And while my business ambition never disappeared, for the first time it was forced to take a different shape. Any shape. Whatever shape that would allow me the flexibility to meet my career goals and the ever-changing needs of my son. And, wonderfully, a few years later, his brother.
Time constraints did wonders for reining in my propensity to overthink everything career-related.
Life was suddenly very precious and I was not going to waste it wondering.
It’s the kind of epiphany that leaves few stones unturned.
Parenting versus business life
As a wannabe soloist I’ve had more parenting experience than business but even I can see that the parallels are vast.
In my application for this Community Editor position I described soloists and parents as equally “busy people wanting the very best life for their proteges and themselves; who are constantly seeking the very best information and inspiration, to do just that.”
And I still see it that way.
But enough about me! Who better to shed some light of the real virtues of being a parent with a business, than our own community of experts; starting with the one and only, Robert Gerrish.
1. I stopped wasting time
“When our son arrived – 17 years ago – I quickly realised that if I was going to get any work done, I needed to introduce some serious structure into my day. I quickly adopted the notion of working in distinct ‘blocks’ of time and recognised that creative work needed to be handled early. Once I became familiar with my son’s (woeful) sleeping patterns I adjusted and tweaked my blocks. Having a list of ‘tiny tasks’ was also v useful so that those brief moments were not wasted…even if they were at 3am!”
Author and founder of Flying Solo and father of one, Robert Gerrish.
2. It boosted my confidence
“Being a mum gave me a new focus – when you have a finite amount of hours, you’ve got no choice but to make the most of them. It can also boost your confidence – if you can create a human and keep them happy and healthy – what can’t you do? There’s no such thing as a perfect balance, but as a small business owner, at least I’m controlling the messy mix.”
Amanda Vanelderen, owner of WorkWords and mother of two.
3. I’ve created a legacy
“It’s not just great when you have young children either. One of the major “upsides” for me was what I could do indirectly for my sons when they got older…connections and networks count. Good work experience opportunities, well paid part time work with connections as they went through Uni, learning to stand on their own two feet financially and the value of mentors and networks. If you hang in long enough, they can make pretty good business advisers and partners themselves.”
Flying Solo forum member and father, Greg M.
4. I’ve learned to champion myself
“I’ve developed a more tunnel vision approach. Time is limited and I’ve found I have to keep my eye on what I want to achieve more than comparing myself to others. Once a parent you also start to recognise the energy drainers in your social and professional circles. I spend my time engaging with those who give a two-way open dialogue because a lot of what I do is reliant on developing relationships with my clients; they have to trust me and I need to be able to trust them. You need to be selective with your clients so that you’re not overcommitting your business and sacrificing time with your family to meet the deadlines and meeting the deliverables you promised to your clients.”
Korryn Haines, owner of Encore Admin Consulting, and mother of two.
4. Connection: I am present in my children’s daily lives
“I have been available to do school drop off, pickup, attend the children’s activities, and all those other parent things, which previously it was just see them for an hour at night before bed time. I have been much more connected with the kids then most parents working full time. If you base the benefit purely on how a successful business is measured in today’s society, which is profit and $’s (sad really), then it hasn’t. But if you measure the benefit on what is more important the $’s or being connected with your children, it is a big benefit.”
Bert M, Flying Solo forum member and father.
5. It has boosted my productivity
“One of the benefits of being a parent who owns a business is the forced honing of time management skills, focus and productivity. To explain, I watched an interview on a show called Enough Rope many years ago. Andrew Denton asked Jane Turner and Gina Riley (the creators of the TV show Kath and Kim) about their daily productivity. He imagined it would take them a while to get down to the business of work and writing. Gina Riley replied with, “No, you’d be wrong there … we have to do it in school hours.” The reality is that school hours go fast, so parents have to work even faster!”
Lucinda Lions, owner of Lion Writing and mother of one.
6. I focus on value in my words and actions
“Right now I’m using my kids as a compass. I’m trying to do work that I can explain to my 6 year old son – especially why I’m doing it or what important purpose it serves for people. It helps me work on things with real value, rather than work that you need an hour and big words to rationalise.”
Dave Gillen, owner of Bankable Online Marketing, Flying Solo crew support, and father of three.
7. I have deliberately created a flexible business
“I’m not the first parent to do something one-handed while breastfeeding, or do a hospital bed-side vigil day and night, or spend several hours a week taxiing children to develop their skills, and I certainly won’t be the last. I wasn’t held back by having a business that demanded I stay in an office and work 9-5, either. I deliberately developed my business to have flexibility in my work schedule and workload, and to be able to operate remotely and to be mobile, out of necessity. I am a huge fan of the modern technology that has made this possible. There’s no way I could have operated my business in this manner even 15 years ago.”
Bronwyn Lawson, owner of Evertrue Business Solutions and mother of four.
8. I have a great perspective on not only my business focus, but on my clients’
“I can appreciate the pressures and time constraints that my client business owners have and find ways for them to set up their business priorities more effectively. Whether this is finding better ways for them to delegate or outsource tasks, manage their contact hours in ways to reduce conflict (and guilt!) with family commitments, or being able to negotiate flexible workplaces with employees.
I think one of my parent super-powers that I use with business clients is being able to see the whole situation, chaos and all, and find a path through the Lego-riddled mess, to a solution that involves sharing, cooperation and 5-star listening.”
Elissa Doxey, owner of Spindle Consulting and mother of two.
Did we miss anything? Add your insights into parenting and business in the comments below.