Being disciplined with your time is one of the most important skills a momtrepreneur needs to master
The story appeared in the July 2018 edition of Entrepreneur
There’s no such thing as an easy path to entrepreneurship, and being a single mom makes that journey even more difficult. As a franchise business owner and single mother myself, I speak from experience when I say that maintaining a business while raising the ones I love most can be challenging. Yet, despite the challenges, my role as single momtrepreneur is one I wear with pride. When you’re surrounded by the two things that excite you most — your kids and your business — every day is a learning experience. So, if you too are a single mother looking to pursue your dreams as an entrepreneur, here are a few things I did that helped me get to where I am today.
Be transparent with your priorities
Being disciplined with your time is one of the most important skills a momtrepreneur needs to learn. Establishing a natural rhythm in alternating your attention among your children, clients and workforce will help you find your footing on the journey. Entrepreneurship by no means is a 9-to-5 job, but creating a list of priorities and a road map for your day will help you feel less overwhelmed.
It’s also important to recognize your limits. I used to be an overachiever working eight- to 12-hour days for six days a week, and although my business was growing and we were in one of our busiest seasons, I realized that I wasn’t giving the proper amount of attention to my kids. I needed to make a change.
To adjust, I learned to be transparent with my team about my need (and maybe their need too!) to balance time with my family; and I made sure they understood what times they could and couldn’t reach me.
For example, I encourage my team to text and email me any time the need arises, but unless it’s an emergency I may not be able to reply until regular business hours. While it took some time for the team members to adjust, everyone came to understand that life outside of a business is just as important as life inside.
Be crystal clear with your team and lay out some ground rules on when and how you can be reached outside of the office. At the beginning of every week, I bring my team together to identify goals and discuss how we plan to reach them. Creating this outline will help you manage your workload in the office, while also allowing you to plan your day-to-day obligations as a mom.
Don’t suffer alone
Momtrepreneurs need to understand that there are some instances when things are out of our hands. Trying to be perfect at juggling everything around you is the tempting thing to do, but it takes a certain level of bravery to be vulnerable and to ask for help when help is needed. Whether it’s seeking out assistance from the team you’ve built firsthand or seeking out guidance from your family, understand that it’s the recovery that’s more important than the fall. How you bounce back will shape how you charge ahead further down the road.
One great way to find help is to form a network of mothers in your neighborhood. Early on as a parent, I organized a playgroup of more than 30 families, allowing us to get together on a regular basis to socialize and discuss the challenges we faced. Any kind of network, whether a book club or sports group, is a great way to get people together, so find a way to better connect yourself with those around you.
Use online resources, as well. Whether you turn to a site like Meetup.com, which helps you find others with similar interests and hobbies, or an app like 2Houses, which helps keep track of your children’s schedules, or to a meditation tool like Stop Breathe & Think, find — and use — the tools that can assist with your work and personal life.
Team up with your kids
Children are very inquisitive, and one of the duties of a parent is to foster that curiosity. As a momtrepreneur, I’ve realized that one of the best places to nurture my children is right there in my office. They don’t understand every intricacy of my travel business, but showing them around and even letting them “work” is a great way for me to spend time with my kids while getting things done.
Giving my children assignments in the office is more than simple delegation. My kids sometimes sweep up and keep things tidy, put stamps on envelopes or shred papers that I no longer need. I also take them to community events.
Children can be great ambassadors to a brand. I ask them to help with direct marketing at events and to greet potential customers. And all of these activities allow me to harness my children’s curiosity, giving them a leg up on life while also showing them the working world.
Celebrate every victory
I used to think that my life would be defined by a few key moments, but I’m learning every day that it’s the little moments with both my kids and my team that I cherish.
Yes, birthdays, graduations and record sales deserve their own celebrations, but I have begun to appreciate and prefer the small moments of human connection, too. Reading a book to my kids before they fall asleep or helping a family find a cruise destination that’s perfect for them brings me an immense sense of joy and satisfaction. Moments like these are the ones that make my work as a momtrepreneur meaningful, and keep me motivated to continue on this journey.
Running a business while raising a family is definitely a challenge, but it’s one I look forward to taking every day. I know that every day is an opportunity to become a better person, both as a successful entrepreneur and a loving mother.
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