Running a successful business while being a mum, or being pregnant are most certainly one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences in life, but how do you actually manage both while maintaining the right work-life balance?
We sat down with our founder and director Laura to find out exactly how she is managing the maize of family life with her 2 year old daughter, being pregnant with her second baby and running Lyttelton Lights.
What is the best thing about being a mum and running a business?
It is really important to me to be fully present in Sophia’s upbringing and to give her the time that she needs and deserves. Running my own company is giving me the time and flexibility to make her an absolute priority. Being able to make this choice is definitely the best thing about it.
How long had you been in business before you became a mum?
I had been building Lyttelton Lights for around 3 years when I had Sophia. The guts of it had been established, but as anyone knows who runs their own business, it very much is an ever evolving process. There is a clear vision, I don’t settle for the presence and there is always goals to achieve and challenges to overcome.
What is it like being a mum to a toddler and managing your own business?
My two greatest passions are my family and running my own business. It’s very busy for sure, and often it feels like I’m working two full-time jobs. The business has a huge creative aspect and daily managerial tasks has me thinking almost constantly; it can be difficult to switch off. Making a conscious choice to be fully present with whatever I do is crucial.
It’s a lot of fun, sometimes a little messy and certainly never boring. In a way they both balance each other quite nicely. I really love being a mum and I love what I do, so naturally it creates a huge amount of drive, motivation and resilience.
What are the biggest challenges about being a mum, being pregnant and running your own business?
The biggest challenge for me is managing tiredness. Whether you have a young child, are pregnant or both, it can be full on and hugely tiring. Naturally I’m very attached to Sophia and being away from her is hard. It was important to me to breastfeed and to be fully present as her mum. Wanting to parent this way while also being present at the business came with its own challenges.
Sophia was at home with us for the first 2 ½ years and only just recently started at a home based day-care for three mornings a week. It has freed up three mornings, but more importantly it feels good to have started her in a new environment when she was truly ready for it.
How do you manage these challenges?
It comes down to a good plan, discipline, commitment and the ability to sometimes say no.
It’s very important to look after yourself first, to create a solid support network and to have enough sleep (as much as possible anyway). Eat well, exercise regularly and schedule some none-negotiable time for yourself.
When we have travelled overseas as a family we plan our trip and activities around her. It’s worked wonders and I can apply the exact same strategy to motherhood and organising my daily life.
I plan my week on a Sunday night and make Sophia my top priority. Everything else gets planned around that, and it works out pretty well.
I have a diary and carry it with me almost everywhere. That way I can keep track of everything, write down new ideas and stay ahead of the game. I also use technology to streamline certain aspects of my business which frees up a lot of time, which can then be invested elsewhere.
I have learned to not shy away from delegation and passing on responsibilities. Making use of this and trusting our staff and business partners many talents is absolutely crucial.
What lessons have you learned as a mum that you can apply to your business?
When Sophia was born I was learning a complete new person, her little characteristics, interest and little cues. In a sense it relates to dealing with our customers and business partners. Everyone is different, and understanding peoples individual characteristics and needs is very important. The ability to actively listen to everyone I deal with is the basis of it all.
As a mum I have also learned to slow down. In a world where the word “hustle” and being part of the “5am club” has become the widely celebrated “recipe” for business success; I found that slowing down can actually get you ahead a lot quicker. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do the work, but it allows me to have more energy, use my time wisely and make much better business decisions. So it’s more about efficiency and quality, rather than quantity.
How do you maintain a good work life balance?
When I’m at work I’m working hard. Being ready and present enables me to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time. It frees up more time for family activities. We often enjoy going to the beach or for a walk in the afternoons. Creating memories with friends and family is hugely important to me, we travel regularly, both within New Zealand and overseas which creates a good balance.
What advice would you give other entrepreneur mums that might be in a similar situation or new to business?
Understand that it’s hard and make sure you don’t give up on days that seem never ending. There will be days that you question everything. Enjoy the ride and be present in the moment because it is totally worth it.
What are your 10 essential tips for entrepreneur mums
- Self-care, look after yourself and take time out.
- Manage your time well, plan your week and days ahead of time.
- Set clear priorities and commit to it 100%.
- Make use of the flexibility that self-employment offers you.
- Make none-negational time, turn off your phone and be present.
- Make use of technology to streamline your business and have a notebook on you at all times.
- Surround yourself with likeminded and supportive people.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- It's ok to say no; it is powerful and ensures a good work life balance.
- Love what you do, get up and show up every day.