Starting / Business startup

How to manage a business when you’ve just become a parent

Running a business is hard. Looking after a baby is also very challenging at times. Put business and baby together, and it can be overwhelming. If this is where you are headed in life, then strap in, and get ready for a wild ride!

18 February 2016 by

Over the past few years my husband and I have built a number of online businesses ranging from brand new online stores to well-established, mature sites. The learning curve for everything we’ve done has been steep.

And then we added a baby into the mix!

While we knew that adding a baby to our lives was going to change everything, I freely admit I had no idea how much extra work being a new mum would entail. The dependence our baby boy has on us reminds me of how our businesses required the same attention when they were in their early stages of development.

So how have we coped?

Well we spent the entire nine months of my pregnancy developing systems and building the support structure needed to ensure out businesses would continue to function even if we were not available to assist. This involved training customer support staff, shipping, web development and marketing departments.

"At the end of the day, the most important thing we did was ask for help!"

And I can tell you this, all that effort was well worth it for those days where I wasn’t up to working because I had a bad night’s sleep or needed a break. It was such a relief to be able to take a day off here and there and know the businesses would continue to operate.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business startup section.

What I wasn’t prepared for …

There were two things:

1. The guilt

I find myself feeling guilty that I may be neglecting either my baby or my business when I spend too much time with one or the other. This is the most challenging thing for me – finding the right balance between being a mum and being an entrepreneur.

2. The evaporation of help

All the family members and friends who were so keen with their impassioned offers of babysitting and date nights before our baby was born suddenly disappeared when the time came. I didn’t realise quite how much reliance we were placing on these offers until they didn’t eventuate!

My top tips for juggling business and baby

If you run a home business and are thinking of having a baby, here are my top tips:

1. Make sure you have your business systems in place as much as possible before baby is born because you won’t have the time or brain space after.

Creating systems makes things clear and simple for both yourself and anyone who might help.

2. Make sure you know exactly what help you will or won’t have with the baby. It’s really impossible to describe just how much attention they require, and depending on what stage your business is in, both of your ‘babies’ might need some help to get through.

3. Remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There were definitely times when I wasn’t getting enough sleep, and it seemed like the world was closing in on me (and that worry is magnified when you think your business is also not getting enough attention). Then, all of a sudden, my baby started sleeping through the night, and everything started to seem a bit more manageable.

Have you done the business and baby juggle? How did you cope? What helped the most?

Tessa Hartnett

is a "mumpreneur" and serial ecommerce entrepreneur. She and her husband run multiple online stores – including Men's Rings Online – and have done so full time for many years. Connect with Tessa on Facebook: MumEcommerce and Instagram.

Comments

  • As a mum in business myself, I so get everything you have just said. It’s great to have a network of other business mums around you who really get the challenges you face but also understand the amazing rewards we get being able to run our own show around the needs of our families. Hats off to you Tessa for making it all happen xo

  • I started up my online dress boutique last year when I was pregnant with baby #2. I am so glad I kept to my plan of launching the website prior to giving birth as I had no idea how crazy life would become once I added another child to the mix. Now four months on I am trying to manage a two year old and 4 month old as well as trying to build my business. I’m struggling but I’m determined to keep going as my children are the reason why I wanted to build my own online business. I wanted more flexibility and time with my family. However at the moment I feel my head is always thinking about the business when I should be focused on my kids as they’re only young for a short time. Thank you for this post. It just helped to reassure me that I’m not the only one who has felt these struggles and that it is possible to get through this!

  • Alison

    Oh you should totally call in those babysitting favours. No one ever says “I’m coming over tomorrow so you can work/go out/sleep”. They’re waiting to be asked. I would help anyone who asked without hesitation but never think to ask for help myself (even though I know most friends and family would also step up). We should all ask more and swap favours instead of falling in a heap.

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