My new life started 12 years ago. I was on my planned career path as a university researcher. Then the arc of my whole future changed in a single moment. Abbey, my daughter, had her first recognisable seizure at 8 months old.
In the intervening time, I finished a PhD and trialled a range of careers that may suit the damands of Abbeys’ care. It was impossible to find a job suitable to my qualifications, sustain me personally and meet the needs of my girl.
Five years ago, I had to do something that would build my confidence so that I could be at my best for Abbey. To the dismay of family and friends, I started my own small business. A small investment has turned into the most wondrous journey of self-discovery.
It has not been easy as I manage time commitments between being a full-time carer and a business owner. Add into that mix a wife and a mother to three school-age boys. I certainly know I am alive and some days I am not at my best. At times owning a small business has been overwhelming when I’m managing the carer role for Abbey too.
My business allows me to control some of my day-to-day again. However, the requirements of running a small business must fit around the needs of my caring role. It’s a daily dance between these worlds, but running my small business gives me a sense of freedom and self-worth that I am not willing to part with.
Here are my Top Four Tips (plus a bonus tip) on how I handle being a business owner and a very busy parent:
- Start small. Take the time to learn how parenting and the business role will work together.
- Starting any new projects, list out the steps needed. It provides reference points as to where you are up to if you are suddenly pulled away.
- Keep the goal of your business at the forefront. You may not be able to build an empire due to time constraints and the needs of the family.
- Find and surround yourself with other business owners who understand what you want to achieve, and will champion you when needed. BUT… also find a person who will challenge your thoughts. It’s easy to sometimes use our parenting role as an excuse not to do something in the business that requires us to be ‘outside our box’.
- Find help when you need it. Whether in the family or the business. If your business does take off, there will be less time for housework and making school lunches.
I hope those tips help you on your journey to start a small business with a family. Share your business dreams with me, so we can be inspired together.
This article was contributed by Dr . Tennille Graham, Tennille is the Cloth Nappy Doctor with over 12 years experience using and assisting other parents to succeed at cloth nappies and take a journey of sustainability for their family . Check out the blog and join us on our journey of special needs parenting.