Top tips for mums running their own small businesses Top tips for mums in business

Being a mum, business woman and woman can be a juggle – here are some top tips for mums who are running businesses.

Mums in business are up against it, and managing your time well is essential

Mums in business are up against it, and managing your time well is essential

Being one of those mums in business, in my opinion, the hardest things to do and be – and to be successful at all it’s critical to be organised, get a support network in place and be realistic about your time.

I’ve been running my wedding and event business since August 2007 and it’s been a land of learning curves – I’m ten years into my business, married with a seven-year-old son, and here are my top tips on getting it right.

Be realistic and don’t let it overwhelm you

Some days there will be so much to do, jobs and dates on the life and work list that seem impossible to achieve in the time available. Don’t despair.

While I love technology, I love a handwritten list; I write my weekly ‘to do’ list the Friday before in an A5 page a day diary. The weekly list goes in on Sunday’s page and I write everything that’s on my mind and in my calendar – I find this end of week task very calming and it allows me to leave work behind for the weekend.

On Monday morning, I assess the list and write realistic tasks for that day, mark it off as I go and at the end of the day, write tomorrow’s list…and so on.

Your mind is focused on what needs to be actioned, and you can clearly see what you’ve achieved within the day.

Power hours!

Procrastination is difficult to overcome – this is a weakness of mine, but I get over it by having ‘power hours’. Write a realistic task list for an hour of time, turn your phone to ‘do not disturb’, close e-mails and social media and crack on.

At the end of the hour have a 15-minute catch up on calls and e-mails and repeat. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve!

Have a 15-minute break, and repeat.

Make time for you

For mums in business it’s not a 9-5 job, and it’s easy to concentrate solely on other people, but you must take time out for yourself. I know, I know – ‘haha when on earth am I going to squeeze that in’, right?! Wrong! An occasional hour out of the office doing something that you want to do makes you feel lighter and clears your head.

It could be a class at the gym that you want to go to, finally catching up with your friend for a coffee, or getting your hair done in working hours.

And don’t feel guilty. Occasional time out will improve your productivity…and leaving the office to have a treat during ‘normal’ office hours always gives me a buzz!

Put your phone down out of hours

Your time is incredibly valuable, don’t waste it.

I was obsessed with my phone and checked e-mails and social media constantly. Six months ago, I had a reality check and turned my phone to ‘do not disturb’ between 7pm and 7am, and I don’t look at my phone during these hours. What a difference it has made! While it took a few weeks of discipline, it’s now a habit that I love and will not be breaking.

I’m more relaxed in the evenings, I’m actually present with my family and friends, and I sleep better. …and seriously, what can’t wait until the morning?!

Ensure your children understand why you work

Working hard pays, and ultimately pays for treats along the way – explain to your children that treats come with hard work and saving money…and you’re in business to do just that.

Working in the wedding and events industry means that I work many weekends, have evening appointments and work on one-off projects – but it also means that I can pay for us to go on a holiday of a lifetime and have family time, I explain this to my son and he understands and sends me off with a wave.

Some weeks the balance will be focused on your business, but others it will focus on your children and family – it balances out.

Ultimately, I’m proud that my son sees me as an independent, strong working mum – a role model.

Team up with other mums in business

Nursery, pre-school and school hours coupled with school holidays can be daunting. You won’t be alone in the juggle struggles; get to know the parents on the school run, and if you create a friendship with them and really get on, share childcare with them.

It’s very normal for my friends and I to look after each other’s children to enable the other to go to work – happy children playing, mum duties ticked, and work duties ticked off the next day when your friend repays the favour!

Managing the demands on your time

Life with a spouse, child(ren), friends and family is busy enough, add your own business to the mix and it can seem overwhelming – especially when you are trying to be ‘good’ at everything.

How on earth are you to manage the competing priorities?

I work with a business coach and mentor, and it’s made an incredible difference to both my business and my life. When you find a great one, you can be honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and set clear and realistic goals for the week/month ahead.

There’s nothing like a positive person within your business who you regularly answer to – it makes your motivation and confidence soar, and my business has multiplied since – highly recommended!

Delegation, delegation

‘If I do it myself, then I know it’s done properly’
‘By the time I explain it to somebody else, I might as well have done it myself’
‘What kind of wife / mother am I if I don’t clean my own house and keep on top of the washing’

Sound familiar? This was me all over, but for you to enjoy life and enable your business to grow, you must learn to delegate.

First, get help around the house – taking on a cleaner / ironing service / gardener and having your food shopping delivered will save hours.

Write a list of every task that you carry out within your business, from the large to the small and add the approximate time per week that you dedicate to each task. Go through the list and consider which tasks and the resulting time you could outsource while keeping your clients happy. Work out the average number of hours that will save you; ultimately these saved hours will enable you to concentrate on growing your business.

You don’t have to employ somebody, consider a virtual assistant or freelancer. Write procedures, train them fully and develop ways to keep in touch and manage their workload. You’ll never look back!

Above all, make sure your business doesn’t take over. Don’t let it feel like life is passing you by and you’re ‘missing out’. Be organised, set your routine, work hard…and work smart, and you’ll reap the benefits.

You’re a superhero, believe it; you are all things to everyone, and you wouldn’t be doing it if you didn’t have the ability.

Natalie Lovett is director of The Whitewed Directory.

Further reading on mums in business

Nominations are now open for the British Small Business Awards 2017, the leading event celebrating the brightest stars in the SME sector. Click here to enter, and make sure you get involved today using the hashtag #BSBAwards. Good luck!

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