Managing a freelance business with kids – the seemingly unsurmountable task


tips for managing a small business with kids.

One of the things that I love most about the online business community is that there are so many mama online business owners. This isn't much of a surprise to me as the workforce can be amazingly unfavorable to parents: Kids get sick, they have days off of school, and life can feel pretty unpredictable. For me, I often feel guilty when I have to step away from work because of my children.

As a solopreneur, there is no one to pick up the slack for me when “life happens.” I am not going to lie, it can be really hard at times. BUT owning a business is hard. Working is hard. Life is hard.

So how do I do it? Like parenthood, I find a way to make things work. People go on and on about how owning your business is so flexible: I can work on the beach, take my kids out for photo shoots, and have a life of leisure while bringing in the money from my online course. But, this isn’t the case. It’s flexible in the sense that I can do client work at either noon or midnight. Either way, it needs to get done.

As parents in business, it’s important to understand and practice certain things. This is not a post about putting your kids first, sucking it up, or whatever opinionated thing people tell parents. This post is about client management and making your life as a working mother manageable for both you and your family.

Accept that life is going to throw you lots of curve balls

This is particularly hard for me. I am someone who relies on a routine to keep my sanity, and when unexpected things pop up I get really stressed out. During my first year of business, I spent a lot of time reacting. Deadlines were something to worry about when they were near, and my own business stuff was always a reaction to a situation. For example, I needed more money, so therefore I needed another client. I created a course, so I needed to grow my social media following. I hadn’t written a blog post in 3 weeks, so I should probably go do that right now.

I will go ahead and say that this is an issue for small business owners, both with or without children. The key to overcoming this situation is setting your business up for success. When the kids are healthy and life feels a bit easier, do the work. You would be surprised at what a relief it will be when your kids get their third cold and you have already written that blog post, scheduled your social media posts, put that newsletter in the queue, and worked ahead on client work. You will have room to breathe!   

Sit down and map out everything that you do for your business. Break those tasks down into three sections:

1.     I need a lot of brain space and focus to do this.

2.     I can do this with distractions going on around me.

3.     I can do this in spurts with only a little bit of attention.

The list in number 1 could be what you work on when your home is either free of kids or your kids’ best time of day. Number 2 could be completed after those tasks in list number 1 are done. And list number 3 you can save for the evening, the morning, or when your kids are home sick and need your attention.

Be honest

Clients appreciate honesty. Not everyone understands being pulled away from work because of children, but most people do. Unless there is a deadline that effects your client’s life, they can wait. Don’t apologize (why do we do that?) or tell them you will try to get the task done. Tell them that you have to attend to your children, give them a date that you will have their task done , and add an extra day to that deadline. For example, if you think your kids are going to be sick for three days, give them a deadline of five days. If you have some free time that opens up, you can always crank things out and surprise your client by turning something in early. Over promising and not being able to deliver will make your clients more frustrated than being honest and sticking to your new deadline. The world isn’t going to end, I promise.

Have a schedule

The purpose of a schedule is twofold: to have clear working hours and to stick with them. If you choose 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., this doesn’t mean that you can’t sneak in work before or after those times. But it is important to make sure it’s clear to your clients that these are your work hours and there will be no email or service/product delivery outside of these hours. That way if they send you an email at 3 p.m, they know you won’t respond until the following morning. This gives you some breathing room, and keeps you from rushing around at the end of the day.

You must also make it very clear when you onboard clients what days you are going to take off. This means that you need to sit down and decide what those days are going to be for the whole year.  So if your kids have school holidays, winter/summer break, or if your kids’ caregiver is going on vacation, you have to have these days blacked out with your clients. If your clients complain about this during the on-boarding process, it’s a red flag and they probably won’t be a good fit for you and your business. It’s best to avoid these types of clients because they’re going to just be an issue down the road.

Outsource

I am a firm believer that outsourcing is an investment that pays off. If there are tasks that you need/want to get done but they fill up your day, you could easily outsource them. For instance, I have an editor, a bookkeeper, and a graphic designer who does my blog graphics. I turned to outsourcing because I sat down, looked at my business, and realized that there were things in my business that stressed me out. I know outsourcing can feel like a major luxury, but sometimes it’s a necessity to keep the ball rolling.

Say it out loud

Many parents online are going through the same things you are going through. So confide in them, ask them how they do it, and ask them for advice when you are feeling overwhelmed. Being part of a positive community can help keep your stress levels down.

*it's also okay to feel like you suck at everything and have a good cry as needed. Wine and chocolate helps too. 

How do you manage parenthood and owning an online business? Share your struggles and tips!



 

5 Reasons Not to Buy Likes or Followers

Managing social media is very time-consuming. For me it encompasses copy, low-level graphic design, photography, story-telling, and navigating relationships with hundreds of people. I love it, but it can be exhausting. When I spend a lot of time on content and it flops, this little devil on my shoulder tells me to just buy likes. I could also just buy followers. It would be so easy and I could feel popular for a fleeting moment. It would make my failure a success right? Wrong! Next time you get that urge, don’t do it! Here’s why.


You won’t grow or learn from your mistakes

It can be tempting to buy followers. Here are 5 reasons why you shouldn't.

Followers are honest. They don’t like things they don’t like (most of the time). You may want 100 likes on a picture, but 100 people may not actually like your picture. If you buy likes, you are robbing yourself of a learning opportunity and ignoring what your followers are telling you. If you listen, you will grow and your content will get better. You may say to yourself, People are more willing to like something if it has 100 likes! It’s true. You might get some people jumping on the bandwagon, but I have never wanted to be a wagon driver. Have you?

Fake data is bad data

Bought numbers have no value. We can’t run analysis or give accurate reports to clients if fake followers/likes are muddling up data sets. Being able to help clients see successes and failures through numbers is something we pride ourselves on.

It’s dishonest

If you want people to like you, be a likable person. When I see people on social media who have a ton of followers I ask myself Why? More times than not they are nice people and are honest, positive, and consistently engage with followers. Cultivate honest relationships and you will build a community you can be proud of. 

It’s lazy

It takes time to get to know your audience and learn what they want from you. I spend a good chunk of time every couple of days listening to my followers through analytics and conversation. It’s work, but it pays off. Be active and engaged on your social media platforms. If you want a large following you need to put in the work. 

It’s obvious

Maybe the casual social media user won’t notice the followers you bought, but most people will. Fake followers have strange names, a small amount of content on their account, and they never engage with you. It reminds me of Lars and the Real Girl. They are there to make you feel better, but they don’t actually add value to your life. They just sit there pretending to be something they are not.

So next time that little devil pops up on your shoulder, make sure to shake him off. Put in the work and you will get to where you want to be.


Entrepreneur Confessions (you are not alone)


Boss Babe Social Media Confessions - a blog post for all the Boss Babes out there.

We all have things we keep to ourselves about social media. Maybe we are embarrassed, maybe we think we are the only one, or maybe we just don't want to talk about it. It doesn't need to be that way. We can talk about it, laugh about it, and be better for it. Let's say some things out loud shall we? It's confession time!

I will go first,

I am obsessive compulsive about my Instagram account. It's not a good thing and it gets to the point where I need to take two week breaks. I agonize over the littlest details and I delete a lot of photos. I also compulsively refresh my feed so I can catch every like that comes in. You know... because if I walked away they would disappear...


The next confession is from the fabulous Tanya Geisler. She is a leadership coach and an expert in the Impostor Complex. Many successful women battle the Impostor Complex and she can help you get to the bottom of it and kick it right in the gut. 

"When it comes to Twitter, I can never seem to tell if the mic is on or off."

Tanya Geisler :: tanyageisler.com


And another confession on the topic of Twitter...

This one is from Illana Burk. She is the boss at makenessmedia.com and can help you whip your branding and business into shape. She is a no BS kind of a gal and tells it like it is. 

"I totally don't understand Twitter. Five years in and 3k+ followers, and most of the time I just get confused and kinda bored and overwhelmed there. I really WANT to get it... but it feels like standing on a subway platform and having everyone there try to get my attention all at once. And I have read all the articles and taken all the trainings and still... no idea how anyone really pulls value out of interaction there. I still hang out from time to time. But mostly I just stand there with my headphones in hoping no one asks me for money."

Illana Burk :: makenessmedia.com

Yup. I kinda feel that way about snapchat...


So let's talk Facebook...

Michelle Ward is the When I Grow Up Coach. If you're wondering what you want to be when you grow up (or how to get there) she can help you. 

"I spent $600 on a course to teach me how to use Facebook ads, and I still use the basic ad manager instead of the advance one with all the bells and whistles. That Facebook does NOT make things easy."

Michelle Ward :: whenigrowupcoach.com


And last, but not certainly not least the lovely Jaclyn Carlson who is the founder and mastermind behind Blog Society. 

"I suffer from serious social media envy. Yes, it's true, my secret shame. I know what I'm seeing is an edited and carefully curated slice of a very big picture and while my logical brain knows this, I can't help but get sucked into office envy, studio envy, and don't even get me started on styling envy. It's not a trait I'm proud of but yes we all suffer a bit of social media envy from time to time."

Jaclyn Carlson :: blogsociety.com

I will just go ahead and reiterate Jaclyn's confession word for word. Social media envy is a killer, but it's not the deep dark secret we think it is. 


I bet you are sitting here nodding your head while you are reading. If you aren't that's okay, but if you are, I want you to know that everyone else isn't a master at social media. Highly successful online business owners struggle with it. You are not alone and if we start saying these "secrets" out loud maybe social media will be a little less stressful. 

So how about it? Post a confession in the comments, tweet at me, or come on over to Instagram and let's talk it out.