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April 24, 2013

Finding Balance Between Business & Family

Finding balance between starting your own business and your family life is a constant struggle. So how do you find the elusive “balance” with a burgeoning business and small kids afoot?

You Don’t.

Starting a business is like having a child. It keeps you up at night; you spend time with it instead of eating or taking care of yourself. Friends that don’t have their own business don’t understand why you’re spending so much time away, and you’re unable to have a conversation without talking about it.

So here are some steps for you to realize your own version of balance between business and family.

  • Why did you start your own business? If you go back to the reasons why entrepreneurship was important to you and think of your values this will help you with work / life balance. Did you start your business to have the freedom to be with your kids? To travel? To have flexibility? You need to plan that into your workday. Yes starting a business is a 24/7 job, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have time off! Decide on what’s important to you and plan your work around that time.
  • Your Work Hours. Paid work hours are 9-5, but this is your business! Pick a work time where you’ll be the most productive. This may be at babies nap time. It could be at 5am or even at 10pm. The benefit of working for yourself is choosing the times you work. Take advantage of this and work when it works best for you.
  • You’ll need help. Starting a business isn’t a get rich quick plan, it’s a long road, and you’ll need help. Do not shy away from asking from help from family and friends.
  • Start Small & Be Consistent Although you’ll want to instantly plan taking over the world, starting a business is a lot of work; a lot of time consuming work. When you start small and make mistakes, your mistakes will be small. When you start getting some consistent sales, review what worked and build on it.
  • Embrace technology Smart phones have been getting a bad rap for keeping parents focused on their apps instead of their kids. Frankly, I love technology, and I embrace it to help keep me on top of my business while I’m out with my kids. My business values include being able to spend time with my children, including picking them up for school, and take them to the park. I can check my emails while waiting outside of school; tweet while my kids get ready for dance class. Stealing 30 seconds here and there to double check on your clients is perfectly fine.
Balance is a myth especially when you’re a parent. Don’t look for balance for yourself and your business, you will be on a quest that doesn’t exist. Instead, find a work schedule that works for you, and make sure your clients know. If you’re going to be unavailable Saturday mornings from 10-12 am because you’re at your child’s hockey practice tell your client. Keep your core values in mind and why you started your business in the first place and embrace all the help and technology that is available to you to reach your goals.

Written by Nicola Doherty

Nicola is a mom of three young children and owner of online children’s store Sprogs.ca She is the co-founder of the tradeshow, Urban Mommy Expo (happening October 19th) and partner in the online magazine and community, Entrepreneur Mom Now, Edmonton. She writes for Urban Infant magazine and enjoys a glass of wine with her husband when the kids are in bed.

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