The US Census suggests that over 4 million new businesses launch every year. The vast majority of start-ups are small-scale ventures with a single owner or a small management team. For parents, setting up a business can offer significant benefits, including more flexibility and control over salary and pay, but it’s difficult to juggle parenting with running a company. In this informative guide, we’ll outline some effective ways to find a healthy balance that enables parents who are aspiring entrepreneurs to excel in both roles.
The benefits of running your own business
There are pros and cons to traditional employment and running your own business. One of the main advantages of establishing your own business for parents is having control of your schedule. If you’re the boss, you can control your hours and enjoy more freedom when it comes to making plans to spend time with your family. In addition, setting up a company enables you to dictate how much you get paid and in the long term, it can be lucrative to make the switch. If you choose to exercise your entrepreneurial skills and flair, there’s also an opportunity to pursue passions and interests that may have fallen by the wayside in your previous job.
Another key benefit of being an entrepreneur is having the option to scale your business. Many parents, particularly moms who launch ventures when their kids are young, start small and grow the company as their children get older and spend more time away from home. If you’re in charge, you can decide how much time and energy to devote to the cause and scale up or down in line with your requirements and preferences and the expected growth in product sales or service provision. Many budding entrepreneurs test the waters with a side hustle, which then expands into a business.
Key challenges of running a business as a parent
There are multiple advantages to being a business owner as a parent, but there are also significant challenges. For most people, the most difficult aspect is finding time. There are only 24 hours in a day. It can often feel like you’re up against the clock constantly when you’re raising kids and trying to meet clients, respond to customers, process orders, update the accounts and deal with suppliers, employees or partners. Although being the boss gives you flexibility in terms of how you spend your time, running a business and being a parent can both feel like full-time roles.
Gaining financial security can also be a challenge for parents, especially those who are in the early days of their entrepreneurial journey. If you have a stable job, your employer will pay you every week or month. You know how much you’re going to earn each month and you can budget accordingly. If you establish a new business, your earnings may be much more unpredictable and it can take a long time to generate profits and reach a point where you can start taking money out of the company as a wage.
For some business owners, it can also be difficult to maintain high levels of motivation when times get tough or days are long and exhausting. There may be times when you question whether you’ve made the right decision or you think about throwing in the towel. Setting up a business that you are passionate about is crucial to reduce the risk of losing interest and maximizing the chances of enjoying the new role.
Tips for juggling parenting and running a business
There is no doubt that bringing up children and running a business simultaneously is difficult. The good news is that there are ways to juggle both balls effectively and find a healthy balance. Here are some tips and tricks:
Manage your schedule
Time management is critical for parents and business owners. Managing your schedule is a golden rule that shouldn’t be ignored. Schedule time for client meetings, work-related tasks and activities and administration and accounting and block out time for your family. Establish a routine that is tailored to your needs. You may find that you work around the times your kids are at school, for example, starting early, taking a break for the school run and finishing in the afternoon in time to collect them and spend time with them before they go to bed in the evening. Alternatively, you might want to set up a system that enables you to work core hours from 9 am to 5 pm with the help of a babysitter, a nanny or a breakfast or after-school club. You may work in the evenings once the kids have gone to sleep or get up at 5 am to check emails and go through orders or client queries before they get up.
When managing your time, it’s essential to customize your schedule to find the right balance for you. There is no universal template that will work for every parent or business owner. It’s also beneficial to play to your strengths. Some people are alert and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning and they work much better before midday. Others thrive when they work later in the day.
Explore hiring and outsourcing options
If your business is expanding and you need extra pairs of hands or access to different skills and services, it’s wise to explore hiring and outsourcing options. You may need to hire employees or seasonal workers if you’re too busy and it makes financial sense to add part or full-time staff members but this is not always the best option. Outsourcing offers an alternative to recruiting new employees and it can save business owners time and money. Outsourcing involves working with a third party. In most cases, you will pay a monthly or annual fee in exchange for a service or a bundle of services. Examples of activities that many businesses outsource include administration, payroll and accounting, logistics and shipping, digital marketing, cleaning and IT support. If you’re trying to increase sales and attract new customers, for example, you could outsource marketing and work with a digital marketing agency rather than recruiting employees with marketing expertise.
Take advantage of innovative technology
Technology plays an increasingly influential role in the way we work and consume products and services. As a business owner, investing in innovative tech is a brilliant way to save time and money while enhancing customer service, improving products and services and gaining an advantage over competitors. There are several ways to use technology to boost efficiency and provide better services for your customers.
If you run an online business, for example, you may be worried about being inaccessible because you don’t want to lose out on sales. You might feel like you need to be contactable 24 hours a day via social media, email or your website in case a customer needs advice or they want information before placing an order. It’s not realistic to be online every second of the day. If you’re struggling to switch off, or you’re worried about missing out, there are solutions. Learn how to add live chat software to your website. Live chat is a fantastic addition as it enables customers to seek advice and support around the clock while giving you the freedom to enjoy your downtime. You can reduce the risk of lost sales, enhance customer experience, support and service and optimize the chances of converting leads.
It’s also an excellent idea to explore software upgrades and online tools and apps you can use to simplify tasks, such as budgeting and bookkeeping, marketing and promoting products and services and inputting data. Embrace automation and streamline business tasks.
Some entrepreneurs find it hard to pass tasks on to others. By nature, business owners tend to be driven and focused and they are often perfectionists. Delegating is not lazy and it doesn’t represent an admission that you cannot juggle every ball. Delegating is an essential skill for entrepreneurs. It shows that you have trust in your team, you recognize your strengths and weaknesses and you can prioritize the most important tasks.
Learn to say no
If you are a parent and a business owner, there’s a good chance that you’ll receive multiple invitations or requests every week. From events at school and social engagements with other parents to business meetings and networking events, conferences and talks, your diary may be packed. One of the most important steps to take when you’re balancing raising kids with managing a company is to learn to say no. It’s impossible to be in two places at one time and everyone needs downtime to rest, recover, recharge their batteries and have fun. Don’t feel like you have to attend every event or accept every invitation. Prioritize those that you want or need to attend and say no to the others.
Life as a parent and a business owner can be hectic. It’s a challenge to juggle both but there are ways to free up time and reduce stress levels. Manage your schedule, tailor your routine and learn to say no. Explore outsourcing and hiring options, make use of time-saving technology that will boost your business and don’t be afraid to delegate.