On Babies and Business

Now that Anne-Marie has delivered her second child (congrats!), it’s the perfect time to share some of my best tips to help you successfully combine motherhood and business.

After 13 years in business, a husband and two children, I have learned a lot about this topic. I have done some things right and a lot of things wrong. I love coaching other moms to successfully integrate motherhood and business, without compromising either. Here are some tips to help you do that:

1. Get ready

OK, I’m going to hit hard on this first one, so get ready.

Like cancer, business is unforgiving. It does not care that you are a wife, a mother, a laid off worker, or a quadriplegic. Sure, you can leverage those things with your target customers. But generally, you don’t get a break one way or the other because you are any of those things. The business you run is either profitable or not, and your task is to make sure it is the former. You have to work at least as hard as everyone else. You don’t get a pass because you’re a mom. I’m not saying these things to startle you. I’m saying them because they are true, and I want you to be prepared. Get ready to work harder than you ever imagined. if you do, it will be one of the greatest experiences of your life.

2. Get help

You are not superwoman. (Darnit!) You may be good at this or that, but you are not good at everything — and even if you are, you don’t have time to do everything. Do the things you do best and in the least amount of time, and do them consistently. For everything else, get help.

It’s important to be honest with yourself here. If you hate washing clothes, and when you do, you make yourself and everyone around you miserable, then find someone else to wash clothes. From the teen down the street to the partner you live with, someone else can wash the clothes so you can do things you enjoy (or at least don’t hate as much), and which help you maintain the frame of mind you need to make your products and lead a profitable business.

3. Be honest with your children

Don’t sugar coat having to work. Let your children know that you work, and tell them why you work. Help them understand that you enjoy what you do, and you have a life outside of them. Encourage them to embrace the fact that you are helping to support your family.

Let’s face it, our children are not growing up in a world where traditional jobs will be plentiful. Use your business as an opportunity to teach them the tools they will need to own and manage a business so they don’t have to rely on a traditional job to sustain them.

4. Rally non-business support

Make sure you have friends in your life who know next to nothing about your business. These people will help you remain well-rounded, and take breaks from the stress of entrepreneurship.

5. Rally business support

Make sure you have friends in your life who know a lot about your business. These people will help you do things like wrapping soap for the holiday rush, and fleshing out your next product line idea. Choose people you can trust, from industries inside and outside of your own.

6. Partner wisely

Select your spouse or life partner wisely. This is serious business for entrepreneurial ladies. If your partner does not understand the kind of late night hours and distracted business dream stares he or she will have to endure, you are heading for a difficult time. Among the things to look for are: (1) someone who has a life of his or her own, so they are vocationally fulfilled apart from you; and (2) someone who is not threatened by your success — big or small — and by the fact that you are creating income from an asset that you own and control. If your partner is threatened or intimated by your success, as sometimes happens, both of you will have to overcome some significant challenges. Keep a check on this one from the beginning.

7. Create convenience

Surround yourself with things that make your life easier. For example, don’t grocery shop on a whim. Instead, shop once or twice a week, with a list. Plan meals in advance so you have everything you need to prepare them as quickly as possible. If you really want to go for convenience, hire a personal chef to prepare meals a few times a week. There are personal chefs in most areas these days, and their prices are often surprisingly reasonable.

8. Enjoy mini getaways

Take mini-breaks as often as you can. Mini-getaways can last anywhere from an afternoon to a day or two. Use them as times to refresh yourself and keep your creative juices flowing. Learn how to paint, take a cooking class, etc.

9. Enjoy major getaways

If you can, take some sort of vacation at least once a year, where you unplug as much as possible.

10. Build your platform

As you grow your business, remember that you can only see so far into the future. If you plan to have a business for most or all of your adult life, build a solid platform that will support you no matter what you decide to do in the future.

For example, my friend, Kayla Fioravanti, co-owned a cosmetics business with her husband for several years. Together, they grew it into a multi-million dollar empire. During this time, Kayla set up the company’s blog and used it as a way to promote the business as she explored her passion for writing. By the time they sold the business, Kayla had honed her writing skills so well that she was able to transfer seamlessly from the cosmetics business to a business as an author.

Are you a mom considering starting a business of your own? Are you a mom who already has a business? Either way, we’d love to hear from you! What tips can you share? What do you think of the ones here?

34 Responses to “On Babies and Business”

  1. Mindy says:

    As a mother of 2, with a full time job that includes partial travel, and multiple businesses (www.stampola.com) that help support my Mom (she works for me) and to generate extra income, it was nice to read this. The #1 thing to me was the spouse part…not that most of us can go back and “re-pick” a spouse, but something to be very aware of if you are the kind of gal that is super motivated and always creating some new income channel or money making hobby. My husband, thank goodness, is absolutely wonderful in that area – but I can see if he wasn’t how it would be hard. We also do the short and then longer term getaways…not only to separate from the business stuff, but to refresh our romance. Fortunately, we have Grandparents on both sides to help, and that has made it a lot easier. Thank you for outlining these important items and making it so clear. It’s great to have a career and a business and a family, but it also requires a lot of planning, realizing where to ask for help and support.

  2. Ricki says:

    You should check out pajamadiaries.com, it’s a great comic strip whose focus is the juggling act that working mom’s take on.

  3. I agree with you totally on all aspects. If you hate doing something, chances are you wont do it well and you will not be happy doing it so get someone else to do it. Sometimes easier said than done but definitely true.
    I am also very fortunate to have a husband who has multiple successful businesses of his own so he definitely understands. We both will spend meal times in a far off daze with business matters on our minds but we both understand the strain the other is going through. I AM LUCKY.

  4. Brooke says:

    I awoke this morning feeling defeated! I had a day yesterday where I felt like couldn’t complete one task. My 18 month old is teething, climbing and demanding my full attention.
    I’m just starting a business and unless I am moving my product, it’s not moving and I cant seem to do that with a VERY fussy baby. Yesterday, a very small thought ran through my head of how much easier it would be if I just had a regular 9-5 job. Regular income, regular hours…but that would mean giving up my dream.
    Thank you so much for writing this article! I needed to hear these words and advice to build back the confidence and push back my defeated thoughts. Thank you!

    • Brooke, When I was a new mom, I woke up feeling defeated sometimes too. If you can, get some help. If not, lighten up on the business so you can relax and enjoy your baby. I hope you dream includes regular income and regular hours. Even when you work for yourself, inputting systems that allow you to have a somewhat predictable schedule and make predictable (somewhat) income will be critical as you grow. You cannot run your life without a schedule, so making sure you and your business have one will be key. Good luck, you can do it! (Well, you *are* doing it!)

  5. Cindy says:

    Wow, this is some of the best advice I’ve seen. Another thought is to make sure you set time aside for family because sometimes they feel taken for granted. But the flexibility of having my own business has allowed for me to take time during the school years to volunteer when needed and spend time with my kids I wouldn’t have gotten to do with a 9-5 job. Thanks for taking the time to write this A-M.
    Cindy

    • Actually, I wrote it, Cindy, as a guest post. Of course the most important part is that you enjoyed it, and I’m so glad. Also, thanks for sharing your reminder to spend time with family. Since I work *with* my spouse and we have two kids, we have to really work to plan this. Otherwise, it begins to feel like working is actually spending time together — which it is, but not the kind you’re talking about. Thanks for sharing that tip!

  6. Lauren says:

    Thank you for this. With daughter number two rounding out the three month mark and daughter number one on her first summer vacation, I am working on new routines and systems for my Buisness and formulas based on our new situation. Staying flexible.

  7. Michele says:

    Yikes!I can see that I’ve been doing a whole lot of things wrong.I tend to try to maintain the house,appease the daughter,cook,do laundry,grocery shop,and run a business all on my own. Often business has to come in last place-when other duties call. I don’t have a young child in the house, but still one that needs me to be there for her-a husband that travels often etc. and no family to help out.

    I get your point of letting your child know you “work” and it has to be a priority sometimes,but especially when they were young I felt they needed to be my priority-maybe that was wrong. I can see that my business has suffered from “failure to thrive” because of this-I mean I do have business, but it’s sporadic. Perhaps I need to shift priorities in some way,however it is not feasible for me to have someone come to clean or cook-and it has to be done-in the end I just do the best I can.

    • Michele, thank you for sharing. There is no right or wrong way to do any of this. I have found that, sometimes, putting my business first *is* putting my family first. After all, part of the passion I have for business is that it provides for my family in many ways. Often times, business is the means to the end and the end to the means, all at the same time. Finding a rhythm you can predict, schedule and live with is critical. My children are 9 and 11 and they are old enough to understand now, when mommy can and cannot do things with them, and why. We try to schedule as much fun as possible as a family, and that makes it easier to schedule business around that — instead of the other way around. My children do a lot of the cleaning I used to do now that they are older. This helps a lot too. With 4 people cleaning up a little every day, especially behind themselves, it’s not hard work for anyone to contribute.

  8. Christian says:

    I’m not married or a mother. However, I did want to say I really appreciate this post. I’m in the very beginning stages of starting my bath and body business and this advice is invaluable. The soaping community is blessed to have someone so willing to share her insight.

  9. Unfortunately for me I may never be able to have children of my own but I was blessed with a man in my life with a fantastic teenage daughter.

    They both support me fully and are completely understanding. They both even help. They understand that I am really busy with the business being so new.

    They know that dinner will still get cooked even if it isn’t a 5 star meal, the house may be messy but it won’t be dirty, I will still be a chauffeur and a personal shopper, etc.

    I’ve found that the easiest thing for me to do is to work around them. When she has a physical therapy appointment, I sit in the waiting area and crochet washcloths for my store. When she’s at school or practice I make soap. When He wants to play a video came, I crochet and watch. When no one is home I turn my kitchen into my photography studio. And when I need a break, I clean or take a nap.

    I’m really lucky in the fact that they get it. They offer to help. They jump in when there is a crisis. They keep me focused because they believe in me. If I didn’t have their support Bathe Happy wouldn’t be a reality. This is definitely a must-read post, thanks for sharing.

    • Trish, this sounds fantastic! I applaud you for creating a lifestyle that works for you and your family, and a system that is flexible enough to change, yet firm enough to allow you to accomplish specific goals each day. Thank you for sharing with me and others some great ideas on how things can work when you just work around things. Great job!

  10. Carolyn Ortiz says:

    Hi, this is an excellent post.
    In my case I have a 3 years old girl,married,with a full time job 8-5, and still want to continuos my soap busineess, but most all the time I am tired,,,and my creativity goes down……some advice?

    • Carolyn, thanks for reading. I’m glad you found the post helpful. Advice: get some help. Either help with the business or help with the kids. I don’t mean to be blunt, but if you’re tired and you have no creativity, your business will suffer, and so will your mothering. Get some help, and have the best of both worlds!

  11. Rachel says:

    I don’t have children, but certainly find your tips helpful whether there are children in your life or not. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and advice. It’s very helpful to see how other women manage to do it all! I admire you.

  12. Meagan says:

    I’m still having trouble with the supportive spouse thing. We’ve been married for almost 4 years and have a 17 month old. I’m not making much money yet since I’ve been soaping for only about a year, and he doesn’t see any potential in it. He also gets upset when I spend more than an hour or so soaping. It’s really frustrating, especially since I love doing it so much.

  13. Carolyn Ortiz says:

    Hi Donna!
    Thanks for respond.
    I have a housmade thats help me with the baby an the home things, but after I get out of work I wento to home to spend time with my girl,,,,,and when she goes to slepp its the time for me to star doing some soap,,,,at that time I am tired,,,,,working all day,,,,ect ect….

    • Yes, parenting is exhausting — even without factoring in a business ans a traditional job. I wish you the best in your juggling journey. Just know that you are not alone, and I hope you rely on your support systems when you need to do so.

  14. Gretchen says:

    Thank you for this post. You offer valuable, real-world perspective on the fantasy of “having it all.”

    I have successfully involved my boys in my business by putting them to work. My 7-year old can read, so he checks off the packing list when we unpack new orders. My 3-year old can count, so he can sort bottles and caps, or group items according to size, shape, etc. When I hosted an open house, the boys were my greeters!

    These are simple ideas, but the boys feel involved in my business, rather than feeling left out because Mom is working. Not only that, it’s been a marvelous learning opportunity for everything from simple counting to volume measurement. It won’t be long before we’re discussing net cost and profit margins. It’s a lot of work, but that’s what parenting is!

    Thanks again for your post. We can all benefit from your wisdom.

  15. clara says:

    This was a great post. As a child, my grandmother introduced me to soap making. Over the last year or so, Ive strongly considered starting my own soapmaking business. This website is awesome.

  16. I needed this! I had my baby on June 7th and have not made soap or anything else since. I feel like finding the time to shower and keep up with the house is hard, let alone make time for my business. I have had a few sales, but am running out of product! Thanks for the motivation to not let my business suffer :)

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