My journey as a mum in business started over 20 years ago. I learned many things along the journey. Often,… the hard way. So, what are the things the older me would tell the younger me about balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship?
TODAY, WE’RE TURNING THINGS ON ITS HEAD.
See, On today's podcast, I’m not the one to ask the questions. I’m the one to answer them!
I speak to Rachel Reiter’s on her Brand Lover podcast.
Apart from podcast host and business owner, Rachel is also a mum.
And like many female business owners, she’s in the thick of it. Based on what I hear from business owners on the BYW podcast, you know what I’m talking about.
Me, ... I’ve been there, done that.
I guess you could say I was a pioneering mumpreneur. (No glamour in that. You’ll find out soon it was an accident and not without its bumps in the road. )
So, that’s where the conversation steers:
The juggle of being a mum in business. I’m guessing it will resonate with many of you.
So, ... THIS IS ME, MY STORY.
You’ll understand in a minute why I say what I say and do what I do.
The Accidental Business Owner
My mumpreneur story starts with the birth of my first baby, 25 odd years ago.
I had just given up my position as a legal executive at a law firm and swapped it for a business computing and admin teaching job at a Polytech. Not that I knew anything about teaching. But they believed in me. It was a job I could easily work around my newborn, and I was up for the challenge.
It was in the middle of this journey I first put my hand up to co-organise a conference with 3 other women in the business community. It was a success, but not one I got to witness... because on the first day of the conference, I gave birth to my second child!
But the seed was planted.
Riding on a high, we floated the idea that if we could do one conference, surely we could do more!? So, out of our team of 4 , 3 of us joined forces and started a business. It wasn’t even my idea. But I tagged along and loved it.
We organised another event and got shoulder tapped to help businesses with all kinds of struggles. Tax returns, operation issues, software woes, budgeting hick-ups, business registration,... It was all in a day’s work.
Then, 3 partners became 2, the side-hustle became a full-time job. We were doing anything and everything we got thrown at us, including conferences and events.
AND we opened a physical office.
One month later... baby number 3 arrived.
Things were going swimmingly. And then... my colleague pulled out.
Becoming a Mumpreneur
This was a cross-road moment.
The options were easy...
Either I decided that ‘Gosh, that was fun. Let’s put that in a box and get a job.’
OR, I could be brave; acknowledge that we were doing it!
Admittedly, I was the person overseeing the office while my partner had been the one who was out and about; networking, bringing in the work. I’m an introvert. Could I do that as a mumpreneur with 3 kids in tow?
I decided to go it alone.
It was a big deal, because I don’t come from a family of entrepreneurs. It wasn’t in my blood.
The moment all the responsibility fell on my shoulders alone was pretty hefty. But I also come from a long line of fiercely independent women.
So, I decided it was time to stop playing around (that’s what I thought we’d been doing anyway) and get serious about owning a business.
Balancing Motherhood An Entrepreneurship
20 years ago, things were a bit different from what they are now.
- Back then, part-time work wasn’t a thing. It was all or nothing.
- There was also no remote work. Even if you wanted to, the technology wasn’t there.
So 40 hours a week in the office it was.
Luckily, the office for me was just around the corner. The kids would walk from school to my quarters and hang out with me. It sounds ideal, but those weren’t my proudest mum moments, because they definitely didn’t enjoy that time.
I can’t say I was my most productive, either. Stress and pressure were no strangers.
Yep, mum-guilt, it’s a thing.
To be fair, I couldn’t have done the mum and business owner thing without the help of my own mum. A meeting that took longer than expected? A call from school? She was there. Unwaveringly.
And while my then husband was supportive, I was still the one leading the charge with running the household and taking care of the kids.
And honestly, it wasn’t easy. As I said, I am an introvert by nature, and having energy for my business,… and then the kids, … and then my husband. That’s a lot!
The kids were always my priority. The business came close second.
Hubby... came lower down the ladder of priorities. It’s something my marriage didn’t survive.
That was a sacrifice I made for being a mum in business.
My Mumpreneur Tips: The Gift Of Hindsight
My kids are all grown up now, and the juggle of balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship has become so much easier. That said, to this day, my kids are my priority.
Looking back, there are a few things I wish I had done differently.
So here’s my advice to the young Sandra.
Tip 1 For Mums in Business: Systems And Procedures Are Your Friends
You knew this was coming, right!?
Honestly, I never really actually realised my knack for systems and procedures. For a long time, I assumed everybody carried multiple checklists in their back pockets.
I now know my skill with systems and procedures is innate in me. From there, my pre-mum and business owner career prepared me later down the line. But also, being a working mum, it was what I needed to make it work. As time went on, I just got better and better at it.
These days, I realise they were my lifesaver and lifeline and I wish I leaned into it a bit earlier.
If I would be a young mum in business in 2023, I would make the most of the automation opportunity we have these days. Software can do so much more for us than a calculator and a piece of paper ever could. I would go on a mission to find the right tools for my business and make life as streamlined as possible.
Tip 2 For Mums in Business: Get The Help Early!
Looking back, my mumpreneur mantra seemed to have been, ‘Let me get totally burned out and prove that I can do this. Once I hit rock-bottom, I’ll look into hiring. ‘
I now realise I could have completely avoided it if only I would have known how I could figure out when I could afford to hire. (I have dedicated a podcast on this. You can find it here.)
I guess you could say older Sandra would hire much earlier and delegate much, much more.
Completely caught up in the go-go-go, young Sandra also never realised how much doing the inner work to get it all straight in my head helps. It would have prevented so many moments of despair.
And last but not least, with more help on hand, I totally wish I would have been firmer on boundaries between work life and home life.
Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that if you do what you love, it will never feel like a day’s work. But I would make it a point to be more present during family time.
It can be done. I just didn’t know how!
Ah, the gift of hindsight!!!!
How I Can Help With Balancing Motherhood And Entrepreneurship
If only we knew then what we know now, right!?
But what if there’s a short-cut?
I mean, that’s why this BYW podcast exists in the first place. I had to go through the burn-out, the sleepless nights, the mum-guilt and the marriage break-up. BUT WHAT IF OLDER SANDRA CAN HELP YOUNGER YOU?
It’s as easy as booking a free scaling strategy session now. Head over here and schedule a chat with older Sandra.