Starting a business can be an exciting and sometimes intimidating prospect, especially when you’re a mom.
But more and more mothers are taking the plunge and pursuing their dreams of entrepreneurship. 11.6 million women in the U.S. own their own business—it’s actually the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs, so if you’re a mom with dreams of being self-employed or starting your own business, you’re in good company.
As you navigate the world of being a business owner and juggling the demands of home and family, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Avoid analysis paralysis
Researching your market and making sure your product or service is something that your target market is willing to pay for are important steps in starting a successful business.
But, be careful not to get bogged down in researching too much for too long. Some people get stuck in this phase, waiting for the “perfect” time to start their business, thinking that they need to know it all and be prepared for any problems before they launch.
Consider writing a Lean Plan, or an abbreviated business plan to help you think through the most important considerations. You can do it in less than an hour, and you can always spend more time on certain components of the business plan if you need or want to. Here’s a free Lean Planning template you can use to get started.
It can also be helpful to look at sample business plans in your industry so you can get a sense of what you should be thinking about. This downloadable self-employment checklist can also help keep you on track as you’re getting started.
Waiting for a perfect time to start a business is a lot like waiting for the perfect time to start a family. There will always be a reason to wait, but once you know what you want to offer, who you want to offer it to, and how you want to do it, follow the advice of Nike and “just do it!”
Know your limits and ask for help
It’s tempting to get caught up in trying to do it all by yourself. You probably have a vision and you want things to work out in a certain way.
However, running a successful business is rarely a completely solo project. You’ll need support in a variety of forms—accountants, attorneys, trusted mentors, a supportive spouse, family, and friends.
Surrounding yourself with supportive people can be one of the biggest keys to success for your business. If you’ve never started a business before, check out the free SCORE business mentorship program to connect with someone who’s been there.
Also, consider jobs and tasks that you can outsource. Would a housekeeper or cleaning service help free up time for family and running your business? What about hiring a landscaping service to take care of yard work, or a mother’s helper to be around the house when you need it during the day, just as an extra set of hands? Would your business benefit from a virtual assistant, someone that you can delegate tasks to so that you can focus on the most important parts of starting your business?
Schedule family time on your calendar
Running a business can consume every hour of your day if you let it. While it’s to be expected that you’re going to put a lot of time and sweat equity into starting a business, make sure you’re also carving out time for your family.
If you go into your days or weeks thinking you’ll find the time at some point, you’re going to find that it doesn’t happen that easily. Treat your family time as an important appointment and schedule it on your calendar.
Some moms carve out two hours every evening for time away from work; others will take half a day once a week. Find what works for you and your family and make it a priority.
Learn to work around the busy parts of your day
As a busy mom, you probably have a rhythm to your days. Sometimes are all about being a mom and other times are for squeezing in a work-related task or two.
If you’re working from home especially, learning to fit work into the nooks and crannies of your day (nap time) can help you get things done while still being present as a mom when you need to be. Just be careful that you still set some kind of schedule for yourself. Otherwise, you may find that you’re stretching yourself too thin trying to be everything to everyone and heading quickly towards burnout.
Limit other distractions
One of the simplest ways to cut down your distractions is to put down your phone. Whether it’s when you’re with your children or working on business tasks, our smartphones have a way of seeping into every part of life. Make sure that you are fully present during the time you designate for being with your kids.
Turn off notifications from social media apps and designate a time or several times throughout the day that you intentionally log on to your social media to catch up. Social media is an important element to any growing business, so you still need access to it, but there are many ways to manage it so that it’s not distracting you when you’re trying to get important work done.
Take care of yourself
It sounds cliché, but it can’t be said enough—if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot take care of your family or run a business. If you’ve fallen out of an exercise routine, get back into it by incorporating short walks into your day. If you’re more motivated by others encouraging you or pushing you, find a friend to be an accountability partner or find a personal trainer to work with.
Making sure to eat well can give you more energy and help build your immune system so that you’re not getting every cold and virus that goes around. This is vital when you’ve got small children in your household who are likely bringing home germs from daycare or school.
Last, but certainly not least, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. It’s probably one of the hardest self-care practices to employ when you are a mom, but lack of sleep can wreak havoc. Do what you can to get an adequate amount each night and, if you have to, try to incorporate a nap in your day to catch up. It might feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get adequate sleep, but getting more sleep will actually make you more productive so you’ll get more work done in the end.
Juggling both a family and a new business can be stressful, but the rewards can far outweigh the pitfalls. While it can feel like you are constantly bouncing from task to task and chore to chore, in the end, you’ll have a business of your own that you can be proud of.
Plus, once your business is up and running, you’ll have more flexibility to balance family and business priorities. Going into your new business with a flexible mindset and being able to adjust your plans when necessary will take you a long way in both your work and in your role as a mother.