Mumpreneurs seem to have a natural ability for juggling family and work. What can they teach us about running efficient and flexible businesses?
I only realised how incredibly focused my working day had become once I was able to add more time to it. A few years ago, I crammed my business into a three-day week. A few years before that it fit snugly (almost) into 10 hours of nap time.
Yet now that my kids are at school and I have the luxury of five long days a week, do you think I’m as productive? Somehow not. I let email, social media, meetings and other interruptions consume more time than they should – simply because I have more time.
So even if you don’t have to worry about homework or nappies while negotiating deals, there are a few tips a mumpreneur could share with you.
Tip 1. Multi-tasking is easier when you’re not distracted
We all rely on multi-tasking to get things done faster. But any mumpreneur will tell you it’s easier to email and talk on the phone at the same time if you don’t also have a toddler pulling on your leg or the Wiggles blaring in the background.
Apart from the demands of small children, you’re in control over things like peripheral noise and how many screens you have open on your laptop. So try turning off your phone or email for a while and see how much quicker and less stressful work becomes.
Tip 2. Delegate the crappy stuff
Working mums know that the only way to fit an 8-hour work day into a 2-hour nap time is to stay focused on the things they Absolutely Have To Do, and give someone else all the other stuff.
Whether that’s cleaning the house, sending invoices or making appointments, chances are there’s someone out there willing to help.
Tip 3. People love flexibility
Mumpreneurs have to be flexible. One minute you’re on the phone, the next you’re racing to stop a three-year old from pulling a bookcase over his head. Safety issues aside, kids thrive on spontaneity and that means family life is a constant re-prioritising act.
Clients also value this skill more than you’d think – so use it to re-prioritise projects, stay positive, and you’ll keep everyone happy.
Tip 4. You don’t always know what happens behind closed doors
Have you ever met a new mum who outwardly appeared in control, with not a hair out of place and an immaculately dressed baby? Inside, however, she was probably a sleep-deprived bundle of hormones who just wanted someone to talk to.
Customers can be like that too. So be careful about making assumptions during meetings – keep questioning the brief to find out exactly what will make their life easier. Your client is probably just as stressed, tired and overworked as you are. That’s why they’re paying you to take their problems away.
There’s a flipside to this as well – clients don’t need to know what happens behind your closed doors. Breastfeeding while on the phone? Six kids over for a play date while you’re finishing a report? Keep it professional, give them what they want when they want it, and there’s no reason they should care.
Tip 5. Focus on the truly important stuff
Mumpreneurs are always trying to find the perfect balance, but ultimately that balance has to tip in the family’s favour. Making time for the personal stuff is one reason why so many of us fly solo.
There will be times when work seems all consuming. And that’s exactly when you need to step away; for a moment, or a day. Mumpreneurs usually have no choice but to do so – school holidays come around faster than the playground roundabout, and kids get sick. And strangely enough, the business is still there when we get back.
Are you a working parent with a tip to share? Let us know!