I remember thinking, can this work? Can I be a startup co-founder and simultaneously a mom? Can these two roles co-exist or will I ultimately be a failure at both if I take this on?
I know the startup life well having been in one early in my career as a young, single woman. I spent hours on the road, at my home office computer, on planes visiting clients and internationally traveling at conferences. This included long days and nights working hard and networking in environments ranging from coffee shops to bars. At the time, it all was part of the phase of life I was in. I didn’t have much of a personal life I remember but all in all, I didn’t care. It was a tradeoff I was making in my mind. I wanted to make my mark professionally and for that I was willing to make many sacrifices including but not limited to personal time with family and friends.
Knowing what it took for me to succeed the first time, I believed that a large component of that was the immense amount of time I put into it. How would I do that and still be the loving, caring and ever present mom that I strive to be?
The truth is, I got over my fear and I jumped in head first into my dual role of startup co-founder and mom. Knowing there are other people out there that are potentially facing this same type of decision, I thought it might help to share with you some tips that I believe have led to my success in embracing these dichotomous roles.
1. Plan, plan, plan
The reason I include three plans is because that is what it takes. You need a plan for your family, a plan for your startup and a plan for yourself.
This means sitting down and proactively thinking of what your short term and long term goals are in each of these three areas. I highly suggest taking the time to not only think about this, but then to make it tangible by creating a visual representation of it that you can keep available for you to look at and reflect on weekly. I personal like to create dream/vision boards but it doesn’t have to be that formal and you can really just have a working document that resides on your computer. But, print out whatever it is. Having it in front of you makes a significant difference in terms of you consciously thinking about and incorporating these goals into your daily life.
Also, I want to bring a focus on the family part of your plan. I think it is relatively easy for all of us to professionally set goals, but setting goals for your family is equally if not more important because it isn’t as easy and can be less tangible. I’ll give you an example, perhaps a goal you might have is that each week as a family you have a new family experience together. This could be in the form of a trip or making a new meal together, etc. My point here is, take the time to reflect on what will make your family grow and progress, the same way you think about this for your business.
2. Focus on Quality of Time
This applies to family, startup and yourself. It is easy to slide into habits where time isn’t used in meaningful ways. I’d specifically suggest reflecting on this in terms of personal. If you are going to take time for yourself, make it matter by tying it back to the long and short term goals that are part of your plan. If you revisit time in the context of your goals, you will find that you use your time in quality ways.
3. Be Flexible
This applies in so many different ways. For me, something I’ve had to become accustomed to is that there are times that things happen with your children and meetings have to be rescheduled.
Maybe it is a sign of age, but I think the thing to know is, there is always tomorrow. All too often, we put ourselves under unnecessary time pressures. I’m not suggesting that you start ignoring deadlines, but just keep in mind that tomorrow is another day and if something personally needs to be attended to, the world will not end and you will not lose out to your competitor due to having to reschedule. Actually though, if you do, maybe that wasn’t the right client for you to take on.
Each and everyone of us is an individual who faces unique challenges, be human and allow yourself to accept that life happens.
4. Simplify Life with Technology Tools
There are so many resources out there that save you time and simplify the challenges of daily life. My suggestion to you is use them. Examples are, auto-delivery services for household items like the Honest Company to grocery delivery. The reality is running a home is a full-time job just like running a business is. So having two full time jobs something has gotta give. So unless you are independently wealthy, something most startup founders are not, then you need to find effective ways to keep your household running without breaking the bank. In my opinion, technology fortunately makes this possible.