Business Mum Mode
Being a Mum in business is certainly a lot of hard work. We already have a full-on job being a mum, then add into the mix the full-on role of running a business and you often find yourself wondering why in the hell am I doing this to myself!
Then I remember my why, and as hard as it is sometimes, I actually enjoy being a mum in business. Many of us mums-in-business end up asking ourselves the same questions during the course of the journey we’re on.
How will being a Mum-in-Business affect my family life?
For me personally, on the negative side it was space, time and financial. On the positive side was definitely time.
When I first started my business, it literally took over my living room. All my ingredients, equipment, files, packaging materials, paperwork and so forth took up a lot of space. When I was moving house, one of the criteria I had when looking, was that the property had to either have a room already there that I could use purely for the business, or the capacity to create an area as my work space.
In relation to time, being a business mum takes a lot of juggling, and trying to successfully keep a lot of balls in the air at the same time. My day is thrown back and forth from mum, to business, back to mum and then back to business. A typical work day for me consists of getting up and being mum doing the pack lunches and school run, then coming home to get on with my work day, before the afternoon school run and back to being mum again with dinner, homework, baths, washing and the like. Then once the boys are in bed, it’s back to business again. Being a Mother in Business takes a lot of planning of your time, especially in the school holidays, where it’s a lot harder, but it can be done successfully. The positive aspect in terms of time, is that I manage my own day and my time, so I can be as available to the boys as they require me to be.
Financially, I put a lot of my personal income into the business to get things going and still do from time to time. This then meant I had to make many sacrifices in my personal life, as I didn’t always have the funds to put into the business and also do certain things that I wanted to do in my personal life. There was a lot of money going out and not even half of what I was putting in was coming back into the business.
What is my favourite aspect of being a Mum-in-Business?
The freedom I have to work around my personal life. I can attend school sports days/concerts/assemblies etc without having to answer to anyone for time off. I can work around the school holidays, meaning I get to spend time with my boys and don’t have to struggle with looking for holiday clubs or some other childcare. The other aspect of my business that I enjoy the most is the networking and meeting new people at the events I attend. I love having a good time, and I’ve been very fortunate in that all the events I’ve attended so far, have had a really good and fun vibe to them. Often at times it does not even feel like work.
What sacrifices have I had to make to be a Mum-in-Business?
Financial security & time with my family are the biggest sacrifices I’ve made.
When you first start out, you plunge a lot of money into your business, and it’s not reflected by what you’re bringing in at the start. So that means a lot of your own personal money is used to develop and grow your business, but you still got your household bills to pay. That means overdrafts, minimal food shops, missed nights out, giving up my monthly eyelash & nail appointments. Basically living hand to mouth, but still protecting my boys from ever knowing how badly mummy is struggling, and making sure they don’t miss out on school trips activities, days out, and so forth. Not only do you put a hell-of-a lot of money into your business, but if you don’t have any other form of income, you’re pretty much running your household on a wing and prayer. That financial uncertainty is very daunting.
Your time again is a huge sacrifice that you make. Late nights and early mornings are to be expected, and they are frequent in the beginning. I basically became a recluse for the first year. I hardly went out. Family and friends complained that I never called anymore and when they called me I either never answered or never called back. Thankfully I have a very supportive network who have forgiven me and they are back to getting a bit of the old me back. I know take the whole of the summer and Christmas holidays completely off from the business, to spend time and have fun with my children, family and friends, so I think that softens the blow for the rest of the year.
What motivates you?
My faith in God & my support network! The biggest motivators though, are my two sons. My desire to create a better life for them is what fuels me the most. I want to set them the example that you can achieve whatever you put your mind to. I’m also highly motivated by those around me who are watching me, and using me as an inspiration / example of that a mum can start and run her own business from nothing, especially at a point in my life, where on paper I should have cracked. Knowing that I could possibly inspire one other woman to go & do her thing, gives me extreme motivation.
Who or what has been your greatest inspiration?
Other women in business, especially business mums inspire me. Every single other woman who runs her own business inspires me to do and be better. In terms of my personal inspirations, my parents also taught me growing up that I could be and do anything I put my mind to. I always remember my mum teaching me to set myself goals & work hard to achieve them. My parents are no longer here, but their words & inspiration continue to live in me.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
My biggest failures have come from the unrealistic expectations I have put on myself for the business. What I’ve learnt is to take things slow, and allow things to flow in their natural course, so as to build a solid foundation for whatever comes next.
What three pieces of advice would you give to Mothers who want to start a business?
1. Longevity – Your business is for life, not a few fleeting months. You have to remember that factor when things are not going the way you planned or the money is taking a long time to start coming in, or whatever else happens that makes you feel like quitting.
2. Don’t be hard on yourself – Starting / running a business is a major thing, much less whilst being a mum too. You are one person. Cut yourself some slack if you don’t complete all your tasks on any given day. In addition to that, you simply can’t please everyone all the time. As hard as it may be, don’t take it personal if someone does not like you product / service, it’s just not for them, but it is the perfect thing for someone else.
3. You’re constantly evolving – As your business grows, so will your thinking & plans. Your original plans for things may change completely, or have slight adjustments. Running a business is a constant learning experience, which will be filled with both failures and successes.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful Mother in Business?
1. Communication – You have to be able to communicate clearly and effectively with others, especially suppliers, clients and other businesses.
2. Adaptability – Things very rarely go exactly the way you plan them in business, so you have to be able to adapt to surroundings / circumstances, whilst maintaining a cool and calm head.
3. Mummy First – As hard as it is, you have to remember, you are a mummy first & your children need you. So work has to come second to children being sick from nursery/school, the school holidays. Spend weekends with your children. You have to find that balance between businesswoman and mummy.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
To be more relaxed, and able to delegate out a lot more. I’m doing all the groundwork now, so that later on, I can spend more time being a mother, whilst the business runs itself.
Being a mum in business is hard and tiring work, but it's also rewarding and I personally would not change it for anything else.