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Managing a small business when pregnant is like nurturing two babies simultaneously! How do women entrepreneurs cope with the challenges?
By Monalisa Saxena
I started PIXIGHTS – a research and consulting firm focused on visual media about a year back. It was an exciting time planning and developing the business, creating a brand and building something of my own. Around three months into all of this, I realised I was pregnant with my second baby.
While being completely ecstatic about it, there was a nagging worry at the back of my mind on how to manage my small business while I took a break for the delivery. This was especially difficult since it was essentially a one-woman team till then, with a bevy of freelancers pitching in. While there are hundreds of books guiding you on how to manage pregnancy, there are not many offering guidance to women entrepreneurs who are pregnant!
Now having gone through the process, the keyword is simple and obvious – lots of preparation and planning! The scenario is completely different in a corporate job where you need to plan on how your clients will be managed in the three – four months that you will be away. However once into the leave period, you don’t have to worry. When it’s literally and figuratively your own ‘baby’, you cannot leave the responsibility behind and more planning is required.
If you are lucky enough to have a more or less trouble free pregnancy like mine, it is always better to work till the end rather than keep anything pending till after the baby arrives – for starters you have no idea whether you are going to have a peaceful or noisy baby – each baby will have its own personality and quirks and managing it can only happen once he or she arrives! Also, it is much better to spend time with your little one rather than worrying about managing your small business.
The key elements needed for managing your small business when you are away would be:
1. Build a support team
Building an efficient support team that can face clients for at least a month before and four months post-delivery is essential. The hiring and training of the team needs to be a first priority for women entrepreneurs in order to make sure the business survives when you are not around!
2. Reassure clients
Clients that you developed on your personal equity will need to be prepared for your absence since that is the core of your business. They would need to be reassured that everything is in good hands.
3. Establish passive revenue streams
Since you are not getting maternity leave or support, financing the months that you are going to be out of action is a good idea. It could mean working more in your second or third trimester if you are feeling ok so that lesser business in those later critical months will not matter as much. This will help in creating passive revenue streams for the coming months.
4. Get support systems in place at home
On the home front also, the key is to hire help at least one or two months before the baby arrives to give yourself enough time to train them according to your requirements. This is the only way women entrepreneurs can get back to work without endless worrying!
5. When should you get back to work?
There is no real correct answer to this. If you have recovered from the delivery and are lucky enough to have efficient help on the home front, the best part of managing your own business is the flexibility it offers – so the answer is – anytime! You can start slow and then get back into the groove depending on your baby’s timings.
My baby is one month old now and I work half day – especially when she is sleeping and my three year old son is in school. I feel like I have retained some semblance of control and this enables me to continue building and developing my third baby!
What about you? Have you been in a similar situation where you had to cope with pregnancy when managing a small business? Do share in the comments section below. We’d love to hear the experiences of other women entrepreneurs too!
*Photo credit: Deborah Main (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)