When you fall pregnant and have children it’s natural to reassess your life and career. You pause from the busy-ness of everyday life and question what’s important to you and what you’re working so hard towards. Suddenly working late nights and weekends doesn’t seem feasible now that you have a family to look after. But at the same time, perhaps you want or need to bring in money to support your young family.
So what do you do?
For some, starting a business is an appealing prospect for a number of reasons: You can be your own boss. You can toss the blackberry once and for all. You can work as little or as much as you choose. You don’t have to answer to your boss or employer if you need to take time off for your kid’s sports day or class assembly.
If you’re contemplating starting a business whilst you’re expecting or already have a young family, here are 5 secrets that I’ve learned by starting a business with two kids under three.
1. Start with “why”
Most people will advise you to create a business plan if you want to start a business. Whilst you certainly need to do your due diligence, I recommend that you first start with yourself and why you want to go into business.
Unless you are clear on how your business is going to fit in with your own personal life and career goals, it’s going to be hard to be successful.
Action Step: Watch this TED Talk By Simon Sinek: Start With Why. How Great Leaders Inspire Action. It’ll help you understand your why.
2. Get clear on what value you are adding
In order to start your business (and subsequently charge your worth), it’s important to know how you are adding value to your client or customer.
You need to be able to articulate and communicate why someone should work with or buy from you. Starting with why you’re in business will help. As Simon Sinek says in his TED talk: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
Action Step: Write a list of all the ways you add value to your client/customer. Bonus points: Check out your competition and write down what you do differently. Keep this list front and centre when you go about your branding, offerings, copywriting, etc.
3. Go pro
If you’re going to start a business and make it a success, you’ve got to go pro and act like a professional. Even if you’re not looking to create the next Apple or Tory Burch, building any business takes time and effort. You’ve got to make a commitment to showing up every week in order to make your business a success.
If you’ve got a young family, this step is super critical. Get realistic on how much time you have to work on your business and commit to dedicating that time to your work. You don’t have to commit to 40 hours a week. It could be 15 or 20. Choose what’s going to work for you.
Action Step: Look at how you’re currently spending your time in a given week. Get realistic and ask how much time you can dedicate to your business. Then block out chunks of time in your calendar to build your business.
4. Build a support network
You don’t have to do this alone. In fact, you simply can’t. It’s important to hang your superwoman hat at the door and accept help. Starting a business and looking after a young family requires co-ordination and support. You will burn out if you try and do everything yourself.
Your time is important and you want to be utilising your time to focus on doing things that are important to you e.g. spending time with your kids, building your business and looking after your health and sanity.
Fortunately in Hong Kong we are blessed to have our helpers to assist with household duties and looking after our kids. Be grateful and utilise this support to build your business in a way that works for you.
Action Step: Ask yourself, “If I was going pro, what support would I need to achieve my goal?” Make a list of the support you need both personally and professionally. Then delegate!
Side Note: Remember what goes around, comes around. Think about how you can band together and provide support to others. I know there are a lot of mama business owners/working mums out there. It takes a village. Help each other.
5. Learn to say “no”
As women we are hardwired to help, support and nurture. For some of us it can be hard to say no and appear unsupportive. Remember: When you say yes to something you are also saying no to something else. Sometimes saying no is sometimes the best thing that you can do.
Action Step: Get clear on your top three fun priorities in a week e.g. playdates with your kids, date night with your husband and pilates class. Pencil these in your calendar and say no if there’s a schedule clash. It’s not easy but it is a muscle that you need to exercise.
So, let me know why you want to start a business and what’s the one thing that’s holding you back?
If you’re interested in building a meaningful career that you love, visit The Neon Life Society website here for more information and resources, including the free 2015 Bright Life and Career Planner.