When my husband and I started our eCommerce businesses, it was primarily so that we could travel, spend more time with each other, and eventually be able to spend our time with our family should we ever have one. Last year we finally made the decision to start a family, and before we knew it,we were pregnant with our first.
I guess like many new parents, being pregnant was kind of surreal. It didn’t really hit us about how much our life was about to change, but it still gave us the kick we needed to really start systemising our business processes, and train our team of staff and contractors to the level where our businesses could run without us. We’ve always been pretty big on outsourcing and making sure our businesses weren’t reliant on us, but there are always “little things” that need to be done that just seem to painful to train someone else to do. I’m also a very hands on person, and am probably a bit too much of a micro-manager for my own good.
Once our little bundle of joy finally came along (little Luke!), I’m not sure how prepared I was for the instant change where I went from being an entrepreneur to being a milk machine. I’m quite fortunate that my husband is home to be able to help, but he does lack the required equipment when it comes to the feeding. I also started feeling quite disconnected from our businesses on top of the new surge of post birth hormones. This left me rather emotional and uncertain about who I was now as a person (mum versus entrepreneur) and how was I ever going to handle/balance both! At around the six week mark, I really wanted to start getting back into business building mode and started to think about how to make this happen, without feeling guilty about not giving all my focus to our new baby boy (since I seemed to feel guilty about every move I made!).
What I’ve found though, is that our businesses are continuing to run and grow just fine without me, and that I’m (mostly) okay with that. My husband and I are back to being able to have daily strategic planning sessions (often while breast feeding or changing nappies) about what’s next, while our wonderful team help make it happen. Just this small connection with the business has made me feel as though I am still an entrepreneur and a mum. I will admit that I am still a bit in “withdrawal” about getting into our warehouse and annoying our team there, as I love handling our products and watching our new lines as they come in, but I’m hoping our “little interruption” helps me to step back and see the big picture in developing our business. I’d be lying if I said everything was perfect though, as often we’ll start a meeting, and then “someone” decides to start wanting attention, and our plans can go out the window. This can get pretty frustrating at times, but I guess it goes with the territory now! It only takes a gummy grin and small gurgle to make every distraction and minute away from the business worthwhile.
Overall I think having a baby will be very positive for our business. It’s still taking some getting used to, as we’re having to learn how to work with our new dynamic at home as well as with our businesses and with our team. It’s made me realise that our businesses are very much like babies. When they are born, they are usually very reliant on you for everything. But as they grow and mature, you have to teach them what they need to know to become more self reliant, so that they can grow without you (and for someone like me, cutting the apron strings is hard!). Finding the right people is incredibly important, and we are very much of the opinion that you should create systems for your business that are so clear, and so well thought out that just about anyone can follow them. This way you can hire employees or contractors based on their attitude instead of their skillset. I can’t tell you how much better you can sleep at night when you actually respect and like everyone you deal with each day.
If I could go back and change anything, it would be to make sure we had even better systems and training in place well before the baby was born. I guess I thought that I might have at least a few seconds to spare each day after Luke arrived, but in reality, your whole brain space seems to get taken up by this little bundle that has invaded your life. When all is said and done though, I am embracing and love the move from entrepreneur to mumpreneur, and I love my babies – all of them!
Tessa Hartnett is a Brisbane based Entrepreneur who started her first online business with her husband in 2006. Since then she has started mensringsonline.com.au, foreverfascinators.com.au, maskshq.com.au, bowtiehq.com.au and hammockhq.com.au. She was also selected to be Alibaba.com’s Female Ambassador in 2012, and has spoken about ecommerce at conferences in Australia, China and Malaysia. She and her husband have spent the last few years living in New Zealand, Thailand and Australia, and have just welcomed their first baby into the world.