Should I tell my clients I’m having a baby and might need to have a break from the business?

This article first appeared on March 11th, 2011.

Hi Aunty B,

I own and solely manage a freelance event planning business in the wedding industry. I started slowly to test the waters, and now 18 months later (wedding season is spring/summer each year), the business has grown a little more, relying largely on word-of-mouth and social media for advertising.

It is a personal, one-to-couple service that requires my creative input, personal attention/time and labour (light to heavy) before and on their wedding day.

From a business perspective, I’m feeling more confident that I can do much more, whether it’s ramping up advertising, getting serious about recruiting casual assistants, looking for a business partner or lease a modest office to receive/meet clients (I’m currently home-based).

From a personal perspective, I’m also ready to start a family with my husband. If we are lucky (and of course these things are out of our control), we could be parents by January-February 2012.

I’m already receiving enquiries for weddings next season (October-March 2012). Do I say anything to these couples, if at all? After all, it’s a private matter. I’m also worried, however, if I didn’t, they may feel let down should I mid-way, hand over the wedding to another company or to an assistant.

By the way, I’ve only casually employed help for on-the-day tasks. They are not involved in creative work nor meet the client, and usually not experienced in event planning/organisation. I am the face of my business, and couples are entitled to expect that I’m managing their wedding.

Unlike an office job (sorry to generalise), this business is a combination of deskwork and operations/labour, and I highly doubt some of the manual labour I’m doing now can or should be done when I’m pregnant.

What should I do, Aunty B, and how do I fit my business in with my personal choices? Appreciate your input.

Kind regards,
Mum-in-Waiting Entrepreneur

 

Dear Mum-in-Waiting Entrepreneur,

Are you nuts? You are only going to have a baby, not move to another planet – although once you give birth you won’t be able to tell the difference. Of course you are not going to tell your clients you might have a baby!

What you are going to do is this: Find another fantastic woman. The world is full of them! Put her on a salary a few days a week and pay her a commission for new clients she brings in. Then when you do become pregnant, talk to her about coming on as a business partner.

And of course you can keep managing weddings. Apart from sore bits, a baby, a needy husband, a messy house and a desire to weep every five minutes, you can manage to keep your clients and keep them happy if you have another pair of brains and hands you can rely on.

Oh and don’t even think about an office at this stage. If you need to meet people in a swanky office, use a serviced office or groovy cafe. Or better still, visit them in their house so you can get to know them better.

Whatever you do, don’t stop that business. It sounds terrific and fun and will stop you going loopy when the baby is born.

Be smart,
Your Aunty B

To read more Aunty B advice, click here.

Email your questions, problems and issues to auntyb@smartcompany.com.au right now!

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