November 1, 2012 by benmblackman
I think you mumpreneurs could learn a lot from that wise man.
As a man who is married to a successful mumpreneur (1 business wasn’t enough for her, she set up 2 – www.verynicethings.co.uk & www.pegmarketing.co.uk ) and somebody who runs an organisation employing 19 Mum’s you’d think I would know better than to offer advice to such mortals but read on and hopefully we all come out of this a better man (or mumpreneur).
I know how hard it is to be a Dad to a new born (now 3½ year old) whilst trying to maintain some level of control over a growing business, so I can only imagine how hard it is for working mothers, let alone you mumpreneurs. I don’t think Mother Nature has helped you when it comes to the added (don’t say hormones, don’t mention hormones, think of something else man) ‘maternal instincts’ she laid upon you beyond those of us lowly fathers.
The Suitcase Full of Rocks
It’s those maternal instincts that add to the guilt, I’m sure. You know the guilt I mean? Nursery guilt; school breakfast club guilt; after school club guilt; working in the evening guilt; working at weekends guilt; working any time, having said that, guilt. And this is before the guilt felt in every other element of parenthood. You just can’t stop worrying can you? What they eat; what they don’t eat; what they watch on tv; how much tv they watch; how they behave; how many of their clothes are yet to be cleaned, ironed (as if), and put away; how much shopping is (or rather isn’t) in the cupboards. I could go on.
Being a mumpreneur impacts on all elements of your life. Hopefully there isn’t too much blood (well, it’s not as profitable injuring yourself in the workplace when you’ve only got yourself to sue) but there will be a good deal of sweat and many tears. Countless early mornings and late nights, weekends too for sure, which when you think about it makes sense why it’s so difficult balancing business with children. They’re pretty keen on those mornings, evenings and weekends too aren’t they?
Nursery and school help take care of the middle section of the day but what Mum in her right mind would not feel guilty every time she drops her little treasure off for the day? I imagine it is worse if you work from home all the time like many mumpreneurs do. ‘If I’m at home, surely I should be with my child’ you can almost hear them scream as they walk away. ‘If I’m my own boss, why on earth am I working instead of looking after my child?’
The nursery our little girl goes to is just around the corner from where we live. Ideal logistically but, if the wind is pointing a certain direction and the cherubs are playing outside, then you can hear them from our house. My wife spent the first 12 months setting her businesses up wrestling with the turmoil in her heart every time she heard it. Our little girl was only in nursery 2½ days a week but I know the guilt levels were high. I feel the same on days when I work from home or if I get a bus to work (it departs from just outside said nursery). There is nothing worse than standing outside a building from which you can hear the chuckles or cries of your offspring when you have to get on a bus and travel away. Everything in your maternal psyche tells you this is wrong. But your maternal psyche doesn’t pay the bills does it? Your maternal psyche doesn’t let you follow your dreams. Your maternal psyche doesn’t reflect on the positive elements of these situations either. In fact, nurseries and schools are very good for the young’uns (even breakfast clubs and after school activities too). Children learn far more than they could ever hope to if a working parent was at home with them for the day, especially with all the work related phonecalls, emails, documents and tasks there are to get through.
Lose the Suitcase – Be Positive
So how about you stop looking at all of those things as negatives for once? You must be a positive person if you’re a mumpreneur – it’s what got you to this point in the first place.
You are a role model to your child and a brilliant one at that. Not only are you a Mum, you are an entrepreneur. Ok, you might not be Richard Branson yet but you have created something out of nothing, not many people can do that you know? A business! It works now, it will be even bigger in the future. All those minutes, hours and days on the phone, lap-top, and kitchen table are worth while – don’t ever underestimate the impact your hard graft has already had on your offspring and will have in the future. If the fruits of your labour are literally ‘putting food on the table’ how can you ever feel guilty about that? If you’re still waiting to break even, think about what a difference it will make to your family when you do. And it’s not just about now but in 12 months and 12 years time. You’re building a legacy that, who knows, one day might become ‘& sons’ or ‘& daughters.’
Likewise, never underestimate the positive impact images of your passion, creativity, commitment and hard work will have on your children. I guess we would all rather that work doesn’t impact on family life as much as it inevitably does but showing your children your work ethnic is no bad thing in my opinion. I’d rather my daughter sees the work I have to do so often at home rather than an image of what I’d actually far prefer to do if I could (sit on the sofa, eat crisps, drink wine, watch sport on tv – simple souls us Dad’s really).
You are Your Own Boss
Never forget that you are your own boss. How great is that? It’s everything you ever wanted I bet (granted with some major headaches you didn’t really envisage when thinking of ‘the dream’ but you got yourself in to this so reap the benefits of it too). When you’re feeling that guilt about a phonecall or meeting encroaching on your family day remember the upsides you’ve gained along the way too. Don’t forget about the time you snuck off to the beach that day you knew it’d be sunny; the bike ride you took for a picnic; or the times you managed to pick him or her up from nursery early because you could knock off for the day when the rest of the world was still clock watching.
Importantly, if you can’t think of any memories like that – then make some! You are a mumpreneur, so live that way. You think differently to everyone else, that’s why you’re here. Just because everyone else works Monday to Friday, 9 ‘till 5 doesn’t mean you have to. You can be as flexible as you want to be. You haven’t got a boss anymore remember? Don’t let guilt be the boss of you.
Switch off – be a Mum
Sometimes even you mumpreneur’s need to switch off too. Make sure you give yourself some time for your family – lose the ‘preneur bit and just concentrate on the Mum part every now and then. Sometimes it is better to work the evening (if it means you’ve had some quality time with the family during the day). And who cares if you’ve got to do a couple of hours on Saturday if you’ve got the whole of Sunday and Wednesday to yourselves? Don’t worry, the world will keep spinning, even Richard Branson took a few breaks to go hot air ballooning around the world didn’t he?
Switch off – be Yourself
Harder still, like all Mum’s, you even need to lose the Mum bit sometimes too and take a bit of time out for yourself: walk; run; listen to music; read; garden; bake; be creative; eat; drink; meet friends; be merry. Sleep. Be yourself every now and then. Not your child and not your business. You’ll be a better mumpreneur for it.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in the past 7 years of building an organisation then it’s that: ‘at the times when you feel like you can least afford to take a break, you need to take one the most.’ This is far easier said than done. I’m still not very good at recognising the signs but if you can you’ll go far. As my cricket coach used to say to me ‘do as I say, not as a do’.
So put that suitcase full of rocks down every now and again will you?
Be proud mumpreneurs. You deserve to be.
Mumpreneur UK is the UK’s leading support network for mums in business, offering advice, resources, articles and events to parents who run their own business. Flexible working can be fantastic for families with young children, and starting and running your own business is the perfect way to achieve flexible working hours.
Follow them on Twitter: @MumpreneurUK
Find them online: www.mumpreneuruk.com
Ben Blackman is a self-proclaimed ‘lazy workaholic’. Constantly guilt ridden, he runs Carers Central, a successful Charity in Lancashire, started from nothing, now supporting over 3,200 Adult Carers and 200 Young Carers through a staff team of 21 and annual turnover of £700,000 a year.
Follow him on Twitter: @ben_blackman