The past 9 months have been a complete whirlwind not just within the business but also at home. I’ve been a little more quiet on the blog front while I’ve been focusing on building up the business and I have decided to pull back the curtains a little bit again and document the next part of my journey in more detail – mainly because I struggled to find other entrepreneurs that were honestly talking about their experiences.
Being Pregnant and Running a Business
There will be a standalone post on this topic published very shortly, where I share my survival tips and what I did to get through that time period, but first of all I want to say hats off to anyone that has built up their business while they are pregnant or a new parent. I started my journey while I was still working in my job full-time (you can read my post here http://jessicadornieden.com/the-journey-from-low-paying-job-to-entrepreneur/), but that has by far not been as exhausting and challenging as growing a person at the same time as you’re trying to grow a business. So if you’ve done it, and you’ve survived – awesome!
I wanted to start with this topic, because I am officially beginning my maternity leave very shortly and am due any day now, so it was important to me to get my more strategic tips out to you before my life is going to turn into a whirlwind.
Let’s get into it: Can you even have a business and be a Mom?
From the first day when I began telling people that we are expecting, it was all doom and gloom. 90% of the people I spoke to ensured me that:
– You cannot run a business and be a parent at the same time
– I will need to take at least 1 year off
– I will be completely unable to work for at least 3 months after the baby is born
– Babies never sleep and I will be incapable of doing my job
– I will feel like a terrible Mother because I will ignore and abandon my infant
And of course I received lots more advice, including that we wouldn’t be going on holiday for the next 8 years or so…
And then there were about 3 people that said:
– Oh I had the baby and I started work for 1 hour a day or so, a couple of weeks later
– I enjoyed having work to do, it made me feel like sth. other than a walking milk dispenser
– It’s possible to continue to build a business
I understood very quickly what people meant when they said that others would be quick to hand out advice and I should get used to it. I certainly received loads of well-meaning tips. My key take away so far has been that I need to focus on being Me and doing Me – whatever that means. I will be taking the time out to document my journey and relate it to running a business, and I want to share the positives as well as the challenges.
So today is all about preparing your business for Maternity Leave and I can’t stress enough that you can never start this preparation to soon. I know 9 months seems ages away at this point, however it will go within the blink of an eye (until you hit 36 weeks when every day suddenly seems to have 90 hours in itself!).
So, how did I prepare my business for Maternity and what were the key steps?
1 Mindset and making decisions
The first thing I recommend you do is to take some time off. When you get the news, be with your loved ones, enjoy the blessing and just come to terms with what this means for yourself, your family and your life as a whole. I also recommend re-visiting your vision for your life and business and seeing how this fits in with the upcoming arrival.
For me this was very easy. My reason to leave my job was to be able to start our own family and not be in the position of having to either NOT work and have no money or work after 6 weeks, pay for childcare AND have no money. So I had always planned to get my business going before we would have a family – I didn’t however think it would all happen quite so quickly, but I’ll share more about that in my next post.
So I made the decision that I would continue to operate my business in whichever shape or form would fit in with my new life. This decision was more or less made for me, since we live in London which is flipping expensive and my income is needed here, but I also feel like I wouldn’t want to give up everything I have worked for, so it feels right to me not to.
2 Immediate preparations
Then I’d recommend that you expect the worst immediately and take some action. What do I mean? I mean, expect that you are feeling SO exhausted from growing a human that you are unable to work more than 2 hours a day. Assume that you will be feeling so sick, that you cannot leave the bathroom. Assume you are unable to eat for weeks at a time and you cannot concentrate on work – and put something (or someone) in place to help you overcome this time period. It’s better to be prepared and have a backup plan and then not need to implement any of it. I was feeling fine for 2 months and then felt like I had been hit by a truck. I just one day woke up like that, there was NO warning.
3 Strategic Planning
Highly likely, if you do feel unwell this will pass. Usually around the 3 month mark, your body has grown the placenta and your body has also finished producing the blueprint of the small human. So usually you will begin to feel less tired and more well in general. This is the time to start the strategic planning phase. You still have the brain capacity to plan and evaluate and you have the energy to implement. I found this was a good time to get stuck in with a Coach or a Mastermind Group as you can get someone else’s input on your situation as well.
This is the time where you should look at your business offering as a whole. If you are currently a true solopreneur and you do everything in your business yourself, I’d start looking at what will happen when you are not available to work. What would you need to have in place? Who could support you? How could you change your offering to be more hands off?
For example, if you are currently a coach or consultant and you mainly work 1:1 and you cannot afford to not do any 1:1 work for the time period where you are on Maternity Leave, look at some alternative options. Is there a group program that you can run during this time period that takes little to no work on your side? Is there a way you could create and sell a passive (or let’s say leveraged) income product? Now is the time to get creating and implementing.
For me this meant putting some of my future plans on hold until after the birth, because I just couldn’t be certain it would be possible to implement everything on time. It also meant that I had to grow my team to be able to release myself from the day-to-day operations of the business. I enlisted the support of a business manager and additional VAs to ensure my clients needs are met AND we could continue to grow.
I also decided to incorporate a limited company to further solidify the business.
4 Last Preparations
Around week 28 – 30 you are going to start feeling a little more sluggish and also a little distracted. Your thoughts around home, family and childbirth are going to be creeping up on you. From week 36 you may feel quite incapable to concentrate and be frustrated with your general situation. So you’d really want to make sure that by the time you hit 33/34 weeks, most of the hard work is done and you can simply put the finishing touches on, induct your new team members if that’s your chosen option and just generally finalize things. This is NOT the time to create a new product or service. You will not have the time and energy to finish things.
If you use the time wisely, 9 months is a long time to do all the pivoting you need to do to achieve the outcomes you desire. I wish you the best of luck with the journey and would love to know if YOU have any tips that you implemented in your business.