I’m willing to bet that if you are a small business owner and reading this article you have, at some point, worked in an office. If you are now operating your business out of your home you know that there are challenges, particularly staying focused. Adding a new family member to the picture can cause further complications. Seeing as we have experience with this, here are my suggestions for working at home with a newborn.
Nap time = Meeting Time – We have been very fortunate with our newest addition. Our daughter takes regular morning naps starting at about 9:30. Conveniently, I have been able to schedule many of my client calls at 9:30 or 10:00, so that my time talking to them is not interrupted.
While I understand this is easier said than done, try to get your newborn into a schedule as quickly as possible. I know any routine could fly out the window as soon as you think you have it down, however if you see a pattern starting try to work with it. While we have the 9:30am morning nap routine down (knock on wood), on any given night we are usually up anywhere between 2 and 7 times. (Yawn)
Mother’s Helper – If you are not as fortunate as we are seeing as we have Mom AND Dad working full-time at home, hiring a mother’s helper can be a HUGE stress relief. College students make great helpers because not only are they older that the typical high school babysitter, but they are (hopefully) more mature and experienced around children.
You may be concerned about the cost of hiring a mother’s helper, but consider this… If you are able to bill a client $20+/hour, and only have to pay a helper $10/hour, you are making $10/hour you wouldn’t have been able to make otherwise (with a crying, screaming baby). In addition, a mother’s helper doesn’t require you to take your baby outside of the home or commit to contracts with local childcare agencies.
Reasonable Turn-Around Times – No matter what industry you work in, you should always give yourself reasonable turn-around times for work. Even if you don’t have a baby it’s important that your clients don’t always expect their work to be turned around within an hour UNLESS PREVIOUSLY discussed. I pride myself in fast turn-arounds, however on those days when the baby is fussing and neither Dave or I can even seem to find time to use the bathroom, having a little bit of breathing room is a relief.
Even with breathing room, client emergencies will arise. Their computer crashes, a file is misplaced, the IRS is doing an audit… You get the gist. We don’t have an emergency clause in our contract, meaning we don’t (currently) charge clients for rush projects. However our clients know we have a baby, and will generally ask if a fast turnaround is possible.
Sleep – Even if you don’t feel like you have time, sometimes a nap, especially with the baby, is necessary. If your workload is under control and your calendar is clear, lie down for a catnap. I get stressed when I’m over-tired, and I get grumpy. I’ll admit it, and Dave knows it too. At these points Dave takes control, kicks my stubbornness in the you-know-what and makes me take a rest. If a client calls while I’m sleeping, he tells them I’m unavailable. Seeing as we didn’t have a call on the calendar and we own our business, this is completely acceptable. When I wake I feel 100 times better, and am better able to handle whatever my clients throw my way.
Virtual Assistance – Even though we offer virtual assistance to our clients, I’ve hired two sub-contractors to help with our business. Eventually they will be working on client work, however for now they are working on projects directly for Sutton Creative Studios. I’m still writing the blog articles, but they are helping with Twitter, Pinterest and Prezis. The best part is, in the past month I’ve been able to see how they both work, and I’m now completely comfortable asking them to do work for our clients. This is a win-win for all parties. My clients are happy because their work is done. I’m happy because I’m paid by my clients. I’m also happy because Sutton Creative Studios work is done. And my sub-contractors are happy because they get paid by me. I suppose this means it’s a win-win-win situation?
Kim Sutton is the Managing Partner and Chief Everything Officer of The Sutton Companies, including Sutton Strategic Solutions and Sutton Creative Studios. She is a graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Architecture.
An avid reader and passionate learner, Kim is constantly researching, studying and developing business improvement strategies. When it comes to client work, Kim especially enjoys helping her clients develop innovative marketing strategies and sales funnels, particularly when they are using Infusionsoft to automate all the heavy lifting. To find out how you can further develop your company’s marketing and automation strategies schedule a 1-hour Business Boost Strategy Session by clicking here.
In her free-time, Kim cherishes the time she gets to spend with her husband, Dave (her business partner), and five children. She also enjoys reading, knitting, writing and playing video games.
Get a copy of Kim’s FREE guide, “10 Top Tools for Small Businesses” by clicking here.