Anyone who has ever started up their own business will tell you that it is hard work. Correction, it is very hard work because ultimately everything comes down to you. There is no one to look after your computer when it crashes and loses your client details. There is no one else to cover you when you are desperately in need of a holiday. You are responsible for ensuring your accounts are done on time and correctly and that your clients are 100% satisfied. If they are not, then ultimately it is your reputation on the line. Even if you have employees, as the owner of the business, the buck still stops with you. You are responsible for ensuring that your employees are happy but also that they are keeping your clients happy. It can be immensely stressful whilst always hoping that your business will succeed.
If, in addition to running your own business, you are also a mum then it is not beyond ridiculous to say that the stress can be multiplied. All parents know that having children can add grey hairs at a faster rate than normal life! Combining that with being your own boss and you might as well buy a bottle of hair dye now. Anyone who has ever worked from home whilst their children were around is very much aware of the difficulties in answering calls and dealing with emails whilst your children are also demanding your attention. At best, you will finish the day feeling immensely guilty that your children have got decidedly less from you. At worst, you end of up losing clients or business because you are not able to concentrate on the work fully and your children feel isolated and unimportant.
And there is your partner. Unless you have a lot of external childcare help, your other half becomes your major support structure, allowing you to concentrate on your business when necessary and looking after your children when you need to answer that important call at the weekend. And yet that support needs nurturing and a lot of respect. It can often be the case that your husband or partner is the one who suffers in silence whilst you are in the middle of your juggling act. Whilst you may be glued to your blackberry dealing with the latest crisis at home or in the office, the person sitting opposite might find his patience wearing a bit thin.
Finally, there is you. Constantly juggling work, family and your relationship can lead to untold stress which is not good for your physical or mental state. Time out even just to have bath and a cup of tea can make a big difference. It is really important for any mumpreneur to remember that success at a risk to your health is not worth it.
When I started my own business nearly 6 years ago, I did so with the aim of spending more time with my children and escaping the long hours and politics that I dealt with as a City lawyer. And yet, nearly 6 years later the constraints on my time have grown not lessened. Friendships have been tested, some of which failing to pull through whilst others fortunately have come through shining. My children have learnt to understand that Mummy works and that I can’t always be there. My stress levels have been too high on far too numerous an occasion to mention and there is no one else to blame but me.
So why do I continue? Is success really worth it all? There are far too many single mumpreneurs whose relationships have not survived the test and many others who have closed their businesses because the financial pressures got too much.
The reason; I have a fundamental belief in what I am trying to achieve: the importance of supporting working parents. My third baby, Parental Choice (www.parentalchoice.co.uk), was set up purely with the goal of helping parents to alleviate the stress caused by finding the right childcare and dealing with all the admin that that can cause. In addition I want to encourage companies to support their working parents by offering our services to them as a benefit. Forget silver baby rattles, wouldn’t a childcare search be far more useful? Knowing that your company recognises you as a parent and is willing to do something to help is worth a 1000 nights out with the team. From a corporate perspective, it just makes common sense; give a little, retain a lot! All that talent and experience as well as a lot of goodwill and loyalty.
Passion, determination and a strong belief in what I have created and what I am now running is the reason I continue. The positive comments and feedback we get from clients and our corporate partners make it all worthwhile. When I hear that we have helped a first-time Mum return to work by organising her childcare or a family relocating to the UK by finding their children schools I see that as success. I am immensely lucky to have a supportive family, amazing children and a wonderful team with whom I work. There may be a lot that I have relinquished in the past 6 years but I’m still aiming for success.
Founder, Parental Choice