Running a business with children running around can be chaotic at the best of times. Talented parent-preneurs know that discipline, focus, and drive is needed to advance a business towards success. Being self-employed means that a flexible working schedule can be developed, and priorities can be juggled at any time of the day or night.
The following successful parent-preneurs tell us the habits they practise to stay successful at work and at home.
Habit #1: Communicating Effectively
I had stresses in business going on and they were affecting me at home. I realized that I was difficult to be around for everyone, but especially my wife. I make it a point to let her know what’s going on in the business now, even if she finds it boring. The most important part isn’t what’s happening, but how I feel about what’s happening. So even though she might not understand what’s going on, she understands that it’s making me stressed (or excited) and she feels like she’s more connected with me and I feel the same with her.
Nurture your family as much as you nurture your business. Your business may take care of your family but your family will care about you.
Brian Gatti, Partner & Consultant, Inspire Business Concepts
Habit #2: Saying No
I tell my clients that the definition of balance is not trying to get to a perfect 10 in every area of their life. Rather, it’s figuring out how they want their life to look in each area and putting the plan in place to get there.
My #1 tip that always works for me is to pause and consciously choose what I want to say yes to and what I want to say no to. When I don’t do that, I can make choices without realizing that saying yes to this thing really means saying no to something else I may not want to say no to.
Elene Cafasso, President & Head Coach, Enerpace Executive Coaching
Habit #3: Scheduling Family Time
Devote one entire day to family each weekend and put away all technology. What I find that my kids want the most from me is quality time. It’s much better to set aside large chunks of time to play, talk, and explore the world and everything else can wait for a few hours (or a day).
The easiest way to do this is by setting expectations with your clients. In the digital marketing world, it’s tough not to be always on, but communicating when and how you’re available to clients can mitigate any problems.
Aalap Shah, Co-Founder, SoMe Connect
Habit #4: Loving What You Do
You have to love what you do so it doesn’t feel like work but like a hobby or passion, because you will put your blood, sweat, and tears into your business.
Kelley Kitley LCSW, Owner, SERENDIPITOUS PSYCHOTHERAPY, LLC, Author of Autobiography, My Self
Habit #5: Focussing Attention, Not Time
You may think you have five hours to work and then wake up to a sick child. So, learn to focus only on the task at hand when you have time. You’ll find yourself much more productive if you do so. If you want to focus on your business while raising kids, you have to become a high performer. That means developing the ability to focus on what is in front of you and be present in any moment. And it means developing clarity, persuasion and productivity skills, and a sense of purpose.
Nina Amir, Chief Inspiration Officer & Inspiration to Creation Coach, Pure Spirit Creations
Habit #6: Taking Care
Keep your energy up! You can’t help your children or your customers/clients if you have no energy. Take care of yourself first so you can care for your kids and your business. (This is just like the oxygen mask on a plane. Put it on yourself first!)
Nina Amir, Chief Inspiration Officer & Inspiration to Creation Coach, Pure Spirit Creations
Habit #7: Using The 20-3-20-10 Rule
I work for 20 minutes, then do 3 minutes of quick chores (loading laundry, making coffee, etc.), then 20 more minutes of work, followed by 10 minutes of movement (stretching, prepping dinner, etc.). I use a headset whenever on a call and walk around the house if possible, or load or empty the dishwasher. When my little girl is home, she has a schedule with rewards, extra time with mommy for cooking or reading together, if she doesn’t interrupt me on a call, etc.
I will say having a child in a kid-focused business is great! Her friends served as preliminary focus groups for my gaming app and she comes up with a lot of great ideas.
Melissa Halas-Liang, Founder, Super Kids Nutrition
Habit #8: Writing a 5-Minute To-Do List
Make a list that you keep on your phone called “5-minute to-do list.” These will be things that take 5 minutes or less to do. Every time you get an extra few minutes, whether it be waiting at the dentist’s office or standing in line at the grocery store, look at the list and do one of them. They can be things like merge your multiple contacts in your phone or search for clients’ birthdays on facebook so you can start a list and make sure you wish them happy birthday next year.
Amber Dolle, Real Estate Agent
Habit #9: Practising Balance
Being a working mother is a true blessing. I’m showing my children, especially my daughter, that it is okay to work, be a wife, and a friend all at the same time. Aside all the busy trips, meetings, and calls, the moment I walk inside my home, I put down my phone and step away from the computer. Turning off notifications goes a long way and helps remind me that at that moment, nothing is as urgent and important as family time.
Sometimes it’s easier said than done. In that case, I explain and show my daughter what I’m up to and why I’m on the phone. It’s a great way to converse, bring her in, help her understand and appreciate the work I’m doing. I understand that there’s more than one way to be a good mom. Being confident and balanced in life, I’m showing my children that you can be whatever you want to be without sacrificing the people and things you love.
Harriet Mills, CEO & Founder, Wine & Design
Habit #10: Identifying What’s Important
Do something every day to move your business forward. Growing a business takes time, it’s a marathon not a sprint. Doing little items everyday will add up to success.
Heather Christian, Stressed Mommy LLC
Habit #11: Including The Family
Being an entrepreneur is typically a 24/7 commitment and therefore, my habit for success is consistently educating and including our son in our business. I wanted him to have some understanding of why we work so hard and have him feel some ownership and pride as well.
As a parent-preneur, it’s difficult to separate work from home, so giving him an opportunity to participate and learn some business skills made it truly a family business. In the process, he has set up trade shows, packed boxes, worked on our database, met with clients and worn an eagle costume!
Mickey Swortzel, Owner/CFO, New Eagle Consulting, LLC
Habit #12: Scheduling Work Hours
If you work from home, this is the time of day that you need to be up, dressed, and ready to go. The start time may flex depending on what else is going on in your life, but keeping to a schedule gets you in a regular work frame of mind. Conversely, be sure to schedule time with yourself, your partner, kids, and your friends in your calendar.
It might seem too rigid to schedule fun time, but often if we don’t schedule it, then the time gets away from us and it doesn’t happen.
Jann Fujimoto, Speech-language Pathologist, SpeechWorks
Habit #13: Remembering Happiness Brings Success
I try to be a generally happy person. Success does not bring happiness, it’s the other way around: happiness brings success. If you are generally an unhappy person and feel sorry for yourself, if you’re constantly engaged in negative self-talk, you won’t be successful. If you are generally happy, give yourself positive feedback, and believe in yourself, you are more likely to be successful.
Jesse Harrison, Owner, Zeus Legal Funding
Habit #14: Being Disciplined
When I had an 8-5 job, I use to think I was so busy, but starting my business has really put things into perspective. I wake up around 4 am to get my training done by 6:30. At 6:30, I respond to emails and do client work until 7:30 (when my girls wake up). After taking them to school (they go for half days), I rush back to the house where I fully focus on work for 4 hours. Then off to get the girls, run errands, take them swimming, make dinner, bathe them, read them a story, and then get them to bed.
After that, I enjoy my glass of wine while doing some more work.
Olivia Jaras, Founder & CEO of Salary Coaching for Women
Habit #15: Learning To Switch Off
I have to consciously open the app and refresh the screen in order to download new emails. That means, on a Saturday morning, I stop and think before I hit refresh and I ask myself: how will I feel after I see my emails? If I believe an email could trigger a stress response, then I usually justify waiting till another time.
I have also moved the email app from my home screen to the last screen of my iPhone so that, again, I have to consciously seek it out to check it.
Katy Martin & Krista Smith, Web Designer Beauty School
Habit #16: Embracing a Flexible Schedule
When moving from full-time employment to self employed, I kept my working day the same, starting between 8 AM and 9 AM through to 6 PM. I kept the breaks to a minimum and did my best to focus and get as much done as possible. So, all I’d done in this change is heap a load more pressure on myself for the same routine. Gone was the security of an employer paying me and there seemed to be no upside of being self employed.
After a while, I decided to relax the schedule and give myself a break if I wanted one. Not just a 5-minute coffee, but an hour or two with my son or a breakfast out with my wife, knowing I could catch up those hours this evening or at the weekend and no one was there to tell me otherwise.
Ben Hitchens, Founder, Older Dating
Habit #17: Expecting Respect
Even though I look like a stay-at-home mom, I am not. I run a business from home. They must respect the fact that I work, so if I am on the phone, they must be quiet and respect my clients. In return, I respect their needs of me. When it is their time, I am devoted to them. Very little cheating is involved. No guilt.
They also need to know and buy into the fact that this work feeds, houses, and clothes all of us, so they are part of this enterprise. I ask them to play their parts, do their best, and show up professionally like I have to for my clients. They come and help out at my events, they see themselves as part of the message and the business.
To celebrate our accomplishments, we go on cool vacations. My daughter knows what I make, how my work helps other women, and feels the pride in that.
Mai Vu, Author, The Divorced Mom’s Guide to Dating
Habit #18: Taking Baby Steps
Don’t be disillusioned that your business will be an overnight success (unless you’re very, very lucky or well connected). It takes hard work, focus, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears. I set myself weekly goals and keep a huge to-do list and stick to it. I’m constantly re-prioritising my to-do list and I work on the quick wins first. These small steps will eventually get you to your end goals.
Lucy McShane, Owner, Real Wedding
Habit #19: Multitasking
Multitasking is a necessity. Multitasking is also a family event. Sometimes, my kids are right next to me at Panera or Starbucks while I am sending a few quick emails. I can listen to business podcasts while also cooking dinner. Any opportunity I have to get business done during family chores/tasks, I take advantage of that time.
Heather McCarthy, Owner, Someone Special Uniquely Personalized Books
Featured photo credit: London Scout via unsplash.com