Do What You Can
How do you run a business with small children?
When do you work?
Do you ever sleep?
HOW DO YOU DO IT ALL?
I hear these questions all the time. There's no easy answer, and honestly, the answer can change based on the day, my mood, and my schedule. But one thing is for sure. I do not do it all. I simply do what I can.
I started my first business when I was pregnant with my son Bennett, our third child. Whenever I had a few moments (which with 2 toddlers running around, was very little!), I'd sit down and do a few things. And then when the girls would go to bed at night, I'd really get down to work. I did what I could when I had the time to. My house was a mess (still is), and I didn't get out as much (still don't), but those were not my priorities at the time (still aren't!). My priorities were my family and my business, so that's where I spent my time.
I started Magnolia Marketing Group two and a half years ago, and it didn't start out as a full-time job. I didn't have the client load that demanded it, but I also didn't have the time for it! My oldest was in school full time, but my two youngest were in half-day preschool a few days a week, so my working hours were still limited. So when they were all in school, I was a machine. That was my dedicated work time and I maximized it to the best of my capabilities. And now that they are all in school full time (3rd grade, 1st grade, and pre-k), I work from the moment I drop them off until the moment I pick them up. I wear my mom hat with a servant heart, happily and proudly, until they go to bed, when I pull out my laptop again and either keep working or take a bit of a break! It's a lot of work and I do a lot, but I have arrived in the season of motherhood in which I can devote more time to my business. My children are in school all day and are not directly demanding all of my attention like they were when they were at home with me. But even then, when I was working strictly nap times and late nights, I didn't fight the constraints of my time while I was trying to establish my business. I simply worked within them. I grew slowly, and gradually, but grew nonetheless.
In my entrepreneurial and small business journey thus far, I have never had endless amounts of time to devote to my business. My children, husband, and family have always (and will always) come first. But what I lack in time, I make up for in drive, passion, determination, persistence, and dedication. I set my priorities and set my goals, and then use whatever time and other resources I have to reach them. I spend my time on the things most important to me, which have always been my family and our businesses, and then given myself grace in other aspects of my life. I certainly don't do it all! I have sacrificed in areas so I can dedicate more time and energy to the ones most important to me. I'm still learning and I'm certainly no expert on the matter, but balancing it all boils down to just doing what you can when you can.
I think a lot of people think that you have to have a lot of time to start your own business, and that's just not true. What you need to start your own business is a mission, a passion, goals, priorities, and some time. Like this insightful quote from Arthur Ashe says, start where you are. Even if you're in a season of toddlers and diapers, and you don't have much time for a shower, let alone a business, that's okay! You're not going to be running a Fortune 500 overnight. It's a place to start. Then you can grow as slowly or as quickly as you're able. And even if you only have a few naptimes to get work done, then use what you have. It's amazing what you can get done in a small amount of time on a laptop in the corner of your bedroom when you have a good to-do list, and you can plan and prepare! And if you're anything like me, and work better under pressure and with a deadline anyway, that time will become enormously productive. Still feel overwhelmed? Like you'll never get it all done? You're right. You never will! So just do what you can. Forward progress, no matter how slow, is still growth! Use the time and resources you have, wherever you are in your journey, in your season, in your life, and just do what you can. If you're crossing off a few tasks each day or writing a blog post a week or cold calling 200 businesses a month, just do what you can. Progress will come. More dedicated work time will come. And if at the end of each day you can tell yourself that you truly did what you were capable of doing that day, then that's success! And you are well on your way to growing that business and reaching those goals.
So the answers to those questions?
How do you run a business with small children? With a lot of planning, time management, organization, and GRACE.
When do you work? From 8:30-3:00 while the kids are at school. Then again from 7:30 until I go to bed (usually about midnight).
Do you ever sleep? Haha, only because I have to! But yes, I sleep from about midnight until 6 am.
How do you do it all? I don't. I simply do what I can.