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How to Balance Work and Family as a Small Business Owner

6-minute read

Balancing work and family as a small business owner can be challenging, but it's possible, as this mother and her child are discovering.
Pauline Germanos

Pauline Germanos

26 February 2019

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Ready for the understatement of the year? Being a parent is tough - and being a small business owner on top of that can feel like it’s almost impossible.

After all, you want to lead by example and run a successful business in order to supply shelter, food, an education, and some luxuries for your family. But you also want to be there for your family; they might be the reason why you started your small business in the first place.

That’s why the simple act to balance work and family can often feel so difficult. How do you ensure you’re paying attention to both equally? And what happens when one needs more attention than the other - how do you do that?

Balance Work and Family: Why It’s So Challenging for Small Business Owners

Balancing work and family can be tough with a normal 9 to 5 job. But as a small business owner, your day doesn’t start and stop on a strict schedule.

That’s especially true if you’re a sole proprietor or primarily responsible for running the business yourself. There’s a lot that’s demanding your time and attention, whether it’s planning out your work for the day or marketing to new customers (and let’s not even get into all the admin work).

Add all the responsibilities and work of being a parent on top of that, and it’s no wonder more small business owners are looking for answers on how to balance work and family.

The truth is, there’s no easy answer - what works for you might not work for others. But there are people out there who can offer much-needed advice and guidance to those who are struggling.

That’s why I decided to interview small business owners at Simply Business who have been in your shoes. I asked them questions about how they ran a business while raising young children, and how they did all that while still making time for the things they loved.

Plus, I’d like to think I’m bringing my own insight to this topic, but from the flip side of the coin. I grew up with both parents being entrepreneurs. One of them owned a restaurant, the other was more involved in marketing and creating customer retention-focused corporate collateral. Both were successful, and both had to spend a lot of time with their careers.

Though sometimes it was tough for me to understand their stresses as small business owners, I’ve been more inspired by their dedication to their passions and ability to make their dreams come true.

I’ve done a lot of research, I’ve spoken with Simply Business employees, and I’ve pulled some personal examples from my parents to make a list of best practices to balance work and family as a small business owner.

6 Tips to Balance Work and Family as a Small Business Owner

1. Don’t try to do everything.

If only you could be in two places at one time, life would be easier.

But the reality is, when you actually try to be in two places at once, things don’t get done and become incredibly difficult. By organizing your schedule to have dedicated time for your small business separate from time focused on your children, you can get a lot more done without compromising the quality of time spent.

For example, let’s say you’re going to a dance recital for your child, but you are just thinking about your next meeting with a potential investor — you’re not giving your best to your child. And it’s not like you can make yourself ready for the meeting while you’re watching a dance recital.

On the flip side, if you’re providing a service for a client and your focus is on missing your kid’s basketball game and wishing you could be there, your attention is taken away from giving your client your 100% presence. If this becomes a pattern, you could lose business from lack of quality in your services.

It also doesn’t help your kid to wish you were there when you are working.

When you trust that it’s OK to focus on one thing at a time, you get so much more done, and the quality of what you’re doing is improved tenfold.

2. Schedule work and parent responsibilities according to priority.

When you can see how you map out time during the week for both your role as a small business owner and a parent, it helps to remove guilt and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can to balance your time between work and family.

Simply Business’s VP of Commercial Strategy, Scott Aiello, emphasizes the importance of scheduling when you are a single parent.

He says, “Having a set schedule allows me to know exactly which days I can put in more time and which days I need to pick up or drop off, so it adds more organization to my schedule versus a traditional two-parent household.”

Communicating about your parenting duties’ schedule with fellow employees is also very important. Aiello adds, “I like how at Simply Business we can share our schedules with others so they can get a sense of any time blocks or out-of-office time.” Technology makes it easy to share calendars and contacts, so make sure you are taking advantage of that.

Naturally, there will be times when your small business asks more of you than your children and vice versa. There also will be either family emergencies or business emergencies that pop up. Mindfulness helps you to deal with the inevitable chaos and unexpected conflict that comes with being both a parent and a small business owner.

But having a schedule helps to remember that even with emergencies, you’re still on track and have a plan to keep things going.

3. Work from home when you can.

At Simply Business, employees have the option to work from home and create their own schedule. Of course, everyone shows up for their expected meetings, but a lot of parents at our company take advantage of this benefit. It helps to ensure that you can get work done, even if that means adjusting your hours on certain days.

There are some trades where you can’t work from home because you’re onsite at a client’s property, or they are at your office/storefront. But, when you know you have a day without any scheduled appointments and things are slow, take your work home to do any bookkeeping, checking inventory, or any other duties for your business.

As your kids get older, you can keep them busy with clubs and after school activities, but if you really just need to make sure they aren’t “home alone,” working from home while they are at home can be helpful from time to time. Just make it clear that you have to work and be in a space where you can focus.

4. Protect your family with business insurance.

I get it - business insurance may not immediately jump to mind when thinking about what it takes to balance work and family.

But here’s the deal: as a small business owner, it’s safe to say much of your family’s financial security probably rests on your shoulders. That means you need to take proper steps to make sure that your personal finances - aka your livelihood - is never impacted by a disaster, an accident, or even a customer who decided to sue you.

That’s where business insurance comes in. Insurance provides some financial protection for your family because it acts as a barrier between your money, and money you’d have to pay out to a vendor or customer due to a claim or lawsuit.

Let’s take a look at an example to help illustrate this point. Say you’re an accountant, and it's in the midst of tax season. You’ve been working hard and burning the candle at both ends, so it’s safe to say that you’re feeling really tired.

Unfortunately, that fatigue results in you making a major mistake on a client’s financial statement - but it’s not caught until the IRS reaches out to your client to let them know that they’re being audited. Your client is understandably furious. The audit is going to cost them time and potentially a lot of money, so in an effort to recoup that loss, your client decides to sue you for negligence.

Without business insurance, you would likely be financially on the hook for paying for your own lawyer, plus any resulting claims that may occur if you lost the lawsuit.

With business insurance, however, those costs would typically be covered by your policy; in most cases, you’d only need to pay out the cost of your deductible.

Which means, if you have a family, your business insurance could mean the difference between a minor financial annoyance and a major, life-altering financial loss.

Fortunately, it’s easy to get business insurance so you can start financially protecting your family. Just use our free quote comparison tool to see affordable policy options from top insurers. If you see something you like, just click to buy and boom - you’ll be on your way to being covered.

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5. Take a break from both roles.

Burnout is real, and your life is more than just your career and family. Make sure to include time for other passions and pleasures, even if they are simple activities.

It’s also important to make sure you spend time with friends or just be by yourself, so you feel like you have had time off from your two main jobs.

This is another reason to incorporate mindfulness into your regular routine — it allows you to center yourself, boost your mental health, and it provides some alone time. As a result, it helps you appreciate your job as an entrepreneur and parent even more.

5. Accept that you can’t do it all.

Humans tend to put a lot of high expectations on themselves and to prove that they can do everything. The truth is, no one can do everything, nor should they.

Here’s a great tip from Chris Grandoit, a former employee with Simply Business. He points out that it’s important to “give your kids the independence to get themselves ready by brushing their hair, picking out clothes, and packing their bags.” He further adds the emphasis of “making time to care for yourself and knowing you can’t do it all.”

Even though you are a small business owner with a slightly different schedule from parents with other careers, it’s important to remember that you’re still pretty much doing the same thing. Your kids will still grow and learn some things on their own. As long as you’re doing your best, everything will always turn out OK!

Balance Work and Family, and Continue to Inspire!

Even though you are a small business owner with a slightly different schedule from parents with other careers, it’s important to remember that you’re still pretty much doing the same thing. Your kids will still grow and learn some things on their own. As long as you’re doing your best, everything will always turn out OK! Sometimes balancing work and family comes down to being organized - and we can help there, too. Map out where your business is headed with our powerful goal-setting business plan - it’s FREE to download!

Free Business Plan Template

Get organized so you can spend more time with family. Download our FREE business plan template here!

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Pauline Germanos

Written by

Pauline Germanos

When she’s not writing for SB, Pauline runs an intuitive healing business... and is still writing as she types up psychic readings! As she was raised by entrepreneurs, she knows what it takes to be a small business owner.

Pauline writes on a number of topics such as small business owner resources, marketing, and customer service and retention.

This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer

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