5 Things you need to do NOW to make your small business fit into your life as a stay at home mom
Mompreneurship is on fire right now. And for good reason. We live in a day and age where women are encouraged to be just as educated as their male peers and can begin to climb whatever corporate ladder they so desire. However, there are still many women who long to be stay at home moms. For me, it was always a dream of mine to be a mom. When I came up with the idea of becoming an auctioneer, I saw it as an opportunity to work for myself, set my own schedule and stay home with my kids while also having a career to call my own. And that's exactly what happened.
Creating a healthy work/life balance as a mompreneur does not come naturally. It is a strategic decision.
1. Decide what your priorities are and do not waver.
My number one priority is that when my kids are awake and home with me, they have my full attention. This does not have to be your priority, your work/life goal could look different. Maybe you have older kids and you home school so you work when they work or whatever, but for me, I want to slow down and be in the moment with my kids when they are awake. I don't answer my phone when they are awake (ever actually, but more on that in the next step), I don't respond to emails or write content when I could be engaged with them.
I will say that now that my kids are getting a wee bit older and more independent, that sometimes they like to play by themselves, so if they are playing in a safe environment (meaning, no where near the knife block in the kitchen or at the top of the staircase), I just explain to them that mommy is going to do some work and if they need me, they should holler. If they come up to me with some imaginary pancakes, I immediately stop what I am doing and eat them and ask for more. It is so important to me that my children know they are a priority to me.
What is the most important to you? Not just in your business, but in your life.
2. Set boundaries
You are in control of your time and business processes. This took me a long time to figure out. I am a people pleaser, so I would schedule meetings whenever worked for the client or emcee events as a part of my services (turns out I'm a crappy emcee but phenomenal auctioneer). Every time I would compromise, it just turned out icky. So, I set up some processes and even put them flat on my website.
I do not have my phone number listed on my website. A savvy individual could probably find it with some minimal google searching, but for the most part, people have to email me to connect with me. I let them know they will hear a response within 24 hours to schedule a call. Then, I schedule a call where I call them. I'm fiercely punctual so I prefer to be the one doing the calling otherwise people waste my time.
I set these boundaries and expectations from the beginning so my clients know what to expect. If they are not happy with my process, I am confident we will not be a good fit to work together. Have you ever heard the phrase that the people who take 80% of your time only give you 20% of your revenue? Well, I'd rather take the 20% cut to have all that extra time back.
What processes could you set up in your business that would give you more control over your time and other valuable resources?
3. Be okay with not being the busiest (aka highest paid) person in your field
This is a big one for me. I have a hard time not being the most popular person. I should be used to it by now because never has there been a time in my life when I was the popular person, but a girl can still wish.
I am a very gifted auctioneer, but I am not the TOP auctioneer in my area. Why? Because building a high-profile business takes time and skills and resources I just don't want to invest in. My competitors all conduct hundreds of auctions a year (which includes the ones their associates conduct) while I keep my maximum at 30 auctions a year. My business is very seasonal so I only work September-November and February-May, so any more than 30 auctions in that amount of time would wreck my family.
I also run my business only through repeat business, client referrals and simple google traffic. I don't have a sales associate (or myself) calling on all of the "big name" clients. Actually, I have one fee no matter how "big" my client is, so it doesn't matter to me if I am working with a well known national organization that has a mega celebrity as a headliner or if I'm working a fundraiser for a local school. The truth is that the latter is a lot more fun!
Review your priorities and your goals. As long as you are meeting those, you are a success. Remember that comparison is the thief of joy.
4. Learn to live on one budget
This is geared towards SAHMs who have a husband that works. If you are a single mom, obviously your budget is the money you have coming in. For you married SAHMs, we live in a two income world, or so they tell us. If you follow any finance blogs, you see story after story of families who cut their budgets to live on one income. It's called living below your means.
All of our day to day expenses are paid for exclusively by my husband's budget: mortgage, groceries, bills, phone, internet, utilities, etc.
Meaning if I were to stop working tomorrow, we would survive without much sacrifice. We do not rely on my budget, which is good, because I have some months where I make exactly zero dollars and other months that I bring in $10K-$15K. I save close to 50% of my income for taxes (I only need to save aprox 30% for taxes, but I'd rather have more money saved than not enough and end up with a *bonus* at the end), and the rest of my money is used for larger wants and needs: padding our emergency fund, saving for a car, vacations, extravagant date nights (guys, we went to Chicago for the weekend and saw Hamilton for a date recently...so yeah, extravagant), designer denim, and investing in ourselves (health and career stuff).
You can budget however you like, but I have found that by living on one income, it takes a lot of the pressure off of me to be desperate as I build my business. I can be pickier about what clients I take and I can charge what I'm worth and not worry about the clients who want to haggle down my rate.
Write a budget to fit in just your spouse's income to see that it is possible. Read finance blogs (see my favorites below) or listen to podcasts for inspiration!
5. Plan Ahead
Always be thinking about your life 5-10 years from now. The practices you start in your business today will impact what your life looks like down the road.
I started this business while I was in college and worked it as a side hustle along with crappy full-time jobs for many years so that when I was ready to have kids, the business worked into my life the way I wanted it to.
Now that my kids are 2 and 3, I am starting to think about what I want my business to look like (or what other businesses I want to start and grow) when they are in school and I get 7-8 glorious hours back to work (rather than working in random spurts throughout the day). Your life is always changing, but a lot of that change is stuff that you anticipate which is awesome because you can prepare for it.
Write down where you want to be in 5 years and break down what you need to get there. Basic goal setting stuff here. If you want to have a full-time business 5 years down the line, you need to start today by finding an idea or getting your first client so you can build up to working full-time for yourself.