Just like that, September rolls in and the fall routine is here. And, let’s start by saying that these 10 tips for Mom Entrepreneurs (and really, any high functioning woman) are not ‘one size fits all’ solutions. But, they may help break through the overwhelm of managing the competing priorities.
The trendy moniker ‘mompreneur’ came into vogue a few years back to describe women that blend business ownership and parenthood with the hope of greater flexibility to juggle their priorities. Okay, insert chuckle here.
Because, without implementing strategies to create some buoyancy in life, the results are commonplace. That is to say, women often live their lives feeling scattered and exhausted. You may feel that there is constant chaos between work and personal realms. Or you may want to figure out how to let go and relax on weekends without feeling guilty. You may say the word ‘busy’ far too often. “How are you?” Response: “Oh fine. Just really busy. You know how it is?” Sound familiar?
WAIT. WHAT ABOUT ‘DADPRENEURS’ AND ‘PARENTPRENEURS’?
Likewise, ‘dadpreneurs’ and ‘parentpreneurs’ also relate to the challenges of being working parents. Certainly, these strategies will help any self-employed entrepreneur with kids. Yet, research still shows that women have additional barriers.
According to Statistics Canada, there were 1,079,000 self-employed women in Canada in 2018, accounting for 37% of all self-employed persons. Almost 60% (635,000) were unincorporated businesses with no employees. There were 1,781,600 self-employed men in 2018. A much smaller percentage of self-employed men (39%) were unincorporated and had no employees.
Indeed, Canadian women entrepreneurs are key to our economic success as a country. Also, they make invaluable contributions to our communities. But, women still face unique, systemic barriers to starting and growing a business, and they remain underrepresented in our economy.
And then there is COVID. Keep reading.
IMPACT OF PANDEMIC ON WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted women entrepreneurs. To illustrate, sectors such as retail, hospitality and food services have been severely impacted – sectors where women entrepreneurs are most present. On top of typically operating smaller businesses and having less access to capital, many women business owners also still bear a disproportionate share of domestic work, caregiving and childcare.
In May 2020, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, announced that the Government of Canada will provide $15 million in additional funding to support women entrepreneurs through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.
This investment will help thousands of women entrepreneurs and business owners navigate this crisis. Specifically, it will help women get support for things like business workshops, mentorship and skills training to adapt to a digital marketplace.
CHALLENGES THAT MOMPRENEURS FACE
Before we jump to the 10 tips for mom entrepreneurs, let’s look at a laundry list of the challenges. When I asked local Sea to Sky mompreneurs what their most challenging obstacles were, they shared the following.
- Fatigue and burnout are commonplace. Mompreneurs try to ‘do it all well’, often using early mornings and late nights for focused work time.
- Mompreneurs can’t drop everything for last minute requests.
- Working in a louder environment with interruptions can be a hard adjustment.
- Work encroaches and it can be difficult to shut the brain down.
- Constant multi-tasking leads to frustration.
- Affordable childcare is difficult to find.
- Lack of personal time.
- Guilt and the feeling that nothing is good enough.
Let’s not even talk about 2020’s theme of ‘stay at home, shelter in place and home schooling’ during a pandemic! Truly, any of the above challenges are exponentially amplified during these strange times.
10 TIPS FOR MOM ENTREPRENEURS
Indeed, these 10 strategies for mompreneurial contentment will be useful for anyone but especially for those working from home. Ah – blending personal and professional tasks when your office is located where you live is both a blessing and a curse. But, with some solid strategies in place you can teeter totter to more of a place where it’s a blessing!
Tip #1: Focus on your values.
Your values form the foundation for how you live. Get clear on your values and make choices in alignment with them. Bottom line – if you haven’t done a values exercise before take time to do it now. And if you are looking for a truly awesome values exercise – reach out here and I’ll send you one.
Tip #2: Set boundaries and say no.
Setting boundaries is an essential life skill. Of course, saying no can be hard but it gets easier with practice. Be clear and definitive in saying no. State your position with grace and gratitude. “Thanks so much for thinking of me but I’m not available.” Someone recently shared their ‘go to’ line with me: “I’m unable to do that because I have other priorities right now.” Fabulous, right?
It’s okay to pull back on your commitments and to ask those around you (including your children) to do the same. To illustrate, someone told me that the pandemic presented opportunity to let go of cramming activities into her family’s calendar and as a result, they enjoyed their time so much more. Now, months later she felt that the slowing living lifestyle was slipping away. As a family, they made choices and she set boundaries on what she was willing to take on. Certainly, there was some resistance but she held steady and everyone has adjusted brilliantly.
Tip #3: Become a ‘planner extraordinaire’.
Create family charts for meal plans, chores and schedules. Get everyone engaged and when questions are fired at you, point them to the charts. Organize your calendar by filling tasks into time slots and starting with what is most important. Which takes us to the next tip.
Tip #4: Start with what’s important.
But, everything is important. Right? However, if everything is important you might be trying to do everything all at once. At the very least, you are likely not prioritizing effectively. In his revolutionary book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People‘, Stephen Covey suggests that we need to understand whether something is important or urgent – and then manage our time efficiently to spend most of our time on important but not urgent tasks. It will be worth the time to better understand the Eisenhower Matrix to achieve that balance.
Tip #5: Clearly communicate what you need.
All too often, we aren’t specific enough in our requests. And, when we don’t state our needs clearly, others are not given the chance to adjust their behavior. For example, rather than tell your partner or children to give you some space, clearly request: “I need 30 minutes to myself so that I can decompress when I get home from work.” Bonus Tip – set a timer!
Tip #6: Get it done and move on.
Still, we want to do things to the best of our ability, right? While that is fine, we get stuck in a cycle of perfectionism. Instead, adopt the mantra “done is better than perfect” or “progress over perfection”. Honestly, no one will know that it isn’t perfect. And, you will reward yourself with getting it done and moving on.
Tip #7: Stop apologizing.
No one should apologize for taking care of family or for loving their work.
Tip #8: Carve out “self-care time”.
Journal, meditate, exercise or whatever you need to take care of YOU. This tip is non-negotiable.
Tip #9: Banish negativity and embrace positivity.
Specifically, banish negative self-talk. If you are not reason enough, do it for your children because they learn from you. Instead, ask yourself questions like: Am I trying my best? Am I who I want to be? Is who I am helping those around me?
And, embrace positivity. Create a network of support with like-minded, positive people.
Tip #10: Be present in all you do.
Our society of multi-tasking and attention deficit is killing us. We all know ‘those’ people – and maybe we were (or are) ‘those’ people. The ones replying to work emails while at the kids’ hockey game. Or, the ones going for a walk with their cellphones in front of their faces. Multitasking produces mediocre outcomes and kills joy.
YOU CAN’T MANAGE TIME
Laura Vanderkam, author of ‘168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think’ revealed data from a study of professional women that those with a child under two years old didn’t work less or sleep less than other women but everything else took a hit. As a result, they spent less time reading, exercising and watching television.
Vanderkam claims that although mompreneurs may have less leisure time than other people, their mindset is to subtract their leisure from other people’s ‘perceived’ leisure, focus on the gap and decide they have nothing. Instead, Vanderkam’s suggestion is that you have some time and what you do with it is all the difference.
Likewise, productivity expert Terry Monaghan’s approach is that you can’t manage time because it never changes – the fact is everyone has 168 hours in a week. What you can manage are the activities you choose to do in the time you have.
In the end, what busy and overwhelmed people need to realize is that they will never be able to do everything they think they need, want, or should do. Using the time you have in the way you see best will go a long way to designing the life you want to live.
So, what about you?
From your experience, is anything missing here? As a mompreneur (or just a busy woman), what are your strategies to make it all work?