This article was first published on The Coach Space
A lot of moms are looking for ways to create an income that doesn’t involve working in a 9–5 corporate job. They want flexible work that works around them.
I always wanted flexibility and freedom, even before I had children. Then when I had my first baby, the desire became even stronger. A corporate 9–5 job felt so restrictive to me, but even so I kept looking for a job that would tick all the boxes. In the end, exhausted after changing jobs so many times, I realised I would have to create my own business to get what I wanted.
It was the only way. But the big question was, “Are there enough hours in the day to build a business on the side while bringing up kids?”
So I put this to the test. In 2017, I studied massage and decided to open my massage business when my son was 10 months old in January 2019. At that stage he had just started creche and I was back in my full-time job. I opened my clinic two evenings a week and Saturday. I honestly thought I could do it all, however, it led me to a huge burnout. With that burnout came some great life lessons.
Today, I have two kids. I still work full-time but more determined than ever to expand my business and bring it to the next level and make it my reality in 2022.
Let me share with you some of the lessons I learned the hard way in the process of building a business with very young children.
Lesson 1 – Be honest with yourself
Take time to be, reflect and tune in with yourself. It is important to be in harmony with your inner sense, your inner wisdom. It is your natural barometer that doesn’t lie.
So, you want to create a business for yourself, but at what cost? It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. When you’re building a business on the side, you can get so focused on achieving goals that you can lose sight of the day-to-day. Like the joys of being a mother and seeing your children change and evolve – which happens all too quickly!
Your inner wisdom will tell you if the direction you are taking is right or not FOR YOU. Before you spend money on your business, or make a big decision, take time to tune in: Is it really what you want or is it what you think you should want or do?
Lesson 2 – Take time off social media
You might think that building a business requires being very active on all types of social media.
This isn’t true, and it’s especially risky for a working mum with a limited number of hours in the day. You have to be very choosy about how and where to direct your time and energy. Not only is Social media the biggest time vampire in existence, there is a lot of bad advice being dished out by insincere people that can lead you down the wrong path.
My advice is take time off social media until you have a solid plan as to exactly how and why you’ll be using it as part of building a business (if at all), and stick to using it that way.
Will you use it as a source of information, to build a community, create paid advertising campaigns, or simply have a presence there for people to find you?
In 2020 I started a social media detox. My first was being off for a few days, then I took a full week off… until I took a full month off in November last year. I don’t have Facebook or instagram on my phone anymore and what a change. Try and you will see for yourself.
I choose carefully how I use social media and what I watch or read.
Lesson 3 – Have a realistic plan and focus on it
I think the biggest mistake I have made is to always be in action, do do do, without even thinking whether it was the best move or if it was right for me.
My strategy was to keep working at it hammer and tongs and eventually I would get there. However, I never stopped to think about what I was hammering for. I had no plan at all, no vision. I just kept going without thinking.
Instead I should have spent the time working on a realistic plan, based on sound objectives.
Think about where you’d like to be in 12 month’s time. Is it realistic and if ‘yes’, what do you need to do to get there?
Keep it simple, and achievable. Set objectives for every 3 months that will get you to your 12 month vision. Then focus only on those objectives. These objectives should be achievable by doing a realistic number of activities. If your plan is overloaded you’re likely to do nothing at all.
Set your expectations properly. How much time a day can you realistically put aside to work on your side project? These hours should be at times when you can focus 100% on your project, otherwise do not include them.
Lesson 4 – Keep a flexible attitude
When raising children, you never know what can happen (we know that too well with covid). You must have a plan that you can move around to adapt to the latest priority and situation.
Keep your planning monthly, and if or when you are comfortable, make it weekly. Have free slots in your schedule for contingency, and most importantly, be prepared to not accomplish everything you had planned…
Because that will happen a LOT, especially in the beginning when you’re discovering what is achievable for you. Avoid feeling bad about yourself by being ok with not achieving everything on your to do list.
Lesson 5 – Don’t compare yourself with anyone
I was comparing myself to others and wanted to do what they did.
I would see someone online with a successful business (or so I thought) and tell myself “if she can do it, so can I”. Six months later I would feel like a failure for not having achieved the same.
This is probably the worst thing you can do to get yourself demotivated, unsure and stuck.
Yeah, this person is where you would like to be (apparently) and is younger; she seems so successful and happy; she seems to have it all under control… “Why can’t I?!” Well, let me tell you, you don’t know for a fact if it is true. You have no idea what she has been through, you have no idea about her past, and you don’t know if her business is even profitable, let alone a ‘success’. You know basically nothing but what you see online.
So cut yourself some slack. You are exactly where you are meant to be. All your experience makes who you are, a unique person with a unique story and a unique gift. It is good to be motivated and inspired but be mindful of your thinking pattern, be curious and willing to not know everything.
Could you have your own business one day?
If you’re still wondering whether it is possible to build a business on the side, while working in a job and bringing up small children, the answer is “yes” you can but it’s not easy. It requires vision, patience and dedication.
It’s been a bumpy journey. It took me too long (to my liking) to be where I am today but I am still standing. And with all these lessons learned I am well prepared for the next stage of growth.