A good friend of mine recently decided to launch a business and we were chatting about how hard it is to put yourself out there – especially when we do not have all the time in the world to dedicate to the new venture because we are so busy with our first priority, our children.
She was questioning if she should even go ahead with it, and I started to remember having all the same feelings right before I launched my own website MomentsADay.com. Being vulnerable is necessary for growth, but that definitely doesn’t mean it’s easy (or fun).
I launched MomentsADay.com in May 2013 and over the past 3+ years I have built a resource and community here that I could never have envisioned beforehand. I have sold ebooks, pitched proposals, flown to events in several cities around Australia, written sponsored material, attended conferences (one on land and one in a cruise ship), served on panels live and on the radio, given presentations and more.
Behind the computer screen, however, even more has been going on to allow me to take these opportunities. I have had to learn new technical skills, figure out how to do things like branding and representing myself as a professional, de-code and sign contracts, take care of taxes, communicate with clients, respond to negativity online, manage a ton of social media accounts, and the list goes on and on…
Looking back, I see that I have not only learned a lot about creating my own business model and taught myself a ton of new skills, but I have also learned about myself. I never knew I was competent in most of these tasks or skills but, in the end, I just went ahead and gave it a go. Because of that, I have grown as a person as well as a mother.
For my friend and for other mothers who might be dreaming and/or planning to start their own business, here are a few character traits to focus on which I hope might help you in your new venture:
We remind our kids to be courageous when they try new things, but how many times do we think about practicing this virtue ourselves? Reflecting on the past few years I realise that I have had to practice courage in so many instances – whether it was publishing an article close to my heart, charging a fee for the first time, or stepping out of my comfort zone in the literal sense by meeting new people. Yes, I felt nervous. Yes, I sometimes lost sleep at night. But I chose to have faith in myself, knowing I might make mistakes along the way, and decided to treat each opportunity as a learning experience.
I often have to get clear with my goals in order to figure out where to spend my time and energy. When you only have so much time after the kids go to bed, it is important to spend it wisely. I have gotten into the habit of writing short and long term visions for each year, and then I create short-term task lists based on these visions. It is so much easier to stay positive and focussed when you have your purpose constantly in mind.
Working from home doesn’t always lend itself to productivity. I have found that these practices help: get dressed each day; make a work space for yourself, even if that means a bedside table with a dedicated area for your laptop; don’t give excuses that are not real but only on your mind; order business cards; pay for someone to help you when you need it. Basically treat yourself like an important employee and hold yourself to the standards you would expect of someone else.
“For the first year working full-time on my business, I would allow emotional days with my family impact my work greatly. The harder the day, the least productive I was and this was not great for my passion or energy over all. So, I found that discipline isn’t just showing up to do the work, but also having the willpower to create systems that keep me on track — rather than always waiting for the creative muse to strike!”
– Shawn Fink, author of 10 Habits of Highly Effective Mamas
Comparison is the thief of joy. We will all have set backs. I haven’t done everything perfectly but that’s life! We all have to live and learn. Don’t give up just because something isn’t going your way or you get stuck along the way. Find a way to make it work or reassess your goals to see if you are headed in the direction you want to be going.
This one is important, especially in the online world when it is hard to establish “real” relationships. Treat others how you want to be treated. If it’s your fault, apologise. Ask for permission to use anyone’s content – whether it’s a picture, an idea, or some words. A lot of online business comes down to a new art of social skills and customer service through the computer screen. Notice what you appreciate in others and give that to your clients and customers.
This one is nearly always easier said than done. Believe in yourself. Invest in yourself. Take time to educate yourself. Take yourself seriously. Trust your decisions. Use positive self-talk to get through hard times. Complete your work with a positive attitude. Don’t put yourself down, even passively. Create a place to keep encouragement letters and messages. Remember why you started. Change things when they aren’t working.
Not everything is going to come together at once so it is imperative to find balance in your daily routine. Make step by step plan and learn to appreciate the process… sometimes it’s a long one. Celebrate your milestones and remember that a garden doesn’t grow overnight. Be patient with yourself and your business as you both grow.
A lot of mothers are super hard on themselves. But please, treat yourself fairly. Don’t expect to do everything on a few hours of sleep. Care for your body so your mind will be more focused. Eat healthy and exercise, too. You know, all that self-care stuff.
This is your business as well as your life, they cannot be separated. Yes, there are things that have to be done – a business is usually set up to generate income, after all – but there are also a lot of choices to make and many different paths you can follow. You will know how to practice authenticity when the opportunity arises, if you always remember to be true to yourself.
Never forget to be grateful. For yourself, for your family, for everyone who helps you along the way. It is just one virtue that makes everything – even a business – better.
I recently had a guest post published on Problogger.com outlining some of the specific working practices I try to maintain in my own life, which might also be interesting to read if you are starting your own business from home.
Have you started your own business? What character traits have been the most important for your success?