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Working 5-9: Building a Business with Kids in Tow

Building a business is more than a full-time job. Depending on where you are in the process, it can feel overwhelming. There are so many things that you feel like you could or should be doing, the list never seems to end. But building this business and making it succeed is important to you. Owning your business can give you a sense of freedom (in time, in decision making, and financially), but its more than that. There is also an element of pride and fulfilment that comes from building something too.

Like it or not, when you have kids at home the challenges you face as an entrepreneur are a little different. You have less control over your schedule. You are pulled in multiple directions. And let’s face it moms, the expectations on you are even greater. You are often expected to be caregiver, house cleaner, cook, magician who finding all the lost items, and keeper of the schedules and important things. This is more than a full time job. We are not working 9-5, we are working 5-9!

Figuring out how to wear all the shoes in your life (parent, spouse, child, sibling, friend, community member, volunteer, coach, etc) and find time for yourself too it is HARD. The truth is no matter how much we talk about work/life balance, it is a myth. It a world where we are constantly connected and people expect quick responses, true separation of work and life no longer exist. So we aren’t going to talk about that today. We are going to talk about how we better integrate our work and our life so that we can stop feeling guilty and start feeling more fulfilled.

I want to share with you a few things that I have learned along the way in my journey as I try to balance building my business with a 4 and 6 year old in tow.

1. Know your purpose – take the time to define what is important to you and what you want to stand for. What the is the legacy you want to leave (personally)? Why does your business exist? These two things should be similar. You need your business to support the legacy you want to leave the world. When you are working towards your higher purpose, you will inspire yourself and others and feel more fulfilled. When things get hard (and they do), your why, your purpose it keeps you pushing forward.

2. Know what you need – it is SO easy to focus on what your business or your family or your community obligations need from you. But what do YOU really need to feel recharged, whole, and happy? You’ve heard this analogy before I’m sure, but think about being in an airplane. They tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others, right? It’s because we can’t keep giving without refueling ourselves. When you refill your energy, when you are doing things that make you happy it allows you to show up in a better way. Your attitude is more positive, you have more compassion, you have more capacity. These things have a substantial impact on the results you get and relationships you build. You can’t keep operating on empty!

3. Be adaptable – you absolutely need plans and strategies and goals. But when things change or surprises happen, how do you show up? Build your resiliency muscle. Surprises and curveballs are going to happen. Resiliency allows you to be open to change and to adapt yourself and your business to meet the new environment head on. To take the surprises (and we had our fair share of them this year) and see them as challenges to overcome and exciting new opportunities ahead rather than barriers. Be open and say yes to the things that scare you or you aren’t sure if you can do. This is where your greatest opportunities and your greatest growth will come from.

4. Embrace process & structure – if you’re like me that probably made you cringe. So many business leaders with a strong entrepreneurial spirit want to operate with a sense of freedom, wonder, and excitement for the next big thing. The truth is that process and structure are what give you the freedom. The more you can create process around the things you have to do everyday the fewer decisions you have to make. This allows you to step away or spend more time doing more productive tasks. Process also allows other people to support you (because now they can do the work within the guidelines you have established) and it frees up mind space allowing you more capacity to dream and create.

5. Know when to ask for help – hard truth…you can’t do it all alone. You can’t build your business and have the time & energy to show up for the rest of your life unless you let other people help you along the way. That could mean asking for input or advice, it could mean taking a class or improving your skills, it could mean outsourcing things outside of your Areas of Awesome, it could mean it’s time to hire a team to support you, it could mean hiring a coach or mentor to support you as you grow and morph. The key here is being really honest about when you need help and then not being afraid to ask for it.

6. Carve out dedicated time – it is hard to go back and forth between roles every 5 minutes. You need dedicated time for your business and your family. That way each gets the attention they need and you can drop the guilt. For me, my kids are in daycare and in person kindergarten. When they are at school, that’s when I work. Once I pick them up, I shift back to mom mode and they get my undivided attention. That means computers and phones go away from 5pm until they are in bed. It also means I need to be very focused and working on my highest priorities for my business when they are in school.

This is a process. Just because you go through it once, doesn’t mean you don’t need to go through it again. It’s a cycle. There will always be a new struggle. As you grow and evolve and things around you change, you need to constantly be checking in with yourself. Big life changes are a great place to start, you move, get married or divorced, have a kid, start a business, reach a big milestone in your business, your kids move out. All of those are life changing moments. What was important, what you needed, what everyone else needed from you all changes with those moments.

Finally, I want to leave you with one last thought. Make sure you find ways to celebrate along the way. Sometimes all this investment in making connections, creating process, and working on your business can feel like tiresome work and occasionally you forget to stop and look at how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished. Business ownership is hard you need to celebrate the successes (big and small) to keep you motivated. Recognize the people who have sacrificed with you (including your family) because there is no point to working so hard and achieving massive business success if you can’t also experience the things that give you joy along the way.

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