It was the phone call with a girlfriend on my long drive home from my first business retreat that made me stop at a CVS and pick up a pregnancy test. I was fired up after spending several days with smart, accomplished people. I had re-worked my business model and couldn’t wait to get back to work the following day. I had figured out what wasn’t working and was excited to get things moving in the right direction (the right direction being profits headed due north).
But first: this pregnancy test.
I had had false alarms before, so I wasn’t too worried. Plus, what were the chances that I would finally take the leap to start my own business and then I’d get ‘surprise pregnant’ six months in? I can tell you now that the chances were very, very high. One hundred percent, in fact.
Turns out I was pregnant and genuinely thrilled. But was also a little worried. I now had a baby prep list to execute as well as my business retreat list.
Could my entrepreneur baby (six months old) co-exist with my actual baby (six weeks gestated)?
Six years later, I can tell you the answer is yes. Not only can a business and children co-exist, but I also find that they go very well together. So much so that I’ve decided to put together a short list of how having a business while also have babies, can work out in a way that serves both the children and the business quite well. Here we go:
- Instead of just six weeks of maternity leave, I was able to work from home by my baby’s side for over a year, with both babies.
- Having my own business makes my hours totally flexible. There have been times where I did half of my work day in the morning, spent the afternoon and evening with my children and husband, then finished my work day at night after the children had gone to bed. I have changed my schedule many times over the years. Having the flexibility to do so has been invaluable.
- I have been able to adjust my income based on the needs of my family. When we decided to send the children to the best private school in the area, I took on a few more clients and raised my fees. Then I increased my salary, accordingly, and voila! Private school tuition, no problem.
- I am a better parent because I am an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur means being on a non-stop personal development journey. When you realize your mindset is determining the businesses success (or lack thereof), it is urgent to constantly be working on your thoughts. All of that personal development work makes you understand yourself better, relate to other humans better, and generally just be better. All things that make you a better, more well-adjusted parent.
- I am a better parent because I am happier. Getting to do work that is creative and fun every day, makes me a pretty happy person. I know what it’s like to have a job that sucks the life-force out of you. It did not make me a bubbly, happy person. When my work day is done, I am excited to hang out with my children. We watch our favorite shows (MasterChef Junior, currently), read books, practice violin and otherwise just enjoy each other’s company. I imagine I would not have as much energy for my kids if I were working a job that made me want to gouge my eyes out.
- Having children forced me to be more efficient. I absolutely had to put proper systems in place as my business grew. I just did not have a never-ending amount of time to work on my business, because I needed to spend time with my kids. Systems make businesses more profitable and business owners saner.
- Having children motivated me. When you have kids, the motivation to get things done as an entrepreneur is built in. I had my first $10k month after my daughter was born. I knew I had to provide and that made the fear of asking for the business, demanding on-time payment and executing income-producing projects irrelevant. I was far more scared of not being able to take care of my child than rejection. The best thing you could do for your business is have kids; it’s amazing how fast one will snap out of putzing around when a baby is on its way.
Businesses and babies co-exist quite well. I find entrepreneurship to be far more conducive to the lifestyle I want for myself and my children than having a 9-5 job was. I truly feel that having flexibility, when it comes to both time and money, is the key to having a happy, full life with room for the pursuit of your own dreams.
Rachel Rodgers is a business lawyer turned business coach, intellectual property strategist, creator of Small Business Bodyguard and all around badass. You can connect with her at http://rodgerscollective.com/