three months after I co-founded and launched Ollie,” writes Gabby Slome, founder of the homemade dog food and delivery company, Ollie. “Ironically, the pregnancy disrupted my life in the same way I’d hoped Ollie would disrupt the pet food industry.”
Having a baby so soon after launching a business meant Slome had to find some help with childcare — and not just for the baby’s sake, or her own. “I realized that finding the right childcare was the most important hire I could make not only for myself, but also for my company,” she explains. “Without someone I could trust, I could never fully focus on my job. Childcare is the work that makes all work possible.”
By hiring a childcare provider, Slome was more easily able to navigate her priorities and apply focus and bandwidth where it was needed. She could lean on her childcare provider at a time when her business needed a big focused push to get up and running. On top of that, it allowed her to take restful breaks when necessary. Something that she says has made her a better entrepreneur and manager.
“Once I found the right person, I forced myself to take a time-out and get some much-needed rest. I put Ollie (slightly) aside for a few weeks and allowed my team to run more independently,” she writes. “It was only then, after a couple of weeks and once I had a clear head, that I had the confidence to better manage life and business.”
While not everyone has the means for hired childcare, getting help is a must for entrepreneurs with kids. Leaning on friends and family for childcare, and empowering your employees and business partners on the business side means that you’ll have more time to step back, rest, recover, and clear your head. In the long run, that will benefit both endeavors.
As much as you love your business, being a parent is the most important job you have. And even if you think you can wear both hats day in and day out, taking a real break from entrepreneurship to focus solely on parenting can be extremely beneficial to all parties involved. It does, however, mean you’ll have to get the business prepared for your leave.
“I have been self-employed during the birth of two of my children and I’ve gone about it two different ways,” writes Michelle Briggs, founder of Basal Baby & Whole Modern Parent. “It was the difference between a happy postpartum experience and a really stressful one that sent me into the baby blues. When my second son was born in 2017, I thought very naively that I could just ‘slow down’ the business and wing it until he was eight weeks old. Let’s just say I could not.” By attempting to parent and run her business with equal effort, Briggs says that she missed out on some of the important baby-bonding that occurs within those first couple months. “It is a regret I will carry with me forever,” she writes.
So when it became apparent that baby number three was on the way, she was determined not to make the same mistake, and started preparing for maternity leave. “I found support, help with the business, and began working on front loading things at six months pregnant,” writes Briggs. “This looked like training my business partner on tasks she would take on for two months… talking to my business audience about what was happening and letting them know things might slow down and I worked double time in the first half of my third trimester to get as much front loaded as I could.”
By going all-in in preparation, Briggs was able to take real advantage of her maternity leave, confident that the business would be running smoothly without her. “During my maternity leave my team allowed me to pop in from time to time and my business partner held me accountable to taking REAL down time away from the business,” she writes. “It was the best. I enjoyed my last baby, we bonded, the business was totally fine and I felt ready to jump back in when I was ready.”
While 9 to 5’ers get to leave their work behind at the end of the day, entrepreneurs know that it can often feel impossible to truly separate your work from your life. Your business is your passion, which means every day can be a work day. When Jillian Trujillo, President of Lettering Express had her first baby, she was transitioning into a leadership role within her company and knew that it would be a precarious time to step away in earnest from her business responsibilities.
“I had no idea what to expect our new lives to look like but I knew that this tiny person would have to be included,” she writes. “We made the decision early that when I was ready to start working, the baby would come to work with me.”
Trujillo was able to combine mom-life with entrepreneur-life in a very direct way. “We set up a small area in our office with all of his things,” she writes. “This was pre-pandemic of course but our team really enjoyed having his baby energy around the office and would often help keep him entertained.”
Over time, Trujillo’s baby’s needs changed, and different considerations were taken. “This was a great plan until he hit about six months and needed more attention so we hired a part-time mother’s helper to watch him at the office. This was a huge help so we could focus on the business more while keeping him close!”
After a year, when the baby began walking and exploring, Trujillo decided it was time to employ full-time care outside of the office. However, she later repeated the baby-in-office process when she had her second child. None of this would have been possible without the flexibility and adaptability of a small business. “Running a business with tiny humans in your life is challenging and ever-changing,” writes Trujillo. “I think adaptability was important for us and recognizing where our limits were both professionally and personally to meet the goals that were important to us.”
A personalized point-of-sale (POS) system from Clover can do more than just process payments. It can help time-crunched business owners (and parents) automate tasks so you can spend more time with your family and less time at the office.
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