Can You Really Run A Successful Home-based Business Around Children?

Mother using telephone in living room with baby frowningTo look at me on the school run legging it up the road normally late, hair a mess, 4&5 year old trailing behind me, baby in arms, snowboots covered in mud from our last adventure you wouldn’t think I ran my own business.

I’m a mummy disorganised mess/small business guru.

I’m almost like Superman … I start out as the meek and mild Clark Kent – turning up at 10am to drop off the children’s forgotten lunch boxes before spinning around in the phonebox with my pants on the outside and – “tada!” I’m teaching 1:1 the benefits of using social media to promote your business.

So how do I do it?

Well a work life balance will mean something different to everyone and it make take a while to get a rhythm that works for you and your family. We are a well oiled machine now 4 years on … but we’ve had to adjust to adding school, after school clubs and a baby into the mix. It means we are regularly taking stock of what’s working and what isn’t.

Here are five tips that help me juggle 3 small children, a business schedule and a home!

1.  Don’t worry about what everyone else’s business is doing

Now we use social media to share EVERY detail of our business it can be easy to become disappointed when you see other people achieving their goals, especially when you still feel on the starting blocks.

But remember, you never know what someone’s personal circumstances maybe. They may have children at school full time, a team of staff, a husband/partner that works from home, a family that lives local etc. All these things will have an impact on time and efficiency.  If your business is progressing slowly due to your commitments to your children then so be it.

2.  Remind yourself why you run a business and juggle children

If I’m up late sewing or writing, I remind myself that I work for myself from home so that I can enjoy the time with my children. After all this time is precious and if a day at the beach means late night sewing so be it.

3.  Figure out holiday arrangements in advance

During the holidays it’s not always feasible to shut down.  Preparation is key so start compiling a list of activities/events/clubs so that you have one activity per day on your calendar.  This not only means you can plan working slots around quiet times but it also stops you from going crazy suddenly having a house full!

4.  Build your support network

I don’t just mean in a family sense (although you do need your family to support you). In my case it’s with childcare as my baby doesn’t yet go to nursery. In addition my other half also acts as my sounding board and kerbs some of my wild ideas!  You also need a small businesses network – friends and allies who will listen to you when you’re down, to help solve or just talk out issues. Your network will also help spread your message by recommending you to others while you in turn do the same.

The friends I have made in the small business world are some of the most important to my life and push me to succeed in areas I didn’t think possible.

5.  Remember to take time for you

Being a mum, wife and a small business owner doesn’t always leave time for Joanne.

This is when you will start to feel burn out. To tackle this you need to make time. Even the tiny things count like turning off laptops and phones an hour or so before you go to bed so you can have some down time.

In my experience running a business around a family is not impossible. It just takes a lot of planning, organisation, dermination and being able to go with the flow.  Children have a knack of throwing all the best laid plans in the air so you need to be able to be flexible both mentally and physically.

But despite all this, being a mumpreneur is a lot lot of fun!!

Today’s Micro Action

Are ymicro business actionou a women in business juggling kids & work? Do you describe yourself as a mumpreneur? What tips do you have for keeping that all important work-life balance whilst building a successful micro business? Please share in the comments below.

 

 

Joanne Dewberry

Joanne Dewberry is a multi-award winning small business owner, mummy of 3, and business blogger. She has produced a booklet – Blogging for Business on how you can develop an effective business blog for beginners.

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Comments

  1. Great article and one that made me feel a little more sane. It’s not just mums – dads to!

    I run my own business from home and my wife works a full three days a week. I look after our (just) one year old two mornings a week and one full day. It can be hard to put the business on the back-burner at times but I tell myself, ‘This is why you went it alone – to have quality time with the new family’.

    On the days I am Daddy Day Care, I juggle important emails on the go and cram in work at nap time (babies, not mine). And I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. Being a dadpreneur is the best, most rewarding (read – knackering) job that they don’t tell you about on careers day.
    Daniel Honey recently posted..Facebook unveils Graph SearchMy Profile

  2. Mumpreneur.. nice one! I’ve just started my blog a fews months ago while caring for our two young children (age 2 and 3).

    I find that it’s important to make a planning for the daytime windows of work. It is easy to waste a valuable 30 minutes while the children are playing by themselves with social media, surfing the internet and reading interesting articles. I work on my blog the most when the children are asleep at night, but I realised that I can make better use of the time I have during the day when I commit myself to doing certain things that make a difference that day for my business.

    I think it’s also important so savour the moments you have to yourself, even when they are short. And the moments of joy with the children. After all, they make it worth it 🙂
    Thanks for the post!
    Stephanie recently posted..How to eat healthier in 2013My Profile

    • You definitely need to have an organised list that you can tick things off when the children do have some independent play time otherwise like you say you end up wasting your “precious” time playing and not working.

      I really enjoy being a mum and am so happy for the business to grow slowly and organically as pretty soon I’ll be home alone 9-3 taking over the world 😉 Good luck with your new venture.
      Joanne recently posted..Can you comment please?My Profile

  3. I have a client who was running his business from the living room, with 2 children and his wife at home! I told him there is lots of support out there (hello Daniel and Rob!) for how to make it work. He may have a studio now as house prices in London aren’t going to be affordable anytime soon, but the principles remain.
    Rosie Slosek recently posted..Late payments: do Prompt Payment Codes work?My Profile

  4. Point 1 “Don’t worry about what everyone else’s business is doing” reminds me of a situation that I had to come to terms with when I was still a free-lance textile designer.
    At first I couldn’t work out how many of my (female) competitors survived and thrived with new cars, new clothes etc until I realised that they were designing as a profitable hobby and were being bank-rolled by parents of husbands with serious careers – bankers, barristers etc.
    Once I had worked this out I was quite proud that I could pay the mortgage and support myself without those advantages. So, Joanne is right, its all about perspective.

    • It is so easy to see the other start up around you making leaps and bounds and feel despondent … but your circumstances and life priorities will always be different. My youngest is 18months old and she is home all day everyday with me. When I do have meetings etc … my better half or my mother in law will care for her. She doesn’t go to nursery – which if she did would be extremely beneficial to my business – but I already have a 5&4year old at school and that seems like 5 minutes ago!! Be comfortable with your decisions and ignore everyone else 🙂
      Joanne recently posted..To podcast or not to podcast …My Profile

  5. Great article and I absolutely agree with finding time for yourself, I run for some ‘me time’. It might sound a little mad, but I have some great conversations with myself whilst running and I can sort out all kinds of problems, concerns and get some perspective whilst I’m on the move.
    Kassia Gardner recently posted..Practical ideas for email marketingMy Profile

    • You are so right! I sometimes have a bath or shower during the day when baby is asleep and the elder 2 are at school – the peace and quite allows your brain to settle and block out the world … I always have my best ideas in the shower!!
      Joanne recently posted..Facebook Tip #7 – PhotographsMy Profile

  6. I love, love, love this article! It could have been written for me! I have been running my virtual assistant business for two years now, but for a long time I felt as if I was playing at being in business and would be discovered at any moment, because I was also trying to be mummy and often feeling like a failure in both areas. Things are getting easier now – my 4 year old will be starting school this year (two children in school, yay!), but in the meantime, it’s a question of trying to get what I can done in the hours when she’s at nursery/playgroup, then catch up in the evening, and try not to worry about what everyone else is doing! I’ve also narrowed down my services to transcription and proofreading/editing, which can be done at any time of day really! The hols are a bit of a problem, but I’ve found that if I give the kids a timer and tell them I will give them my undivided attention when the timer goes off, that seems to work…

    • aww man best comment EVER!!! So glad you have enjoyed reading this 🙂
      Joanne recently posted..GravatarMy Profile

      • Aw, thank you! Just spent the last few hours juggling kids’ dinner, running child number one to cubs, dash to Tesco, back to put child number two to bed (hubby huffily agreed to put her in the bath – he had a hard day, he says, hmm!), then off to the playgroup committee meeting to take the minutes. Now a bit of work before I might manage to catch up on a bit of my huge Sky+ backlog before bed…..

  7. I work from home and left the corporate world to do so. I now work longer hours than before and spend more time with my children as some of the work time is flexible. I am also right on with me time, essential in my view so I make it happen! Lovely article.

  8. I so agree with this article! I am a full time mum of a two year old and six month old and also work as a freelance writer. I work whenever I can – a few emails before the children wake up, a couple of hours most afternoons when they nap and another couple of hours at night. Oh and a few hours most weekends too! It can be difficult fitting in ‘normal’ household jobs like ironing, cleaning and cooking but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I love both of my jobs (as mummy and as a writer) and on the odd occasion that I feel sorry for myself for having to work I night I remember that I get to spend every morning at playgroups spending precious time with my kids as well as getting to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with them most days, reading to them at bedtime and so on. All the everyday things that quite a lot of people miss out on because of their working hours. So I think that being ridiculously busy is a small price to pay for being fortunate enough to have two small children and progress (albeit in a different way to before) in my career at the same time.

  9. It’s so nice to hear that other people are going through the same thing as me! My children are now both at school but I still feel that I don’t get half the things done that I would like to and often feel that my business is suffering as a result. I’m still at the stage where I’m not actually making an income from my business so it can be soul destroying when I’ve worked so hard to juggle all ‘my hats’ but aren’t seeing any financial benefit! I’m passionate about what I do though and so want to make it work as it allows me the flexibility to always be their for my kids. I’m really going to try to bear in mind your comment that you must not judge yourself by what other people appear to be achieving. It’s hard though as I know that I am always my most harsh critic!

  10. Great to see a positive article on juggling working from home with the demands of children. I’m new to it myself, well – 9 months or so in – and have good days and bad days. I’m finding that it’s quite tough when I have deadlines, and as a web developer with a job that requires actual concentration I mostly have to wait until the kids are asleep to get anything done. Still, I’m saving money (childcare), spending more time with my kids and doing what I love so it’s all good! 🙂
    Jem recently posted..Work at Home Mums Key to Economic RecoveryMy Profile

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  1. […] my skills and knowledge with other small businesses – mainly as many of them were like me and working from home around a young family and it can be hard to get out to network. I only wrote my book […]

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