I started my business when I was 4 months pregnant with my 4th child.
When I tell people that, I get the look — the look of disbelief, the look that I must be crazy.
How am I managing it all?
First, I clearly defined my priorities: my first job is being a mom. My second job is running my business.
Then, I took some key lessons I learned as a mom of four and applied it to running my company.
1. It’s the little wins that make the difference
As a mom, I do not receive the affirmations I did when I was working in the corporate world. I thrived on promotions and compliments from my peers and managers. Those affirmations defined my success at my job.
However, as a mompreneur and a solopreneur, the success path is not quite as clear. The small, sweet gestures like my 18-month old giving me that 3-second hug, my daughter making paper heart crafts for me or my 9-year old wanting to hold my hand walking to school are now my wins as a mom.
As a solopreneur, sometimes the lows are greater than the highs. If you wait for some big win, you will certainly be disappointed and lose confidence in your business.
I need to look at each small win, a thank you from a customer or a partnering organization, the joy from a child in my program, or even the pride my children have talking about my business – these are my wins for my business. Focusing on each small win becomes the big win that keeps me in the right mindset to be successful.
2. Quality, not quantity, is what matters
As a mom of four, my house is never quiet. I am surprised when I don’t have four kids pulling me in four different directions.
However, what I found was that my kids just want quality, focused time with me. Taking them to park for an hour while I sit on the bench responding to work emails on my phone is not quality time.
Spending 15 minutes kicking the soccer ball or playing Chutes and Ladders is what my kids want – undivided attention from me.
As a solopreneur, I’m stretched between all the different roles needed to run a business: administrative, marketing, operations, and development. I learned that it doesn’t matter if I set aside 3 hours every morning to “work”. If I don’t have a clear plan and don’t focus on what I need to accomplish, it is time wasted.
I would rather sit down for 45 minutes and finish planning my social media content for the week than spend 3 hours starting 5 different things on my ‘to-do’ list and not finishing a thing.
3. Patience, patience … patience
Boy, I thought I was a very patient person before having children. Having kids defines a whole new level of patience. “Mom can you get me some milk!” “Mom where is my backpack!” “Mom what do I have today!”
I can’t be upset that children want things immediately. That is inherent for them until they learn the art of patience. And how do they learn? They watch the adults in their lives, especially those with whom they spend the most time.
As entrepreneurs we often think, “I have a great business idea!” I think everyone believes that about their business. So why isn’t it bursting at the seams? Well, it takes patience.
Too often, we read the stories that tell how someone launched a business and within three months, they were making more money than they did at their full-time job. Those stories are amazing, but they are not the norm.
Starting a business takes time, thoughtful planning, and most of all, patience. I’m still in the midst of trying to figure out how to grow my business, and it has definitely taken me much longer than expected, but each day, I am making progress.
4. Talking is still the best form of communication
My kids are still too young for cell phones. They are learning about texting, but enjoy using emojis instead of actually texting from my phone. Our only form of communication is talking. With the incredible advances in technology, a business can be run essentially without having to actually speak to a ‘live’ person.
From text messages to emails, pre-recorded webinars to Facebook Live, you can easily forget about the most important form of communication: talking.
When a person speaks, you not only hear the words, but also the emotions and non-verbal cues that are associated. When communicating through email or text, these cues can easily be missed.
I certainly have some nuances when I want to convey a message that cannot be relayed over email. This quickly resulted in miscommunication between the recipient and myself. I have had my fair share of this, so lately, I have preferred picking up the phone or meeting with someone in person to communicating over email or text.
5. Don’t forget to say ‘thank you’
The phrase “Thank you” are two simple words that make a world of difference. My children love to help, and often times I don’t tell them how grateful I am that they want to help me out.
In our busy lives, I sometimes see their desire to help (i.e. folding laundry) as additional work for myself. So one day, my kids told my husband, “We don’t want to help mom with laundry, because she refolds it.” That was not a good parenting moment for me. I need to embrace the situation and be grateful for my kids for wanting to help.
As an entrepreneur, or in any business, being thankful to people who surround you is a key to success. Nobody wants to work for someone if they feel unappreciated. Even if it is for something small, don’t forget to say “thank you!”
I am still in the early stages of my business and I am still learning so much as a parent. However, these five simple lessons have helped me build a solid foundation to grow in both areas. I would love to hear from you to see if you have any good tips from parenthood that has been helpful in business.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Sitinee Sheffert is a wife, mom of four, and a social entrepreneur. She is the founder of Giving Artfully Kids, a curriculum teaching children the importance of kindness and giving through crafting and Giving Artfully, a platform connecting crafters and organizations needing handcrafted items. Connect with @givingartfully on Twitter.
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