The life of a Mum-and-entrepreneur is unlike any other. Being a mum in business can be a juggling act and no successful entrepreneur can achieve this balance without setting rules around business and family time. Make sure you have a start and finish time and allocate time for all activities including business meetings and appointments as well as your children’s school or sporting activities. What gets planned gets done, is one of my mantras.
There is never going to be 100% success when you are running a family and an empire (even a mini empire) so the biggest lesson I learnt early on was that I needed to be OK with things not being OK at times. Once you allow yourself to let go of perfection, you will find yourself, and others, much happier with how things are.
You must have a thick skin. I have included this one for two reasons. Firstly, there will be those who try to undermine your success by playing the ‘neglected children’ card. My children have had more time with me since I have been in business but that’s not something I need to justify. Secondly, there will be some other business owners that might not take you seriously when they hear the term mum. I say OWN IT! It takes a special type of women to run a family and a business and an even more special one to create an empire.
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Remember, you are the driver of your bus and have the best opportunity to create the lifestyle you want for your family and yourself.
Making sure you are managing your life also includes communicating with those around you. Take 5 minutes every day to talk with your partner about your feelings, not just about life or the kids. In our family we call this our tea-time. Phones are left out of the room and computers are turned off. We sit facing each other and look at each other in the eyes.
We talk about anything other than our businesses. (There is plenty of time for that at other times) We talk about how we feel and what we would like from each other in our relationship each and every day. It is a great way to connect and an easy way to develop a safe place talk about your feelings – positive and negative.
Teach your children what you have learnt about business and why you are in business for yourself. Share your big ‘WHY’ with your children from a young age as they need to understand that you are part of a different world, the entrepreneurial world.
The more your children are spoken to openly and honestly the better the chance they will have of being great communicators themselves. Give them choices. Keep it simple and use the classic double bind, either this or this, will improve their decision-making. Encourage your children to ask as many questions as possible and communicate honestly with them. The imprint period for children is between 3 and 7 years of age so make those years as informative as possible.
Make sure you understand your strengths and weaknesses. Once we are clear on each other’s desires and wants assigning roles based on these is very important. In my family, I am the entrepreneurial one and my husband is the nurturer. Is it traditional? No. Does it work? Absolutely.
Until we understood this and stopped trying to change each other, things seemed unnatural and we both resented being forced into the traditional roles. Now that we are both having our number one values fulfilled, his being family and mine being business, we are continuing to go from strength and strength and our family and business is thriving.
Trying to change someone is the worst thing you can do. Accepting them for who they are rather than trying to make them something they aren’t will make for a lot happier relationship.
Finally, accept that you are going to be in the percentage of mums whose life is different from other mums. It takes a lot of sacrifices and strength to do the things that are required to build a true an empire while running a family, especially if your support network isn’t strong.
I was fortunate to have a supportive husband who loves his role in the family and business and is happy to take up some of the slack that I have decided to leave behind.
I made a decision almost 4 years ago that I didn’t want to settle for ordinary and play it safe. My empire has now enabled my husband to quit his job in 2012 and we have time abundance for all the things we love.
It wasn’t easy but it was sure worth it.
Natasa Denman is a skilled executive coach, author of four best-selling books, and founder of The Ultimate 48 Hour Author. Within her mentoring program she guides time-poor entrepreneurs and business owners through the publishing process so that they can have their own story in print. For more information visit www.ultimate48hourauthor.com.au, the first two people to email Natasa at firstname.lastname@example.org will also receive a free copy of her book.
This story originally appeared on Women’s Agenda.