It’s coming up to Mothers Day again and I thought it timely to share some thoughts as a “business owner” mum. Every mum can be called a working mum. After all, when was cleaning, cooking and caring not classified as “work”.
When a woman then adds a paid job away from home to her portfolio, she gets stretched in such a way that requires her to balance those hours away from the home to still fit in all the required hours at the home.
When you step up again to the next level and become a business owner while being a mum, there’s a whole different level of attention that is required from a woman. A business owner is not a 9 to 5 job after all. And it’s not a Monday to Friday commitment either. Every business owner, male or female, knows that to own and operate a business, it takes a level of commitment that effectively has no off button. This can cause those home hours to be thinned out or watered down very quickly.
When I first bought into the accounting practice, my new business partner warned me that it will be different being the owner verse being the employee. He was mostly talking about the business side of the deal. What he couldn’t tell me about was the difference it was going to make on my family as a mum. From my perspective, most business owner men have a wonderful woman at home taking care of the family so they don’t have the compelling need to “switch on” to home duties when they get home. This can cause greater complexity in their relationship of course, but that’s for another time.
Now I’ve been very lucky or as I prefer to believe, blessed, in my journey as a business owner when it comes to my family. It is a privilege to have a strong family network around you and that has been the backbone to my success. I feel for those families who try and do the raising of a child on their own. Family or friends support in any way is paramount. It was Hillary Clinton who said it takes a village to raise a child, but I believe this to be a proverb of the African culture as well.
Growing up as a child of a business owner I understood how important it was to balance the whole family atmosphere with the demands of the business from the beginning. My first important rule has been that wherever possible, a parent be available to pick up the children from school and be there for them in those formative years. Their homework is just as important as my client needs after all. It’s all about communication with them and that first drive home to me is their chance to share about their day.
The second rule has been balancing their meals. As business owners we can tend to be pulled away at these important times. Or we can tend to let our busyness take us away from providing good quality food. So wherever possible I’ve always tried to provide a home packed lunch after a good breakfast and finished the day off with a home cooked meal. But let’s be honest, this doesn’t happen every day. I seem to manage the breakfast and lunch consistently, but home cooked meals every week night isn’t always possible. The key to delivering any evening meal is to share it together as it’s another opportunity to communicate. I know how much my kids miss me at night if for some reason I can’t be there, so this becomes a priority. I’d rather come home and eat with them, then go back early the next morning to do the catch up.
Attending school events has also been an important factor in balancing the work and family life. The benefit of being an owner does give me the flexibility of achieving this rule. But there have been times when the client needs have taken priority over one or two of these events over the years. This rule is easing off as the kids get older, but I find the activities have just moved to being outside school times now.
I’ve always maintained that my role in life in the order of importance is in the order I go throughout my day. I first wake up with my husband so my first role is as a wife. I then attend to the needs of the children so my next most important role is as a mother. I then attend the office and the needs of my team and then my clients so my next important role is as the business owner and then as the accountant.
As business owners we can sometimes think our most important role in life is that as the owner and provider of the services of our business. But if things don’t go so well at the business, we will always have a family behind us to support us if we treat them well first.
My family is the most important thing in my life and always will be. When the business role in my life is complete, I will be left with my family who I have supported and nurtured throughout the whole life journey. If you don’t nurture your family throughout your business life, you run the risk of losing the most important people in your life. As mums we can tend to do this a little better than the dads, but we have to just be as careful and not take it for granted.
So this Mothers day I give a big shout out to the business owner mums of the world. They have the nurturing role not only at home but can also have it in their business for their team and clients. This can pull them in many directions in a day let alone in a week. When they get the balance right, success can be their fortune at both locations.
© Munro Accountants 2013