The biggest challenge for me has been to stay emotionally strong and positive regardless of how you are feeling inside. The economic downturn, for example, could have given me ‘permission’ to get down in the dumps but I have had to stay buoyed up and positive throughout. And, in fact, we invested in the business and enjoyed huge growth throughout that time.
In terms of advice for women starting out in business, the work-life balance is tricky to achieve but the sun still comes up the next day even if you did not manage to clear your inbox! It is important to work ‘on’ your business rather than ‘in’ it and it is all too easy to get sucked into the day-to-day stuff and to lose the overall vision.
My six key tips are:
1. Plan your time
Decide when you work and when you are with the family or doing something else. Whichever you are doing, commit to concentrating 100% on that one thing not taking a business call, while making tea or changing a nappy!
2. Sort out your childcare
You must have reliable childcare in place. Regard this as a start-up cost and a necessary part of getting going. Without time to concentrate you’ll spend a lot more time achieving a lot less. In the end you’ll work twice as hard, for more hours and be miles off achieving a great work-life balance.
3. Keep healthy
Mums are such an important cog in the family wheel that if we are unwell I find that everything else falls to pieces and we get behind. As I mentioned before, the answer is to keep well in the first place. Prioritise your own health, eat well, sleep lots and ensure that you stay fit. I regard my wellness as being a vital component of my success.
4. Plan treats
I firmly believe that there is room to treat yourself, so reward your efforts with a massage, a manicure or just an hour in the bath with a good book.
5. Be nice to yourself
I think we are our own harshest judges, so be nice to yourself and take some time to look back and reflect on how far you’ve come and the successes you’ve had. Celebrate your achievements and allow yourself to accept praise from others. That way you’ll feel better about everything you do.
6. Invest in yourself
By investing in yourself you will become better at what you do, more effective and more focused. This means that the time you spend working will be far more productive. Do you need training in particular areas? Local business networks can be great for the key skills you need to get going and for niche sectors there may be workshops and online courses.
Extract taken from The Mother of Invention, written by businesswoman, author, mentor for women in business and mother of three Wendy Shand, owner of multi-award winning business Tots To Travel. The book is available to download for free.