By Guest Blogger Sydney D. Richardson, Ph. D.
I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My grandmother decided that she no longer wanted to be a maid, so she got her cosmetology license and opened her own salon. She retired when she was around 80 years old. My mother loved decorating and making flower arrangements, so she opened her own decorating business. She ran that for about fifteen years before switching to jewelry making, which she retired from in her early seventies. I have a myriad of family members who either ran their own businesses full-time, or ran part-time businesses while they worked a full-time job, so naturally, the spirit of entrepreneurship was in me before I ever realized it. The best piece of advice I ever received (although I didn’t know it at the time) was to never rely on one salary, but to have multiple streams of income, and that’s where it started. I’ve always had a full-time salary in the past, but I wanted to make sure that my other stream(s) of income came from my own business. I definitely did not want more than one boss. It was just a matter of what I would do and when.
Fast forward to me working a full-time job, managing a full household, and feeling stretched to the ends of the earth. That’s when I got the bright idea to start a new business. I actually came up with the business idea when I pregnant with my first child, however, I did what everyone else did. I convinced myself that it wasn’t the right time to start a business. So, I sat on my squelched my intuition for six years until I came to my senses after realizing that there would never be a right time to follow my passion. And that began my new business.
I wish I could say that I had a perfectly executed plan for bringing my idea to life, but I didn’t. It was literally a mix of faith, consistency, operating on little sleep, and really good luck. When you’re excited about something, you don’t sleep, so I used my “extra” time wisely to draft my business plan, select my target audience, build my website, design business cards, set up social media, and get emails out to people. If you want to know what my days looked like, think 5am to 12am. Early mornings, late nights, and weekends became my new best friends. I shared my business with friends, family, and the internet. I read every article and book on business and entrepreneurship that I could find and whatever advice was given, I did it . . . with little results. For the first year that I marketed, I did not make one sale. Luckily, my husband and children were incredibly supportive and told me to keep going, so I did.
It wasn’t until a former colleague called me that I got my first sale. A workshop leader for her professional development retreat dropped out and she asked me to fill in. That workshop led to referrals and new clients in a short period of time. Then I received my first long-term contract and now the real work began of balancing my full-time job and family with my new business. I had to figure out ways to mange my household, succeed in my primary work, and run this new side business that was growing. I’ve always used a calendar, but now it was more important than ever. To run a business, I had to plan when I would handle different components of being an entrepreneur: marketing, keeping up with current clients, following up with past clients, bookkeeping, developing new workshops, etc. Early morning, late at night, and weekend evenings were now reserved for my business. There was so much to do and no one to delegate to, however, I could delegate home life to my family.
Like many moms with young children, I had the mindset of, “If I want it done quickly and properly, I’ll just do it myself,” but that doesn’t work when you’re a new entrepreneur. My husband and I decided that it was time for the kids to take on more responsibility, which also meant that I had to give up control. I couldn’t worry about whether or not the dishwasher was stacked in the best way or how the laundry was folded. I needed more time to work on my business; delegating to the children was the best way for it to happen.
If you’re thinking about starting your own company, here are some things to consider:
- Time management: It’s so easy to assume that family will understand if you don’t have time for them, but that’s not true. In order to grow your business and nurture family relationships, time management will be crucial to your success. Don’t just plan when you will complete work, but plan for family game night, date night, and family outings.
- Childcare: There are times when you will need time alone to work on your business. Family, friends, and hired babysitters will key to securing time alone in order to grow your business and work with clients.
- Financial investment: Some startups cost a minimal amount of money while others will take your savings. Be sure to talk with your family about financial goals and potential sacrifices that will need to be made.
- Ways for the family to help: As I said, running your own company is sweeter when the family is involved because it becomes everyone’s success. Find ways to get the kids involved by providing feedback and testing out products. Every little bit helps.
The past few years have been tiring, exciting, rewarding, and challenging. I have learned so much about working for myself, but I have learned even more about the resiliency and helpfulness of my kids. Being a mom and an entrepreneur, whether full-time or part-time, is definitely possible with a little bit of help, some re-organization, and reimagining of what life should look like.
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