I am woman hear me roar – sometimes the roar ends up being a miaw when life hits these chapters.
Whether you are a new business owner starting out or an established one, there are times in life that throw a spanner in your nicely laid out plans for your business.
If life is playing nicely these events occur spaced apart at different times (wouldn’t it be nice if life was always like that) and sometimes a couple all happen at once!
Having experienced a lot of these below and watched other women in business manage through these chapters, the same obstacles keep popping up over and over again. And even though we are all individuals, we are all living the book of life and some chapters are a certainty!
New baby. It doesn’t matter how well organised you usually are, your new baby does not know your routine and certainly knows nothing about sticking to your routine in the beginning.
Baby wasn’t sent the memo! First time mums have to deal with many unknown diversions and throw in some possible health issues (baby’s or mums)this can cause major upheavals to your family and business life. Differing emotions around guilt, anxiety and financial strains can surface. Get support of understanding family and friends! Finding a sense of humour and learning that tomorrow is another day is important. This is a time when a lot of working/corporate women at home on maternity leave start to think about starting a business to accommodate lifestyle choices. Be careful as some women self-sabotage at this stage with unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved and think they are not as good as they should be. Reality checks are required at this stage to reassure mum is doing fine and the lesson to learn here is letting go of expectations. Every child is different and life will never be the same! Some days are going to work well, and others will be challenging. Time to ask for help if you are not sure about something.
Child Starts School. The perception is this should be an easy chapter as you are going to have all this ”free time” to work on your business. As well as keeping the household running like a “well-oiled machine” *cough cough*, you now are adding to your busy calendar all the extra school activities for your child, pressure to become involved in school life, school mums and more. Add to this mix the emotions of mother’s guilt, juggling business meetings , school drop offs, pick-ups and extra-curricular activities plus creating a happy home means this new life is usually a shock to the system. Many business owners struggle the first 3-6 months until new routines are sorted. Be prepared. That child free time whilst the kids are at school will just fly by and many mums work late at night to catch up. Sleep deprivation is still an issue at this stage. Are we having fun yet??
Year of the HSC (High School Certificate) If your child struggles with pressure (or maybe you do), some women decide to take more of a back seat in their business during a HSC year. It all depends on the young adult of course and quite often the parent is more stressed than the child and exacerbating problems at home. (yes YOU could be the culprit too!)
Worried that your child is studying too hard and not looking after themselves or that they are not studying as much as expected, the pressure of this year is huge. Finding out whether your son or daughter gets into their career choice can be a lengthy process that sees many business owners withdraw from their support networks during this year. Friends need to keep an eye on them to remind them that this too shall pass. Anxiety can be the big challenge here for some and how they manage their own expectations of their child’s HSC year without letting their business slide too much is a challenge for some.
Relationship problems. This can happen at any time and usually one of two things happen. The owner withdraws from the world and concentrates on their business like they never have before. They become super focused as now the income from the business has to sustain the family or themselves. Or the owner totally loses direction as they try to recover from the damage left behind. Either way, it is important for understanding friends and family to support the owner where necessary and for the owner to reach out as well. The business can be at a huge risk at this stage, either because owners are fighting over it or the owners totally lose interest. Reach out to friends and supportive family members. Too many emotions here to mention, your business can be a great distraction and motivation at this time.
Heath Issues/Death in the family. Nobody can anticipate health issues that are going to happen. Whether chronic or repairable, there comes a time when you realise that you are not bullet proof and neither is your family/friends. This chapter is about realising that life is shorter than you think. When a death occurs, whether expected or not, many owners find they can distract themselves in their work (for a while) but somewhere down the track (sometimes years later) the grief can resurface if not resolved. The business owner sometimes changes business directions at this phase and sometimes decides to close it down completely. A time when a business owner can hit extreme exhaustion especially when they have been the carer. Rash decisions are easy to make at this stage in the need to “get things done” and sometimes waiting can be the best solution as answers do surface once the mind has rested.
This period can be challenging as unhealthy coping mechanisms can surface. Heavy drinking is one I see often at this stage and close friends and family need to keep an eye out for it.
Age of Transition This stage can start early for some owners and later for others and if you add in menopause, possible retirement, moving home, upheaval in your life is an understatement at this stage. For some owners this is exciting and for others it is challenging. Some owners have a succession plan for their business, others wind their businesses right back. Lack of energy can happen easily.Transition periods in our life usually contain a mixture of emotions. Excitement and anticipation of the future plus sadness at letting go the past and maybe even your previous identity. A sense of security and a place in the world is important at this stage. Support from friends is very important at this stage and can be challenging if you decide to move away from your support systems. As in all these chapters, looking after you is vital and everyone should find something that works for them. Energy levels always fluctuate.Some women struggle with their new “grandma” titles “I’m too young to be a grandmother” is a phrase often whispered to me. Some cannot wait! Many owners who decide to work less hours start up a creative class or two and make the decision that life is for living and experiencing and not always working.
We all know this stuff, but you never know how it’s going to affect you until you get to the chapter itself.
All I know is that women are incredibly resilient, when you suddenly have something unexpected happen you don’t have to do it alone. There are many women ahead of you who have already read your chapter and are further along in the book and they are doing well.
“If my ship sails from sight, it doesn’t mean my journey ends, it simply means the river bends.” Enoch Powell