Dear stay-at-home mom running a business from home,
It came to my heart to write you today coming from a personal place. Like you, I have a business which I run right from home. I started right after my baby turned a year old. Today, he is three; and I have a second baby who is 7 months old. Thankfully, my business has grown from those early days of fighting fear, and the imposter syndrome, while making a few hundreds of thousands, to millions today. I am still fighting fear and taking down giants on a whole ‘nother level.
Besides the joy of contributing to the family income and savings, I am very thankful for the flexibility in timings being an At-home CEO offers me. And I love calling myself that… An At-home CEO! It gives me perspective that even though I am CEO, I still have to balance that with running my home. That balance is tricky I must say and reading Mary Byers Making Work at Home Work, has helped me navigate it. I recommend.
But really, what I want to share with you, today, I didn’t learn from a book, but on the job. I want to say that I made these mistakes so that maybe you would relate with me more, but I didn’t. Somehow, I received sense before I found myself spiraling down a wrong path, and I want to share with you before you make them, because Sister dearest, the pressure to succeed, at least by the world’s definition is REAL. And it is beautiful that a lot of us want to make more from our lives, in addition to caring for and serving our families, but we must make sure that we are doing this from the right place, and not letting our homes suffer as we #PressForProgress.
First, let’s get this straight.
You are different.
Or better still, your case is different.
You have a baby (or 3), a home to run, you may or may not have domestic help, and here you are adding another baby to the mix – a brand-new business you are probably running alone. I know that for most of us, sales of our goods and services are powered by social media, and when it comes to social media marketing, the rules are endless.
For example, I read one the other day that said you must respond to all your clients in real time, if not they would go to your competitors. This holds water to some extent. I recall one out of many, this client who was furious with me and asked for a refund, because I wasn’t responding to her fast enough. She was back in a year and when she messaged me, I responded immediately.
Now, it wasn’t so much that I had learned my lesson like she said, as it was that I just happened to be online and available to chat at the time. Furthermore, at the time, I didn’t have the luxury of staff to help me do the job, or a domestic help. Responding to every message in real time, while being a full time mommy and wife would have positively killed me. Plus, we have seen clients send WhatsApp messages at odd hours expecting immediate feedback. You must know your current reality and where to draw the line. Don’t feel guilty or less than, because it looks like you are losing clients to your competitors.
Today, I have staff and a functional domestic manager, and this affords us the opportunity to reduce response time considerably. But there are times I simply cannot. Like weekends. Or if something comes up that totally takes my attention. I may have lost some clients, but I lost what wasn’t even mine in the first place. Yes, I want to grow and blow, but I don’t want to lose precious time with my babies, or make my husband feel like he comes second place, because I have to be holding my phone all the time.
Remember, your case is different. Moms who work outside the home have the lines already drawn for them. They leave work and they are truly done. While the At-home CEO has work with her everywhere, so don’t be tempted to think that you have to be ‘ON’ at all times. In fact, I highly recommend you separate your work phone from your personal phone, so that you can easily focus on either when you need to, and without guilt.
I also learned that you must always keep your social media page buzzing with content, and never take a break, if not people will move to the competition and soon forget about you. Phew. I almost felt intense pressure about to well up in me when I read that. I thought of times I had to take breaks from posting because I needed to focus on something else.
I do believe in consistency, but like I said, your case is different and you must weigh such advice against the peculiarities of your own reality. A stable business can afford that, but you, running this biz on your own, your baby might be sick, or you may be sick, a different assignment pops up calling for attention, but because you fear losing your clients, you continue to over-stretch yourself to put content out on a regular, and get people to approve of you as they ask the question we all want to hear… ‘How do you do it?’
Even though I post on a regular basis, I do not do it anymore from a point of pressure. I have had to pause or slow down at different times as need be, and do something else, even if just to have more time with my son on holidays.
When I had my second son, my posts kept going, and I recall so many people asking me how I was doing it with a new born. Well, I wasn’t doing anything. My staff was posting content I provided her for that period. Guess who chilled from posting when we ran out of content and I was still in a new-mommy daze? Me! And without guilt.
So, nothing exactly wrong with these advice, it just may not be right for you in this season. And it is OK.
And just to quickly add a word about competitors. It helps me to see those in the same line of business as co-labourers in a harvest field so large that we need each other to reach that harvest. Not competitors.
So, my dear At-Home CEO, don’t worry if your growth is not as fast as you expect. Seasons change. Someday, your babies and business will grow, affording you the opportunity to apply all these success principles, hopefully not just by the world’s standards, but standards that allow you authenticity to your essence. Weigh every business counsel against your own reality and apply with wisdom.
There is more to say but let me stop here. I hope to write to you again, soon. Until then, all the best as you run your home, business and life, pressing for progress and balance in all things.
Your ‘bessfren’ and fellow At-home CEO,
PS: This article was first published on Bella Naija website in June 2018 but it works today still.