Juggling running a business and a family can put parents under a lot of pressure, especially during the school holidays, but there are ways to make life easier.
While the kids enjoy a well-deserved break, many parents find it difficult to timetable children into busy work schedules – and this is particularly true for parents who operate their own small to medium sized businesses.
MYOB general manager and mother of two, Carolyn Luey, says being a parent who works full time motivates you to be better organised at the office and at home.
“Let’s not sugar coat it – I know first-hand that juggling young children and a full-time career is hard. But, it is also extremely rewarding. And I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with wanting the best of both worlds.”
She says “parentpreneurs” or business owners with children, tend to have a different opinion of what success looks like. “Business operators who are parents not only strive for the financial freedom that comes with a good income, but they want the ability and flexibility to spend time with their families.”
MYOB’s recent Business Monitor Survey of 1,013 SME operators across New Zealand reveals 36 percent define business success as the “flexibility to do what they want”, such as spending time with family, travelling or pursuing other activities. In contrast, only 11 percent define business success as making a good profit.
MYOB also asked kiwi SMEs how many hours they work a week, and the data shows while majority (43 percent) work between 30 and 50 hours, a third (32 percent) work less than 30. Of that third, 9 percent work less than 10 hours.
Emily Richards, also a mother of two, and director of Dunedin based recruitment agency Human Connections Group, says while challenging, being a parent and running a business go hand in hand if you have the right mindset.
“It is all about understanding the needs of your children and the needs of your business, and then being able to prioritise your time effectively. And there’s not much time to slack off or do a bad job. I have two little people who rely on me to earn the money needed to give them a good life,” Emily says.
“The flexibility of running your own business means you can work around your kids, and as mothers, Victoria and I totally understand the pains associated with having children and working full-time.”
The recruitment expert says she has seen parent job hunters place more worth on flexible working hours than on high paying salaries. “For parents, flexibility is worth more than money any day of the week. And the discretionary effort parent employees give back to managers for that type of understanding is worth a lot of money.”
She warns other parentpreneurs not to get caught in a busy schedule, because eventually the energy runs out.
“We need to be careful not to adopt the ‘running parent syndrome’, where we put all the responsibility of raising our children and all the responsibility of running a business onto one plate – because it never stops. You can find yourself going on like that forever, and you are never able to switch off and give yourself a break.
“It’s also really important to remember that it’s not the end of the world if you miss an important meeting because of your child. Never be embarrassed that you’re a busy parent. You’re not making up excuses, you’re asking for understanding and empathy – and a majority of people are decent enough to give you that.
5 TOP TIPS
Carolyn Luey’s five keys for parentpreneurs to maintain a work-life balance, and to ensure for a smooth school holiday period:
- Accept that not everything will be perfect, and acknowledge that things will not always go to plan.
- Be prepared and organised – it will save you time and money.
- Leave work at work.
- Utilise the internet and the benefits that come with modern technology.