It’s hard work being a small business owner. It’s hard work being a parent, a new parent especially. Combine the two – being a new parent and business owner – and you’ve got yourself a challenge.
When I was pregnant, I worried I wouldn’t want to work in my business once my baby was born. I worried I’d be too tired, too wrapped up in the baby, too consumed with diapers and feedings to care about my first big creation – my business.
But then Baby Girl arrived and I was relieved to find I still cared about my work and I still wanted to work. And a new fear came in. The fear of not being able to do both – to be a good mom and run a successful business.
But here is what I’ve learned – when your heart wants it badly enough, you can figure anything out. It might not be easy, but you can absolutely do it.
And let’s be honest, being a business owner is never really easy and is always about sacrifice, so if anyone can figure this out it’s us.
As a new parent, I craved the perspective of other new parent business owners, but found it a little hard to come by. So I’m out to fill the void, hopefully providing some perspective and at the very least reassuring you that it’s not impossible to want – and do – both.
Here are the key things I’ve learned about navigating being a new parent and business owner.
Embrace the slow – it won’t last for long
Where are my productivity people at? 🙋♀️
I’m a productivity addict. I thrive off of being productive. Slow is not an adjective I’m very familiar with. I don’t walk slow. I don’t eat slow. And when it came to my business, I always felt like if I slowed down I’d lose momentum.
But when I first welcomed my baby, I had to get comfortable with slowing down a little bit. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a struggle. Operating at one speed for years meant that any adjustment was going to be a shock to my system.
But the truth of it is the slow, lazy, newborn days only last for a little while and once they’re gone, they’re gone for good.
Your business will still be there when you’re ready to jump back into it. Your to do list? It isn’t going anywhere.
When you do return to work, your days will fly by. So don’t rush the slow days. Be present in them and try to enjoy them while you can.
Give yourself plenty of time, care, and grace
After I had my daughter I was reminded not for the first time that it is a blessing and a curse to be a business owner. It’s a blessing in that I can take time off when I want it and take as much of it as I need.
But it’s a curse in that If I’m not working in my business no one is. No money is coming in, no products or services are being delivered. If I press pause the whole operation comes to a grinding halt.
I don’t know about you, but that was terrifying for me. I worried that everything I’d worked so hard to build would just collapse like a house of cards.
So I put a lot of unfair expectations on myself to get back to work quickly and return things to normal for my clients.
As a new parent and business owner, especially as a new mom, I felt this enormous pressure to show everyone that things hadn’t changed. That I was still a dedicated business owner, that I was just as focused and strategic and available and responsive as I’d always been. In a weird way, it was a source of pride for me.
But I’ll be honest with you. When I first returned, nothing was normal. Mainly because I was trying to return things to the way they were pre-baby, not readjust them to the new reality post-baby.
Who I am as business owner hadn’t changed. But how I managed my business and operated in it needed to be more fluid and adapt.
Give yourself the grace of knowing that you will figure it out. Remember all that you’ve figured out before (I mean, business taxes are certainly no cakewalk, right?) and trust yourself enough to know that you will figure this out too. Then give yourself the time to do so and make sure you’re taking care of yourself in the process.
Don’t focus on what was, focus on creating what will be
Becoming a parent is a huge life change. And with huge life changes sometimes comes this yearning for the way life used to be. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a natural response to your life doing a 180.
I missed just being able to go into my office and work whenever I wanted to. I missed all the energy I had to devote to my business.
To be clear, I love my daughter to pieces and am so insanely grateful that I get to be her mama. But my identity had evolved a little bit and with that came an occasional yearning for my old identity.
There’s a quote from Socrates that I found when I was pregnant and I started to refer to it everyday:
The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.
The one reliable thing about life is that it’s constantly changing. Trying to fight the change is futile and frustrating. Personally, it made me feel out of control of my own life.
Once I started focusing on creating a new normal and new routine, I gradually started feeling more empowered and a little more in control. As in control as you can be with a newborn anyway.
Put your energy into building your new routine and celebrate the little wins and milestones you hit each day. Things will start to feel more attainable.
Let your new identity as a parent complement your identity as a business owner
It might not feel like it at 4 am when you’re struggling with the tabs on a diaper while your offspring makes maximum use of their tiny lungs on the changing table below you. But you have become a new and improved version of yourself.
You might feel less productive in your business, more tired, less creative, but you have grown in so many ways literally overnight.
Parenthood requires perfecting a unique skillset, one that can serve you well in your business.
You learn how to juggle and juggle efficiently. You become a pro at managing your time and prioritizing. Your problem-solving skills get a boost.
You develop a newfound perspective and empathy, but you also put up with less crap.
You develop a different kind of strength and confidence because you have a new human being you’re building a life for.
It might not feel like it, but all of these things will eventually make you a better business owner.
Get smarter with your time
When I was pregnant, it drove me nuts when people intoned, “Your life is about to change forever!” or “Your time won’t be yours anymore” and the worst was when they asked, “So what are you going to do with your business?” As if keeping my business as a mom wasn’t even an option.
I knew, even amidst my annoyance, that people meant well. But the insinuation that I would no longer have a life or a business once my child was born was demoralizing and unhelpful.
If this is something you’ve dealt with as well, let me clear up some things for you.
Yes, it’s true your life will change. It’s true you’ll be sharing your time with a tiny human. And it’s true you’ll need to make some decisions about your business.
But your life is still your life, your time is still your time, and your business is still your business.
As a new parent and business owner, you might need to get a little more creative and efficient with how you manage those things. But you can do it.
These are the tips I’ve found to be most helpful in my own work.
Done is better than perfect
There are certain places where perfectionism is important. If you build jetliners, for instance, or launch rockets for NASA.
What’s not important? Capturing every spelling mistake in your blog post or making sure everything in your social media graphic is perfectly centered and aligned.
What matters most is that you get it out there.
Let go of your perfectionism. You’ll get things done twice as fast.
Outsource non-essential work
Marie Kondo your work. If it’s not something you enjoy doing or if it’s something you’re just not that good at it, find someone else to do it.
Instead of spending hours of valuable time trying to figure out how to build a website, consider investing in a web designer. It’ll cost money, but in the end it’ll save you loads of time and stress and it’ll be more effective than trying to do it yourself.
Instead of finding an hour here or ten minutes there to develop new content and create marketing campaigns, lean into the knowledge and expertise of someone whose sole focus is using marketing to grow your business.
This allows you to invest your valuable time on the things you love and the things that only you can do best.
Review your rates
Are you charging enough for your products and services? Maybe your rates made sense back when you had all the time in the world to do things. But now that there are more constraints on your time, it’s more valuable. Make sure your rates reflect that.
Find ways to automate or simplify recurring tasks. These are tasks that typically eat up the most time, but they’re also the most repetitive. If you can identify ways to templatize them or automate them, you’ll free up both your time and your brain for more productive and creative work.
Get comfortable saying no
You won’t have as much time as you did before. So be more selfish with the time you do have. Turn down any opportunities that don’t speak to you or further the vision you have for your business.
You owe it to yourself and your kid to go after your dreams
Occasionally as I navigate the murky waters of business owner and new mom, I get wracked with this overwhelming sense of guilt. The time I spend in my business is less time I get to spend with my kid, and I wonder if I’m being selfish for making that trade off.
But I try to think about what I would tell my daughter if thirty years from now she were to come to me with a similar dilemma.
I would tell her that she owes it to herself and her child to pursue her dreams. That it’ll make her a better, stronger, happier mama. That it’ll set the best example of what it means to be brave, work hard, and go after what it is you want.
Life is about trade offs. Some parents might opt to forego the business to spend more time with their kids. If that’s the trade off that fulfills them, that’s 100% okay. But it’s also 100% okay to trade off time with your kids for your business if that’s what fulfills you.
You might be giving them a little less of your time now, but the long term pay out can be just as valuable.
Take it from a kid who grew up in a small business household. I doubt I would’ve had the spirit, faith, and tenacity to start my own business if I hadn’t watched my parents do the same and do so successfully. They taught me dreams were truly attainable, if you were willing to work hard for them.
It was quite possibly the most valuable lesson I took from my childhood, and I hope someday my daughter will say the same.
Allow this phase to teach you
I learned a lot about myself and about life when I became a mom. The lessons weren’t without some tears and growing pains and long, honest discussions with my husband.
But like most challenges in life, when you look back, you realize how much they shaped you and morphed you as a person, often for the better.
Its okay to take a break. You’re not throwing in the towel, you’re just taking time to recharge.
There is no right or wrong way to do things. Not everything is black and white in parenting or in running a business. Figure out what works best for you and do that. Take everyone else’s unsolicited opinions and advice for what it’s worth. But ultimately trust your own instincts.
You are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for. You are capable of doing more with less time, you are capable of running on less sleep, you are capable of raising a tiny human. And you are capable of running your business. Don’t sell yourself short.
Rough patches are part of life. But they’re temporary. No matter how bad something is going, eventually your fortune will change if you stick it out.
Ask for what it is you want. Wishing for things won’t make them reality. If you want something or need something, have the courage and self-respect to ask for it and advocate for it, if need be.
Are you a new parent and business owner? How have you navigated the change in your business? Let us know in the comments!