Taking care of a newborn is hard work, just like running a small business.
Put those two together and things can seem downright daunting. After all, there’s no employer to give you maternity leave, provide coverage during your absence, and keep the paychecks rolling in.
If you’re a mom entrepreneur who’s expecting your first baby, don’t worry. As an entrepreneur and a mother of four, I can attest firsthand that it can be done. You just need to prepare ahead of time. Since I’ve been through it a few times, I thought I’d share some tips that might make the transition easier for you.
6 Ways to Prep Your Business for Your Baby
1. Set realistic expectations of your availability
Your first step is to decide how available you’ll be during your leave. For some women, this means zero availability for 1-2 weeks, then limited availability for a number of weeks after. Every woman will have her own timeline. The key is to give your clients realistic, conservative expectations: it’s always better to surprise clients by being more available than less.
2. Prep your clients
Look at each client’s project schedule and decide when’s the best time to let them know the big news. Keep in mind that babies don’t always follow a set schedule. You also can’t predict any complications that will limit your mobility or force you on bed rest.
3. Delegate and schedule your work coverage
If you have employees, start preparing them several months in advance. Even if you don’t plan on taking a long maternity leave, your employees should know the projects they need to tackle, who’s responsible for what, and how to contact you if it’s critical.
If you’re a solopreneur (like so many small businesses), you’ll need to be more creative on how to cover your absence. In some cases, you may be able to handle as much work as possible in advance and then advise your clients well in advance for how long you’ll be out. If you’ve got a business that never sleeps (like e-commerce), you’ll most likely need to find an assistant you trust to fill in for a few months. You’ll want to start working with them long before they’ll need to take over the reins.
4. Ease up on your schedule
Yes, you want to grow your business, but there’s a time and place for everything. As your due date approaches, you may need to consider passing on new clients or opportunities. In addition, ease up on your non-essential scheduled commitments while you take care of pre-baby business preparations.
5. Outsource what you can
Think about what business and non-business tasks you can outsource in order to free up your time for what really matters. For example, you could turn to Elance to find someone to help you with bookkeeping or writing. Services like TaskRabbit (available in some metro areas) can help you handle small errands or use Care.com to find someone to walk the dog. Meal prep and grocery delivery services can also be big time savers.
6. Go easy on yourself
The last few months of pregnancy and the first few months with a new baby are a huge adjustment. Some days will be tougher than others and many things will fall through the cracks. Try not to worry. Most clients will be receptive and accommodating to your temporary schedule changes. So, relax and don’t fret the small stuff – there are amazing things in store for you.
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