Creating a Business while Raising a Family

How to Build a Business while Raising a Family

Right now, as you read this, I’m smack dab in the middle of building a business. It’s a surreal and exhilarating feeling, to put so much hard work into creating something from vision to reality. I’ve dedicated so much of my focus to this undertaking and it feels so good to be doing this, for myself and for my family.

There’s a constant outpouring of ideas coming out of my mind. I’m constantly thinking up new marketing programs and promotional ideas, dreaming up launch parties, discussing employee conduct and branding ideas – there’s so much to do! It can get exhausting sometimes, and there were some days that I felt a bit burnt out, but most nights I either lay awake with anticipation or dream about my ideal shop!

As you can imagine, this venture has taken up quite a bit of my time. And I thought I already had my hands full with work, blogging, husband, kids, and a house to manage! It’s been a bit of a juggling act, with some days being more successful than others, but we’ve developed a flow in our household that’s working for us, and I wanted to share some tips on how to create a business while raising a family.

How to Raise a Family & Build a Business

Be Tenacious

This is the time in  your life to be more determined than you’ve ever been before, and to work as hard as you possible can – at everything! You are going to have to work your butt off to get your business running, you’re going to have to work harder at family, at home, at health, at relationships – things will become more challenging. But curb the complaints – remember, YOU wanted this! Anytime you’re feeling overwhelmed and down a bit, remember why you wanted to do this in the first place.

Always put your best face forward. Don’t only slap a smile on for a client, be your cheerful, happy self to your children, your family members, and your friends. Be an inspiring individual, remind yourself that you’re working towards a goal. Yes, it’s hard. But you’ve got this.

Be Efficient

Time is of the essence, especially in a full household. Depending on your daily schedules and routines, you will need to carve out essential and focused time for your business, without impeding on your family time, your home life, and your own personal time. This means focusing on tasks at hand, ignoring the call of social media and unnecessary Facebook updates, and using time management techniques or creative multi-tasking.

On a typical day I wake up just before 6 am and get my “necessary” tasks out of the way; think emails, to-do lists, organizing, and planning my day, week, and month. By 7 am the kids are up, and it’s morning routine time, then out the door by 8 am. I’m usually back home before 9 am, and my “work hours” are from 9 am to 4 pm. However!!! Some days are taken up by client meetings or doing business errands, or even personal appointments. I have to plan my time properly, and use the time I have efficiently to really get shit done.

Be Present

During your “business hours” you should be very focused on your work. A client at a meeting gets all your attention. You take notes during a workshop, and you spend time ensuring your invoices are correct and look great. Your business is another baby in your life that needs your full attention.

Do the same for your children and other loved ones in your life. When it’s family time, be fully present – don’t check your emails, don’t look at your phone, don’t do “just one more thing”. Same goes for dinner dates with your partner, or time spent with friends. Make your time with your loved ones just as important as your work.

Be Flexible

Being self-employed means setting your own schedule, right? You could time your day down to the minute in attempts to get through your workload – but sometimes things don’t go as planned. There are deadlines, client meetings, an exploding inbox and a phone call from your daycare provider asking for your child to be picked up because of the dreaded 3D*.

At this point you may feel like the universe is testing you. But what else can you do, other than take a deep breath, think positive, and pick up your kid? I like to think that the universe is sending me a personal message: “your child needs to be with you right now, everything else can wait”. I get to spend time with my child, and I move my workload to after the kids’ bedtime, and everyone (including me!) can sleep a little happier that night.

Be Inspiring

There are some days that will really push you over the edge. It will seem that your never-ending ‘To Do’ list is encroaching on your days, your household is falling apart, your relationship is failing. Time to take a break – fifteen minutes, an hour, or a day, just take a break. Go for a walk. Reflect. Remind yourself again why you want this. Be grateful for the opportunities you’ve been given.

It’s so much easier to just put your bitch face on, trust me, I know. It’s easier to take out your frustrations on the people around you – but don’t. Not only will it plant seeds of doubt in your loved ones’ eyes, they might start thinking that you may not have what it takes or that this work choice might not be right for you. Because if you’re not happy at work, why are you doing it?

It’s hard to take negativity back. Instead, be grateful. Remember that you are inspiring those around you. You are showing your children that you are a strong woman who is pursuing her dreams. You are showing your partner that you’re happy with your choice, and that it’s making you a better person, not worse. You are following your dreams, and you should do so with grace.

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Solutions to the work-life balance comes in many different forms, but when it comes right down to it, it’s your business and your life – it comes down to you. Do you have any tips to share about how to achieve a work-life balance? How do you run a business while raising a family?

*3D – what is this? I recently discovered that if your child has three loose bowel movements (aka. diarrhea) your daycare provider legally has to call you and ask you to pick up your child. Even if he’s fine by all other means. Now you know.

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Why You Need to go to a Conference This Year

never-stop-learning

When you say the word “conference” out loud, it sounds like some boring workplace event – like when Ross had to go to a Palaeontology Conference in the one in Barbados on Friends. (Yes, the tv show. From a million years ago.) But do you want to know a little secret? A conference is just like a party with all of your closest friends that you’ve never even met yet.

Whether you’re a travel blogger, a creative entrepreneur, a creator of handmade goodies, a marketing whiz, or a graphic designer – going to a conference for your niche means hanging out with like-minded people. You meet aspirational folks, your mind sparks at all the ideas flying around, and you feel refreshed, happy, and more focused on your job, on your creativity, and in your life.

I’m super stoked for the upcoming Canadian Internet Marketing Conference in Squamish, BC – located right in my backyard! It’s happening March 28th & 29th, 2015 at Quest University and features amazing speakers like Rebecca Bollwitt from Miss 604, Shawn Johnston from Forge and Smith, and Kemp Edmonds from Hootsuite – just to name a few!

Conferences are also a great time to network and get your name out there. You know what? Scratch out “network” and sub in “make friends”, because that’s what you’ll be doing. You’ll be making connections, you’ll be meeting new clients, you’ll be meeting mentors, you’ll be making lifelong partners and friends. Seriously.

Most importantly, you’ll be learning. It’s so important to NEVER think that you’re on top of your game – you can always, always learn more about your craft. About things associated with your business. Stepping stones to new opportunities. Never stop learning, no matter where you’re at in your career, in your business, and in your creative process.

The CIMC schedule is sessions on branding, marketing, blogging, and B2B info – check out the full schedule here. And check while you’re there, check out the Special Guests…..

cimc

I could have entitled this post “The One Where I Brag About Being Invited to a Conference”. I’m just super excited to go and learn more about digital marketing for my blog and business! (Sorry for the brag-ery!)

Looking for more blogging-related conferences? Check out this great directory of 2015 Blog Conferences at The Well!

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How to Multitask without Losing Your Mind

multitasking

If you looked at my very first resume, from the age of sixteen years old, I proudly listed multitasking underneath the heading, “Skills”. A few years later, it seemed to be a faux pas to even mention the word. Multitasking went from a strength to a major weakness overnight – it was reported to lower productivity, drop focus, and created outcomes that were seriously lacking.

multitasking (noun) 
the handling of more than one task at the same time by a single person

Becoming more focused on the task at hand became the thing, however as a mother, wife, and business owner, I find my time so limited that I am often forced to do more than one thing at once. I’ve quickly discovered tasks that can be easily done at once, and others that can’t.

For instance, I can’t talk on the phone and write articles. It just doesn’t work for me – I either focus on the conversation or ignore it completely. Same with photo editing – I stay focused on the one task for at least 25 minutes (and I use a timer!) before moving on to the next thing. But there are quite a few tasks that can easily be done together, which saves me time!

multitasking-2

Multitasking that Actually Works

Your body and mind are only capable of doing so many things at once. Your mind can accomplish one task, and your body can accomplish another. That’s easy, right? To multitask properly, put your mind AND your body to work, so they don’t conflict and can each focus on their own tasks. I can easily talk on the phone while cleaning, or eat my lunch while editing a blog post.

  • Do menial tasks while learning. Listen to a podcast, video, webinar, or a book on “tape” while tidying your desk, folding your laundry, sorting your files, and opening your mail.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix business with a bit of pleasure. Meet a client at a new cafe or restaurant, go for a hike while brainstorming a new project, and while doing things that need your focus, like editing or writing code, listen to the latest album from your fave band.
  • Think while you exercise. Get on the elliptical machine, a treadmill, or a stationary bike and create your to-do lists, respond to emails, and plan your day.

More Time Management Tips

True story: I thought I invented the Pomodoro Technique. Hilarious, right? I was having trouble finishing all my scattered tasks in a day, so I set up a timer on my phone for 25 minutes, determined to focus on that ONE task for that time (no email, no Facebook, no interruptions). Then I would give myself 5 minutes to use the washroom or hit up twitter, before going on to the next task. It boosted my productivity ten-fold! I thought I was brilliant for thinking of this amazing time management process! Then I discovered that it was called the Pomodoro Technique…

What are your favourite time management tips? Do you like multitasking?

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Let’s talk about Female Entrepreneurship

if-its-both-terrifying-and-amazing

When I was 12 years old, our family moved from one school district to another. While my younger sister quickly made friends in our new neighbourhood, there weren’t any kids my age that lived close by. I spent that first summer hanging out with eight year olds, more often than not. That was the summer of performing Spice Girl dance routines, my burgeoning obsession with Victoria Beckham, and the overuse of the expression “Girl Power!” anytime and everywhere!

Perhaps it was our amazing dance moves or the on-cue lip-synching, or perhaps it’s something that’s always been within me, but I’ve had an “I can do anything” attitude as far as I can remember. I’ve always had huge dreams and I never thought that any of them were impossible. Over the years I’ve realized that you have to dream big and work hard, and success can be achieved.

I’ve always hated working for others. I don’t like taking orders, especially if I think my way is best (which it usually is). No matter where my career would lead me, I knew without a doubt that I would have to be the boss. It was always what I wanted, even as a bartender or a hair stylist, my goal was to own a restaurant or a salon – not simply take home a paycheque every week. I wanted to make my own schedule. I wanted to run things.

And so I did. I was an event and wedding planner for a few years, I then moved on to being a cupcake and wedding cake baker, I did real estate for many years throughout, and have always loved the thought of being a writer, and have even started getting paid for some freelance work. I want to do things I’m passionate about, things that I am good at, and I want to be successful at them. The definition of a female entrepreneur: a strong woman who works hard to do things she loves – and gets paid for it!

But trying to balance self-employed work with babies became overwhelming, and left me grasping for straws. So, instead, I stepped back a bit, and I helped my serial-entrepreneur husband with his growing businesses. I am the ‘backbone’. I create the websites, the graphics, the business cards.  I do the bookkeeping, the accounting, and the payroll. I write emails and invoice people and answer phone calls. It’s exhausting, but we’re creating this world of ours together, and it’s hard, but happy, work.

it crushed me - westcoastmama.net

So imagine my shock when I overhear my daughter speaking about me to a friend, something along the lines of “my mom doesn’t work, she just stays home all day.” You could have seen smoke blasting out of my ears! I wanted to shout – Are you kidding me?! I don’t work?! What about all those hours sitting in front of a computer when I’d rather be hanging out with you? What about the writing I do? The hours toiling away while you’re at school? All this while I’m raising your baby brother and trying to run a household, and make sure there’s dinner on the table, and laundry put away – why do you think I only clean the house once a week?

Through my daughter’s eyes, I was a boring stay-at-home mom that was continually stressed out. It crushed me.

It wasn’t her fault, of course. It was mine. While I was busy trying to keep it all together, I had forgotten to have conversations with my daughter about my passions, my dreams, and the things that I had done and accomplished. I never told her the excitement I felt when we lived in Vancouver and I sold cupcakes at the baker’s market and catered to weddings and corporate events. I never told her that when we moved, I had to admit to myself that the market wasn’t there and, defeatedly, closed down. I never told her that I was always thinking of what I could be doing next. And all the things I was working for now – I love writing and blogging, so I turned it into a something that I was getting paid for (that’s a job!). I even do websites when I have the time!

I want to be a role model for my daughter. I want her to know that with hard work and heart and soul, she can do anything she dreams of. Anything she desires can be hers. I want her to know that I work hard – for her, and for my family. I want her to know that women can do anything men can do, if not better! Female entrepreneurship is something that I’ve been so passionate about for so long, and I decided I have to bring it to my blog.

Writing about self-employment isn’t always easy or fun. But it’s through failures and missteps that we learn. It’s through community that we encourage each other. And it’s passion that keeps us going. It’s that little bit of ‘Girl Power’ from twelve year old me, to the knowledge and strength gained over all the years of working hard at doing things I love while creating a life I’m ecstatic with.

Every Monday I’ll be writing about entrepreneurship – it could be about mom-work balance, or business plans, or marketing strategies, or whatever sparks my entrepreneurial interest at the time. And I’ll share more on a new project I’m working on, that will hopefully come to fruition this summer.

Want to be inspired? Check out these exciting sources below for motivation, smart thinking, business sense, and passion!

+ Female Entrepreneur Association + provides a ton of resources and inspiration
+ Braid Creative and Consulting + branding & business for creative entrepreneurs
+ Kyla Roma Creative + design & strategy for passionate doers
+ Danielle LaPorte + discovering true desires to map out your life
+ Hack to Start + podcast & blog for unconventional entrepreneurs

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Procrastination

procrastination

I have a million and one things on my to-do list, yet it feels that I have no time to do it in. Isn’t that always the way? You sit down, focused on your task, and then the phone rings, the kids start screaming or suddenly they’re hungry (didn’t I just feed them?), I need to use the bathroom, then I notice it’s dirty, so I tidy it up, by that point I forget what I’m doing and notice my nail polish is looking a bit lackluster…

It’s a horrible cycle – further made horrible by online activities like pinterest or instagram or twitter or facebook – all things that are meant to keep you ‘social’, all things that you’re ‘supposed to do’ as a blogger, all things that keep you from being productive!

Working from home is tough.

I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining, I don’t think it’s any easier to work outside of the home – but there’s times when I think that being away from the house, in an actual office space might make me more focused and effective at my work.

When I’m at home, I’m not only thinking about ‘work’, I’m thinking that we’re out of toilet paper, that I need to text my husband to pick up some milk, I’m thinking about meal plans and grocery lists, about an upcoming event and what I should wear…. all things that are not conducive to working!

I finally, TODAY!, have set up a home office space – notice that I said ‘space’, not a whole room to myself – and I’m hoping that working at a desk (unlike before, working on my lap on the sofa) will help me steer me in the right direction… and away from all the online time suckers that I love so much!

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