If you want it to succeed and if you’re willing to work hard, there’s a clear strategy around beginning your own business and working from home. The process is similar if you want to do it with children in the mix. Or is it?
Sarah O’Bryan (pictured above), business owner and author of Business & Baby at Home (Finch), provides you with the pointers you need to skirt the common mistakes and start your business and your family on top.
It doesn’t matter whether you have kids or not. The ingredients for building a business at home remain similar – strategy and hard work. What changes when children enter the mix is the environment.
“You no longer own your day,” explains author and business woman Sarah O’Bryan, who has run a graphic design business for 11 years now from her home.
“You can plan what you want to achieve, what your objectives are, but with kids you have to remain flexible. You have to be open to reworking your day at a moment’s notice,” says the mother of three, the youngest of whom is three months old.
The big misconception, she believes, is that you must be a Supermum to work from home with kids.
“Like Superman, Supermum is not real. Sometimes you’re going to bite off more than you can chew and then you’re just going to have to chew like crazy.
“It’s a lot of work being a mum. In my experience working from home successfully means making sure you’re doing something about which you are passionate. To work the hours needs motivation and determination. To do that you have to love what you’re doing because that’s the only way it will get your attention among the million other things on in your day.”
Over the years there’s been a revolution in the way the traditional workplace views working from home. The reaction when Sarah first told her colleagues all those years ago that she was going to start her own business at home was one of shock, and for many years she glossed over telling clients where her office was: “I would rarely if ever have meetings in my own space. Now, clients want to see where I work and experience the studio.”
As more and more mumpreneurs have established themselves, solving the dilemma of being there for their children as well as being able to contribute to the household budget, old attitudes about work have changed.
“Work is almost a form of escapism for me,” says Sarah.
“I love that I can go to this world that has order - away from the chaos - where jobs get ticked off and everything is in its place. It’s also the reality for most people that there needs to be two incomes.”
Exploding the myths
Myth: Baby Brain.
There’s a 30-fold increase in progesterone in the first trimester which makes most women really, really, sleepy, according to research. It could be part of why the term “baby brain” has come about. In the third trimester women have been found to have increased attention spans. This has been called “neuronal nesting”.
“I am not keen on the term ‘baby brain’,” explains Sarah, “especially when it’s thrown at me in a professional situation. If you weren’t pregnant or the mother of a newborn and you forgot something everyone would just get on with it. It’s a bit unfair, really.
“My strategy is back your-self. For me that means being ridiculously organised with work in progress reports that I continuously update, and emails. If, for whatever reason, I suffer a break in concentration, email checking is a simple, effective backup tactic.”
Myth: the assumption that working from home is not a real job.
“The reality is: it’s a real job in which you are making real money and have real responsibilities. Like any job, you have to be professional; you have to behave as you would in an office.”
Myth: having your own business is easier than working for someone else.
“Sometimes, it is simpler, but then you have to stay determined and motivated and you have to do that on your own, not through workplace initiatives or feedback or performance review or whatever. You are also the frontline, the backline, the mid line. It’s not always easy.”
Business & Baby at Home (Finch) by Sarah O’Bryan is available as an ebook from Amazon (Kindle readers), the iBookstore (iPad, iPodTouch and iPhone readers) and KoboBooks (www.kobobooks.com), which supports most other types of eReaders such as Kobo, Nook, Sony, etc. The paperback is $29.99 and the ebook is $9.99. There are links to purchase all editions from the publisher’s webpage: http://www.finch.com.au/books/business-baby-home