8 Ways Being A Parent Has Helped Grow My Business
It’s the tail end of the summer holidays and I’m wondering what life will be like in a few days time without two endlessly-chattering kids underfoot. Quiet, no doubt. The cat will move back into the house. I can reclaim my desk from under its decorations of glitter, masterful drawings and takeaway pizza menus. And I can resurrect my “working from home” status from its current “mum is completely available to play/eat/read/listen to a litany of complaints, though she does tend to yell more often” label.
Despite spending the last 2 months full time with the little monkeys, I’ve managed a fair bit of work over this school break, including a new website, 4 corporate stories, 2 infographics, and a new logo and web redesign for myself. As well as numerous blog posts, blog and story research, about 300+ social media stories per week, my 2016-2017 business plan, end of financial year tallies… and about a thousand other things that go along with running your own business, and don’t magically stop for school holidays.
Believe it or not, there’s no way I could have done all this before I had kids. I simply wasn’t motivated enough. I had no appreciation of the value of time. It something you learn (far too late). But here’s why being a parent has made me a much better business owner…
1. I value time
I don’t waste time. If there’s a deadline to be met or an email to send, I do it. “Put the kids in the car!”, I yelled to my husband as I dashed off an email reply to a potential new client yesterday. Even the two minutes it took to write that email is valuable. I set the work train in motion and then I can take the kids out for a couple of hours knowing that my email is working for me.
2. I'm productive
I am way more productive than I ever was before kids. BK, I could happily spend an entire Saturday on the couch with a packet of chips and a Coke watching Buffy re-runs (yep, I’m that old). But these days, not only are such foods sadly banished from my house (setting a good example is such a drag), I cannot envisage ever having nothing at all to do. The brief window that a nap or iPad time allows is so precious. And that’s when I switch to work all-systems-go mode and power through a blog post or article draft in no time at all.
3. I can multi-task
I used to wish with a newborn that I had twice as many hands. Just an extra pair sprouting out at the sides to fold the laundry or cook the dinner. I could have achieved so much during those long breastfeeding hours. But when babies grow up, you’re even busier (and they’re even louder).
These days, I multitask like a pro. I write out 2 lists each day (work and personal). I schedule all my social media. I plan posts and story angles while I’m driving or before falling asleep; I edit articles at the playground; and use my coffee and lunch dates as blog research.
4. I'm super organised
There’s nothing like parenting to get a person organised. All those vaccinations, playdates, school schedules, assemblies, swimming classes homework, and dress up days - it’s mentally impossible for anyone to remember everything without writing it down. As evidenced by those 1 or 2 kids awkwardly wearing their school uniforms on Favourite Book Character day.
So too, with work, I’m super organised. I’ve developed email outlines for new, potential and past clients; I have web design and writing packages; and my step-by-step, 1-week design process is taped to my office wall. I have a Google work calendar that I print each month so I can see my deadlines, meetings and projects in one glance. It’s vital to ensuring everything gets done properly, and on time.
5. I'm flexible
My favourite time to work is actually in the evening, when the kids are sleeping and the house is quiet. I love opening the door and windows and listening to the wind and cicadas in the trees. This is often the time I write my blog posts, tinker with my website and make plans for the next few months. It’s this flexibility that really aids me as a working parent. BK, I’d spend this time watching TV with a glass of wine in hand. I still do that some nights of course (it sounds good right about now!) but being flexible with my hours means I've got a whole new window of work time.
6. I'm committed (in a good way!)
I get the job done - I’ve survived for years on sleepless nights, followed by very active days. It’s not fun but I get through it. And as any parent can tell you who’s sat up all night next to a feverish child, or been bombarded with questions and commentary from morning till night, it’s part and parcel of getting the job done. So, a last minute report or 2 day article turnaround? No problem, I’ll make the time for it. Best of all, the client isn’t likely to projectile vomit on me in the end.
7. I can work anywhere
My kids are chatterboxes. Though the conversation has become somewhat more sophisticated with age, they've never stopped talking, asking questions, squabbling, bossing, play acting and singing. Like, All. Day. Long. At least 60% of my participation only requires a "really?", "uh huh" "oh, wow" response which allows a fair bit of flexibility on my part. I'm also used to sharing my work space with important artworks, glitter glue and occasionally, cats. The good news? I don't need a library, or even a desk, to work in (though my 30-something back says otherwise).
8. I'm selfish
I’m not a yes man - though I used to be. Well, not a man (duh) but I used to take on everyone’s projects and problems. I don’t any more, I’m happy to say. I’m selfish about my business and my time, because it’s that important to me. I don’t say ‘yes’ to every project that comes along. I only take on the jobs that I want to do, that I’ll enjoy and can give my complete dedication to. Which is a win-win for me and my clients.
About the author: Lilani Goonesena is an Australian freelance writer, Squarespace web designer and blogger currently based in Vientiane, Laos. She loves helping freelancers and small businesses with web design and content, blogging and through her awesome weekly newsletter on digital marketing, social media, blogging, web design and "all that online stuff". She also writes food and travel articles for businesses and magazines, and blogs at the delectable Eat Drink Laos, just for fun.