How to run a business whilst raising a child


Running a business and raising a child simultaneously can feel like an impossible task at times. Both jobs are very similar; both require dedication, time, and a lot of trial and error along the way.

Stephanie Douglas, founder of Don’t Buy Her Flowers, and a mother to two small kids told us: “You can't run a business and do everything you did before. As much as I hate to say it, I think this is particularly pertinent for mothers. With kids, there's always a curveball to consider.”

So, what should you consider? 

You are very important. Look after yourself!

Raising a child is not a nine to five job, neither is running a business. No one can work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It just isn’t possible.

Mrs Douglas told us: “I've seen so many women trying to start a business because they want the flexibility to be around for their children, but running a business is consuming. Unless you want to burnout very quickly, you have to let some stuff go. It might sound trivial but it's so important. Sometimes it feels like we've not quite caught up with what that means for our lifestyle and how we (as parents and business owners) manage that pressure.”

It is important to remember that wellbeing is usually listed last on a business owner’s priority list. It may even be forgotten once you throw a child into the mix. So how can you take better care of yourself?

Schedule some time for yourself daily

Allowing yourself to take some time to reflect and unwind, once a day, is key to keeping a level head. Use this time to become involved in activities that you really enjoy, with no pressure as to how well you perform them, or how accomplished you are. Mrs Douglas advises: “Adrenalin is a good motivator, but sometimes you need to reclaim an evening on the sofa back for yourself.”

Take a holiday

If your schedule allows it, give yourself some time off from running your business, it can help you refocus your energy. Understandably, many parents cannot take ‘time off’ from their children, but taking away half of your daily tasks will release a lot of stress, allowing you to return to work refreshed and invigorated. 

Consider your health

Your health is important. As you are running around organising everything, you may not even notice the little warning signs your body is telling you to slow down. A check up with your GP is recommended yearly, but this is especially true for small business owners and parents who are used to putting everything and everyone before themselves, and even their health.

Set boundaries

Setting boundaries between your time with your children and your work can be difficult at first, but once you establish this, it will lead to better clarity in both areas of your life. Little changes, such as; no work after 7pm to focus on the children and sticking to your business to-do list during working hours will, over time, allow you to stay present in the moment and keep you focused on the task ahead.

Setting boundaries with others by learning how and when to say ‘no’ is crucial. By giving realistic deadlines to others, non-urgent impending tasks can be sidelined whilst you focus on what is important in the present.

Plan for the unexpected

You cannot plan for the unexpected to happen, but rethinking the way you approach these situations can help you.

Mrs Douglas said: “I had just left my previous job, and I was ready to set the business world alight. Then my daughter was sent home sick from nursery for five days. It was frustrating, these are the type of moments when it's worth remembering, this isn't life or death. Feeling annoyed won’t get you anywhere. I found a way around it by working those five days while she slept, so fortunately I lost no time.”

Dealing with the unexpected in a productive way benefits both your business and your child. Remaining calm gives you the chance to de-escalate the situation before it becomes a problem for your wellbeing and for your business and child. 

Don’t feel guilty

There is only so much you can do in a day. Guilt of never doing enough can overcome those taking on parenting and running a business.

Mrs Douglas said: “Getting started is a big challenge for anyone. It’s hard to know when to take the leap. My friend Ben Jones (one of the founders at Graze.com) said to us 'when you're 70% sure of something, do it'. Once your business is live you can improve your services and learn about your customers, but if you wait until everything is perfect you'll never do it.”

It is crucial for business owners to set goals. Having children, milestones in their lives may come a little more naturally, but keep in mind that missing targets in either part of your life does not make you bad at what you do. Overcoming hindrances in your life will motivate you and shape your business and parenting style over time. No one is perfect, and multitasking is a skill that doesn’t always end in a 100% success rate.

Mrs Douglas tells us: “I'm learning that I need to remind myself what success looks like, and for me, a part of that is running my business to the best of my abilities but, also, to have availability for my kids.”

Written on in Business Insights