For many working Mums, the challenge is in finding a role that can fit around your family, your values and actually having a life of your own (yes, that’s still a thing!) If you’re working to someone else’s timeframe and trying to run around their goals and schedule, you’re always going to run into conflicts.
Starting a business can seem like a huge undertaking. Entrepreneurs have to be ready to go 24 hours a day and often get up early every morning to make it happen. It is hard work and it does mean long hours. You will be out the door early, you will be at the office (or home computer) late, and I don’t want to sugar coat that. But there’s a silver lining to it; it also means that you can sometimes create flexibility in your calendar to attend important events like you’re son’s assembly or your daughter’s presentation during the day. The truth is, there’s a lot of freedom in entrepreneurship. When you are building something of your own, and you have the ability to do it your way, you can create a business and a job that is designed for you. It is hard work but can give you the flexibility you need – if you let yourself! Here four ways to do it that have worked for me:
Build something that you’re passionate about
The best piece of advice I can give any other entrepreneur is to focus your energy on building a product you care about. That will make the tougher moments more worthwhile and give you the drive to keep going when you’re worn out from looking after the family and juggling their needs. If you build a business that deeply matters to you, the work itself will matter enough to keep getting it done.
Set your boundaries and respect them
The work/life balance isn’t always possible. Sometimes it’s just achieving the best you can in both worlds; but the boundaries are absolutely number one. Set aside time where you aren’t checking your emails in front of your kids. Set aside time where you won’t take phone calls from your customers. And that goes both ways – when you’re walking into a meeting, make sure you’ve got someone else looking after the school run – or have someone you can text at the last minute! Never under estimate the importance of the mum network. Many times I have made an emergency call to another mum asking for help, and they have been able to step up and support me. We help each other, it goes both ways, and it makes such a difference. But outside of that – do try and set those boundaries, and don’t let yourself disrespect or bend them too much, or it can become a habit!
Remember why you do what you do
If you’re an entrepreneur and a Mum, you’re not just doing this for a job. You’re also building an asset, with long term value that is going to pay off for your family. That can make a difference too. When you’re spending time at work, you want to be doing it for more than just a pay check – you want to be doing it for your future and for your kids’ future.
Don’t skip this: Work out your values early on
You’re values as a Mum are naturally strong. They’re about your kids, they’re about keeping them healthy and happy and together, and they’re always going to be about building a better world for them. If you design your own company’s values to align with what matters, you’ll be preventing conflict before it even happens.
As the co-founder and COO of Yabonza, a property management tech platform, I have had to learn some fast lessons about how to set my boundaries, balance my work and have the bandwidth to grow my family and my startup. But making them work together has been incredibly rewarding.
Entrepreneurship is often seen as a hustle and grind career path. But it can be an amazing option for women who want to build incredible careers on their own terms, without sacrificing their values or too much time with their family.
Written by Heidi Guenther, cofounder & COO Yabonza