As an entrepreneurial mom, do you ever feel like you have to choose between keeping your business running smoothly and spending quality time with your kids? Our own data suggests business owner moms often face this dilemma. We recently carried out a survey of entrepreneurial moms and nearly eight in ten (77 percent) say they feel guilty about not being able to spend more time with their family and children.
Running a small business can feel like a 24/7 job, where customer service issues or large orders can come at a moment’s notice – and the ultimate responsibility lies with the owner. This weight of responsibility can lead to a heavy workload. Entrepreneurial moms who work on their businesses full-time have an average workload of 54 hours per week – a figure that can make work-life balance seem like a distant dream.
As a business owner with competing priorities it’s hard to segment your life into different chunks, but it’s certainly possible to organize your life so that your business and family responsibilities are in harmony. Striving for this can allow for more quality time with your children, while also reigniting your enthusiasm for your business.
Many of Vistaprint’s small business owner customers are moms, and while their tactics for achieving work-life harmony vary, there are some common tips they’ve shared with us:
Stop Feeling Guilty
It’s completely natural to feel guilty for not being able to spend as much time with your children as you’d like to. Even if your business allows you to work from home, it can be hard to spend quality time with them if you feel constantly distracted by emails, balance sheets, or customer comments on social media.
But this guilt tends to come from your own perception of how you’re managing your work and family responsibilities, rather than what other people, and especially your children, think. If you heard what your children say about their business owner mom, you may be pleasantly surprised.
To recognize entrepreneurial moms and everything they do, Vistaprint recently filmed a few moms with their kids talking about the reality of being a parent and business owner. The video sheds light on the work-life balance challenges these moms face, but also shows how much of an inspiration they are to their children and any aspiring entrepreneurs.
Our data supports this. Almost every business-owning mom polled (94 percent) said they believe running a business leaves a positive impression on their kids, teaching them important qualities such as work ethic, responsibility, leadership, commitment, and self-confidence. And nine in ten entrepreneurial moms (89 percent) also think they’re inspiring their children to be entrepreneurial themselves.
Never forget that you’re a role model to your children and you should be as proud of the contribution you make as they are. Being aware of this will help you drop the guilt and focus on spending quality time with them, even if you need to check your emails occasionally!
Harness Your Flexibility
Running a business can present unexpected challenges that throw your life out of balance. But the upside of being your own boss is that you can have more control over your schedule. In fact, having flexible working hours is the top reason for starting a business, according to the entrepreneurial moms we surveyed.
This could mean having the freedom to work on your business when it best suits you, rather than within the constraints of a 9-5 schedule. The flexibility of self-employment also allows you to work on the projects that you’re most passionate about, rather than necessarily striving for a full pipeline of work.
Taking advantage of this flexibility means you can spend time with your children when they’re available, and work around them, rather than feel like the two are in competition.
The key is to be adaptable, as there will always be moments when life requires you to spend more time on one or the other. But the lack of constraints imposed by office hours or management can at least make work-life harmony seem somewhat more attainable.
Involve Your Kids
It’s key to schedule quality time with your children where you aren’t thinking about work and instead, focusing on having fun, catching up, and enjoying new experiences. However, another way to address competition between business and family time is to help them better understand what you do and use your business as a learning experience.
As a small business owner, you wear many hats having to deal with everything from finance and sales to marketing and customer service. This gives you a brilliant business mind and skills that you can pass onto your children – whether it’s through helping them with homework or advising them on their education and career choices.
Your children are also likely to be interested in your work, and you can draw on their enthusiasm to help you make better business decisions. Through asking your children for social media advice, receiving feedback on designs, or getting inspiration for new products, they can help you to become a better business owner.
Being an entrepreneurial mom isn’t for the faint hearted, as you can see your business and family responsibilities quickly pile up. But by following these steps, you can achieve work-life harmony – strengthening the bond with your children and giving you a clear sense of purpose.