Yes, that's right, I said 'parent-preneur.' It may not be in the dictionary yet, but with the way our small business world is growing, I'm sure it will be soon!
As if creating, building, and running a successful business isn't enough, you may also be trying to run a busy household at the same time.
Maybe you're a stay-at-home parent…
Or maybe you have kids who are grown with children of their own…
Perhaps you have a house full of furry friends…
No matter how you define your family, the bottom line is that, just like your business, they need your time and attention.
So how do you juggle all the demands of your business while keeping your family at the top of your list of priorities?
1.) Be Organized
Okay, this one seems obvious, right? It's pretty much 'So-You-Want-to-Run-a-Business 101.' However, when you are a parent-preneur, the need for organization goes to a whole new level. Especially if you have a daughter in soccer, a son in marching band, and a baby on an ever-changing sleep schedule… you must have an impeccable system for staying organized or you will Lose. Your. Mind.
Whatever system you choose to use, make sure you share it with the other people in your life. You can set up a family calendar online, or you can keep a calendar in a gathering place such as the kitchen or living room.
Try and put as much on the calendar upfront as possible. For example, when Timmy starts Little League, go ahead and put every practice and every game time on the calendar, even if it's months out. That way you won't be surprised by a sudden conflict down the road.
2.) Be Honest
As a business owner, you want every client to feel like they are your top priority. Each person is important, and they should know it. At the same time, you have to be honest about what they can and cannot expect from you.
Too often, parent-preneurs feel like they must pretend that their family does not exist. Furthermore, they think that in order to make a client feel valued, they can't let on that they have other responsibilities in their life.
The truth of the matter is that your clients are real people with real lives, too. It's okay for them to know that you are not a 24-hour on-call service. (Unless that is your business model, then by all means carry on!)
The best thing you can do is to be honest and upfront with each and every client:
"Just a heads up, I've got two young kids so I don't answer calls or texts after 5:00 p.m."
"My grandkids visit on the weekends, but I'll do my best to answer your questions quickly. If you don't hear back from me right away, it's probably because I'm watching Finding Nemo…again."
"I hope you'll understand that Fluffy likes her afternoon walks, so I will be unavailable each day from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m."
Let your clients see behind the curtain a bit. Then it won't come as such a surprise if you have to reschedule a meeting because Timmy broke his arm at school that day.
3.) Be Flexible
A good game plan is a powerful tool, but you will set yourself up to fail if you don't allow for a little flexibility.
Kids, pets, the weather, and lottery numbers… what do all of these things have in common? They are usually unpredictable! While we can't help you much with the weather or the lottery, we can tell you that running a business with kids and/or pets in the picture means you have to keep your plans somewhat fluid.
Now, it's important to distinguish that flexibility and fluidity does not mean you can be flaky or unreliable.
It simply means that, sure, you intended to spend all day Monday writing content. But who knew Fluffy would have so much fun at the doggy park that you'd decide to spend an extra hour hanging out? So now you just check out your well-organized calendar and see where you can slip in a little extra content creation time. No worries!
4.) Be Realistic
Along with being flexible, you also have to be realistic. Let's face it, some days no work is getting done. Period.
You may be super organized. Your schedule may be full of wiggle room. There may be a contingency plan for every conceivable scenario. But guess what? Life is going to smack you upside the head every once in a while and nothing is going to go as expected.
It's okay. Breathe.
At this point your clients know that you are single-handedly (or multi-handedly) running a business. You are human and sometimes things happen.
If you're reliable, trustworthy, and typically on target, then any client with an ounce of compassion is going to understand the occasional change of plans.
Try and make these instances rare, and always be honest and apologetic.
***If you find yourself often needing to reschedule calls, push deadlines back, or cancel meetings, then you may need to revisit your business model. Is it truly the right fit for your current life situation?***
5.) Be Present
Last but not least, it's important to be present at all times. Whether you're with a client or with your family, be there physically AND mentally.
It is not good business to be distracted by Fluffy while on a call that your client has paid to have with you. They deserve your undivided attention, and they will know if they're not getting it.
It's also not fair to your family to answer texts and take calls while sitting at the dinner table. Or maybe you're missing dinner for the third night in a row because you just need to finish up a 'few more things.' Again, organization and proper planning make the business world go round!
Now, just like your clients need to be understanding about the occasional family interruption, your family needs to do the same with your business.
Occasionally, when there is a work emergency, you may want to say to your family, "My time with all of you is invaluable, and I can't wait to hear more about everything you did today. With your permission, I'd like to answer this client who has an urgent question, and then you'll have my full attention again. Is that okay?"
With the right tools and support, it really is possible to be an excellent businessperson while also running a happy household. We believe in all the parent-preneurs out there… and we believe in you!
Have additional tips about parent-preneurship? Please share them in the comments below!
/krēāˈtivədē/ /kuh n-suhl-tnt/
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