Top tips for ‘parentpreneurs’

Juggling running a business and a family can put parents under a lot of pressure, especially during the school holidays, but there are ways to make life easier.

MYOB’s New Zealand General Manager and mother of two, Carolyn Luey, says being a parent who works full time motivates you to be better organised at the office and at home.

“Let’s not sugarcoat it – I know first-hand that juggling young children and a full-time career is hard. But, it is also extremely rewarding,” she said.

“Business operators who are parents not only strive for the financial freedom that comes with a good income, but they want the ability and flexibility to spend time with their families.”

MYOB’s latest Business Monitor Survey of 1,013 SME operators across New Zealand reveals 36 percent define business success as the “flexibility to do what they want”, such as spending time with family, travelling or pursuing other activities.

In contrast, only 11 percent define business success as making a good profit.

Emily Richards, mother of two and director of Dunedin-based recruitment agency Human Connections Group, said while challenging, being a parent and running a business go hand in hand if you have the right mindset.

“It is all about understanding the needs of your children and the needs of your business, and then being able to prioritise your time effectively,” she said.

“And there’s not much time to slack off or do a bad job. I have two little people who rely on me to earn the money needed to give them a good life.”

READ: Work-life balance — design your perfect business!

Richards said she had the benefit of working in a “very child friendly office”, something she said has been invaluable.

“In previous roles that I’ve had, and with managers who didn’t have children, there was a lack of understanding for the responsibilities that come with being a parent, and the impact school holidays can have on one’s work life,” she said.

In fact, in her role as a recruitment specialist, Richards said she’s seen a rise in job-hunters placing more value on flexible work hours than higher salaries.

“For parents, flexibility is worth more than money any day of the week,” she said.

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Richards said the key to surviving being a ‘parentpreneur’ was to make sure not to extend yourself too thin.

“We need to be careful not to adopt the ‘running parent syndrome’, where we put all the responsibility of raising our children and all the responsibility of running a business onto one plate – because it never stops,” she said.

“It’s also really important to remember that it’s not the end of the world if you miss an important meeting because of your child.

“Never be embarrassed that you’re a busy parent. You’re not making up excuses, you’re asking for understanding and empathy – and a majority of people are decent enough to give you that.”

Our top five tips for parentpreneurs

1. Accept that not everything will be perfect

“As parents, we need to avoid the guilt that comes with dropping everything for our jobs, and equally, the pressure we feel when we drop work for our children.” Luey said.

2. Be prepared and organised

“Have a shared family calendar online or on-the-wall and include details like work meetings, when you’ll be travelling for work, your kids play dates, birthday parties or parent-teacher interviews,” said Luey.

“Another way to stay ahead is to prepare as much as you can in advance. Meals and clothes can be made ready beforehand so you’re not rushing at peak times.”

3. Leave work at work

“As hard as it can be, try to leave work at work. If you have to work at home, do it in a space that is designated to work – like the study or a room that you can close the door on when you’re done,” said Luey.

4. Communicate

Luey said the key to being a parentpreneur was to make sure you communicated what you needed clearly, and to not be afraid to ask for help.

“If you’re someone who doesn’t work for themselves, don’t be afraid to have an open discussion with your boss about flexible working hours – there is never any shame in asking,” said Luey.

5. Utilise the technology at your fingertips

“The internet allows us to do just about anything from anywhere. If you’re able to do your grocery shopping online, order them on supplier websites to save time,” said Luey.

“Pay bills and organise your finances with online accounting tools.

“MYOB has worked alongside Kiwi businesses for more than 25 years and the best feedback we get is from parents who use us to save time at work, which they can spend with their kids.”