Finding a perfect balance between career and family can prove difficult.
While there are ongoing discussions about the benefits of flexitime in business, women have proved time and time again we really can do it all.
The key is finding out what works for you, just as I did when I started my own bookkeeping franchise nine years ago with five and seven year old daughters.
Small businesses have for a long time experimented with work life balance and we are seeing more and more working mums starting home-based businesses each year.
In fact, recent research from my franchise First Class Accounts shows small business owners place a greater emphasis on non-financial motivators for owning their own business.
Half said the ability to create a better work life balance and work flexibility was the most satisfying aspect of running a business.
I know, I left the public service for the flexibility of self-employment and I’m sure many mums who also run their own business will agree.
Operating a home-based business has a number of attractions for a busy, working mum.
It means not missing out on those preciously stressful morning moments of seeing the kids off to school.
Through self-employment I was able to co-ordinate working hours around these key responsibilities during the day and it made picking the kids up from school much easier.
Financially, working from home can also reduce hefty overheads such as a commercial lease, and increase work productivity.
I found myself doing a lot of work at night (and my husband brought me cheese and crackers to keep me going!). During those quiet hours at night, I found myself to be incredibly productive.
However, working from home can also be isolating.
For some people, low interaction with co-workers is hard to manage.
Naturally, home based work can also bring distractions for mums with children who aren’t yet school aged. Again, it’s about finding out what works for you.
My daughters are now 14 and 16 and we have a completely different schedule, but one that is still based on flexibility.
Another big challenge for business owners doubling as mums is keeping on track with running the business and monitoring and maintaining business health. It’s a critical area that can quickly fall by the wayside with plenty of distractions around the house.
As a mum, the level of growth or income you want from your home based business or the number of hours you want to work will fluctuate based on realistic expecations determined by your lifestyle demands.
The important thing is to keep focused and monitor these goals regularly.
Having worked with many businesses in my time, here are my tips for mums and anyone trying to run a small business from home:
Maintain an element of divide
From keeping all personal documents and business documents separate through to avoiding (too many) domestic duties during business or allocated work hours, it’s important to maintain an element of divide between personal and work life by treating your business like a business.
Naturally, with small children, there will be times when this is compromised.
Set weekly goals
Mums are generally good organisers, so use those skills to set weekly goals and objectives for your business that will help you keep focused and stay on track.
If these goals are continually missed, you will need to reassess your distractions and expectations with both your business and lifestyle.
Monitor business health
Regardless of the size of your business, establishing a business plan and budget and monitoring performance regularly are key to ensuring you’re operating a healthy and viable business.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Running a business as a mum is a big task, so don’t be afraid to get extra ‘at home’ help with caring for the kids.
Likewise, outsourcing a little financial work each fortnight or month may make a big difference in the long run.