Parenting and Small Business

I’m going to state the obvious.  It’s tough to run a small business and look after children.

I think though that it’s tougher to work for other people and still be a parent to your children.  What are the choices if you work for someone else?
It’s a given you will have to put your children into after or pre school care, unless you have the sort of employer who understands that you’re the only one who can do the job and will give you hours to suit.  But let’s face it, that’s not really a reality for most people is it?
You may not have much flexibility.
You may not be able to take the day off and be there if your child is sick.
And then how do you juggle the school holidays?
Equally, what do you do if you’re a single parent with no other help?

It’s not such an unreasonable request, you would think, to want the sort of job that will fit in with your kids and their lives.
My children get out of school at 2.25pm every day.  What sort of job fits in with that unless I take on something in the hospitality industry or work part time in a shop?  As a former escapee from hospitality myself, I certainly don’t have any desire to go back to working long hours for little return.  I want to work for myself.
The irony is, that people who work at home often work much longer hours than those that work in an office.  In fact, on average, 3-4 hours longer.  It seems that to work from home makes people more grateful to their employer for allowing that to happen.
But that’s a bit of a dream for most of us, which is why some start up their own small business from home.
This is why I opened my business.  I try to fit it in with the needs of my children, although sometimes, if I am delivering shots overnight, this doesn’t always happen, but I try.   We always sit down together for our evening meal, we all talk about our day, we all take that time to relax and be a bit silly.  I may of course go back for another two or three hours work after they’re in bed, but I try to do the majority of it when they’re at school.
Of course the downside of running your own business can be sudden lack of clients, or clients that don’t want to pay you on time, marketing that doesn’t work, jobs that don’t come to fruition after you’ve quoted etc.  The upside is the flexibility, the independence and the sheer pleasure in selling something that you’re good at.
But working for yourself is no dream job.  It’s hard work and in the end, it’s purely down to you on how well you do.
Someone recently said to me,

Run your business every day like your life depends on it and you’ll do ok‘.

I think that’s absolutely true.   If you sit back, waiting for the work to come to you, it’ll never happen.  If you have a business plan and you want to go for it, then it’s up to you to make it happen.

Someone else who took that opportunity is Rachelle Font, from Font Media Services, based in Richmond in the Hawkesbury area of NSW.

Rachelle was looking for a different direction which would allow her to still be around for her family and working from home seemed to be the ideal solution.  As a stay at home mum, she was searching for a way to ease the financial burden she knew her husband was carrying.
Since giving birth to her daughter 10 years previously, she’d only worked part time, with extremely unsociable hours and poor pay, something that many women with children can relate to.

An interview with a careers advisor at Richmond TAFE set her on the path.  After 6 months, she realised she’d found her new path as a web designer and opened her business in 2007.   It’s been growing ever since with clients based locally, through to Sydney and even back in the UK.
They cover services such as website design, e-commerce, website hosting, SEO, logo design, business card design.  Not only does Rachelle cover your online needs, but she can provide your stationary too.

Rachelle says that her business grew by ‘word of mouth’, something that can make or break a business, but it’s her belief in serving her clients with great value for money which has won her more and more work.

I feel very strongly about giving great value for money and I base Font Media Services around this belief, and it seems my clients approve!  The business has now been up and running for 3 years and is going from strength to strength. ~ Rachelle Font of Font Media Services.

Rachelle has become so successful in her business that she’s ended up teaching the very classes at TAFE that she originally learnt her skills in!
Many people know Rachelle for her good humour, unflappable manner, great service and ability to deal with anything which comes up.
Amazing how following a course at TAFE has taken her in a whole new direction.

 I now find myself with two jobs, both of which have child friendly hours!   My future plans for the business are pretty standard really… I’d like to see it continue to grow to the point where my husband no longer has to work overtime, and we can enjoy more of the family time we love so much.  That’s not too much to ask for is it?! ~ Rachelle Font

The thing is, she saw a gap, retrained and filled it and you can do that too.

There are thousands of really smart, intelligent women here in the Blue Mountains and surrounding areas who want to work from home and still be there for their children, but they don’t know how to start.  As an area, I believe we are under-resourced for helping women set up their own businesses and this needs to be addressed.
Small business is the lifeblood of an economy and here in NSW, small business is what keeps us all going.  Without those services to cater for those that live here, then there is nothing.

Some resources for you:

NEIS: Learn how to start your own business through the New Enterprise Initiative Scheme.

Work At Home Mums is a superb resource for all women looking to work from home whilst looking after children.  They’re a non scam organisation, promoting real work opportunities for real people which you can do from home, working for yourself or for others.

Women in Business sends out the world’s best newsletter!  Check out their blog. (Also on Facebook) is your gateway to all things business in Australia.  Brilliant!

TAFE NSW – your portal for flexible learning.