People often comment on the many similarities between starting a business and starting a family.
Having kids, you lovingly devote enormous amounts of energy, time and passion to their growth and wellbeing and the same can be said for starting a business.
With this in mind, starting a business at the SAME time as starting a family can be tricky.
At the time my husband and I launched Ivy College – an online education business offering flexible, nationally recognised qualifications – the impact on family life was an important consideration for us.
With two pre-school aged kids (and a third now on the way), we had to set realistic goals. No matter how hard you try, it’s simply not possible to ‘do it all’ and anyone who says you can is probably not telling the full truth. But with some careful planning, and inevitable sacrifices, it can be possible for both your family and new business to thrive together.
Here are a few things I’ve learnt along the way:
Believe in your vision
They say that if you love what you do, no job will ever feel like work.
There’s no denying it, starting your own business is hard work and requires infinite sources of energy and time. But, if you love your idea and truly believe that your business can make a difference, you’re in the best possible place to start forming a business plan to get your idea off the ground.
My kids are my #1 but staying in touch with my dreams has also been important for both my family and myself.
I want my kids to see me as a loving mother but I also wish to model a strong work ethic and would love them to see me succeed in the life I lead independent of them.
Find the right schedule for you
Time management is by far the most challenging part of setting up a new business. Coupled with managing meal times, bath times, play dates and pre-school pick-ups – it can often feel like there’s a constant deadline.
For me, the key has been flipping my schedule to work when the kids are asleep and being strict (only checking emails for ten minutes first thing in the morning). Of course, something has to give and this most often comes in the form of less sleep or less “down time” for you; but that’s part of the self-employment sacrifice.
Becoming a parent has also changed how I approach my time in the office.
I’m much more focused and tend to review my calendar the night before to make sure I get the most out my days.
Sometimes this includes delegating tasks or asking ahead for key agenda items from meetings to help prioritise my time.
- A guide to setting business goals for 2015
- Engaging your small business through social media
- Hayley’s top tips for small business beginners
Take advantage of the support around you
For me, this is definitely the hardest thing but I learnt pretty early on when starting the business the importance of accepting a helping hand.
Many of us try to do it all, and although we can just about manage, getting support is vital to avoid burnout both at work and home.
Practice what you preach
Our business provides flexible online courses designed to fit around our students’ busy lives.
We’re incredibly passionate about ‘flexible’ working and have made sure this ethos filters into every part of the business.
Every staff member has a laptop so they can work from home or even outside from our office patio space.
We’ve hired lots of other working parents who have been attracted to our flexible working ethos. It’s not uncommon to see kids popping into the office to say hi to everyone, before heading out for a lunch date with mum or dad.
Include your kids in your business
Kids and business can often seem like competing forces but a little mindful co-ordination can draw these two worlds closer together and help make your kids feel completely included.
If you’re picking out a company logo or colour scheme for a new website, ask for your kid’s opinion.
Or if you have younger kids, bring them into your work place at appropriate family friendly functions or find ways for their identity to be a part of the business.
Our business name was actually inspired by our second child’s middle name, ‘Ivy’. Of course, it helped that ivy.edu.au was also a great three letter domain name and the name itself has connotations of quality in education.