Soon after I gave birth to my son, I remember telling my friends I wanted to start a freelance business. They all raised a wry eyebrow. One was skeptical about how I would be able to work from home with a baby crawling around my apartment? Another suggested that applying for a 9-5 job would be an easier option. I disagreed.
For many parents, especially women, entrepreneurship provides an opportunity to challenge yourself professionally, and be available for your kids. According to Forbes, by 2018 over half of projected new small business jobs will be created by women.
So, it’s not surprising to see a massive groundswell of mompreneurs raising businesses and children. Entrepreneurship and parenthood are not polar opposites; as some might expect.
Raising children can be a powerful inspiration to start your own business. The skills in both roles are similar: planning, goal oriented, problem solving, organization, tenacity, and resilience. However, it’s still a juggling act that is easily met with conflicting priorities.
Remember, at the end of the day, you’re doing this for your kids as well. So, the question is: how can you reach an equilibrium of priority to minimize guilt and maximize your success.
Here are 6 ways to get started.
1. Let go of perfectionism
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Take setbacks in stride when they happen and celebrate small wins consistently. Tracey Moore, host of Canadian lifestyle show Cityline says, “Some days my job wins. Some days my kids win. As soon as I realized that this was my reality it became easier to deal with. It’s kind of liberating.”
A good friend, Evelyn Taylor, has a corporate job, kids, and runs the parenting blog Mommy Stroller. Evelyn notes that, “Balancing my job, family and my blog has been surprisingly fulfilling! None of these areas of my life are perfect, but there’s always something unique about challenging yourself and doing what others think is impossible.”
2. Don’t compromise family time
As a founder, you’re in charge of everything – 24/7. Proactive time management is essential. Set clear priorities. Many entrepreneurs complain there isn’t enough time in the day. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. Identify non-negotiable priorities (i.e. blocks of family time, self care, workflow, etc.) and stick to them. This requires discipline.
Sherry Colbourne, a 20-year veteran of the Canadian high-tech sector recalls: “I would wake up at 5 a.m. so I’d be in the right frame of mind to deal with my then teenage children. Morning conversation and breakfast provided the energy we needed for the day and a sit-down dinner provided the engagement we needed to stay connected.” Ironically, time constraints force you to find better and more efficient ways to live and work.
3. Create a life and business support system
A new business is like having a child. Ss the saying goes, it takes a village to raise one. Apply this same thinking to your business. It’s difficult to relinquish control, but no one builds a business empire alone.
Find help, hire interns or a virtual assistant, work with freelancers, outsource key operations and delegate tasks. Connect with the power of community. On a personal note, use platforms like Meetup to connect with like-minded parentpreneurs. Surround yourself with positive people. Your spouse or significant other and family can also play an important role. Let them support you if they can.
4. Leverage your stress
Health psychologist and TED speaker Kelly McGonigal suggests that we should make friends with our stress. She argues that stress is a sign our body is energized and prepared to meet a challenge. She encourages us to channel this energy into productivity rather than pain.
5. Involve your kids
If they are old enough, exposing your kids to your business and involving them can have surprising benefits. Children have a natural curiosity and desire to learn. Be transparent about what you do. It can inspire your kids and help them grow.
Natalie Angelillo, founder of SwopBoard.com, believes her hectic schedule has helped her children learn to be independent and self-reliant. Meanwhile, Annie Moore, a part of the team behind Adventure of the Day takes her kids along while she explores the great outdoors and shares what she learns from their experiences on the blog.
6. Trust yourself
There is no definitive guide to entrepreneurship or being a parent. Yes, the market is flooded with an abundance of “how-to” advice. Many of these tips are useful, but you need to take the tips that work best for you and blaze your own path.
One size does not fill all. Whatever you do, don’t compare yourself to others. Find a schedule that works for you, your business and family–then, go for it!
This article has been edited.