Female entrepreneurship is surging in South Africa, with the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report for 2018/9 indicating a 53% increase in women’s Total Entrepreneurial Activity. Many of the women who have struck out on their own today are facing daunting parenting responsibilities, along with the gruelling challenge of running a business in a tough environment.
For entrepreneurs and side hustlers who are also moms, a difficult juggling act is made even harder by the national lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19. Unable to look towards schools, day care, grandparents, paid domestic help and other support structures, mompreneurs can face an even more difficult balance between work and parenting.
Here are few ideas to help mompreneurs achieve flexibility during these challenging times:
Create a wall between working hours and personal time
Whether you’re used to working from home or are doing it for the first time because of the lockdown, running an office from your home can be challenging. It’s all too easy to feel like you are always at work and therefore, feel you should always be working. On the other hand, balancing your family’s needs, especially with kids at home, can be tough.
Try to schedule hours that you’re working and stay away from the computer if it’s not within that window. Let your family know when it’s your working hours and try to get some productive hours done. It is not always possible to just close the door and tell them they can’t disturb you unless it’s an emergency. So, it’s important to try and be more flexible during this time, in order to keep good mental state and positive family environment. And put your workspace in its own area. Even if you don’t have a separate room, look for a quiet corner to call your office.
Create a website
As a busy entrepreneur and mom, you have your hands full most of the day. It can be easy to let sales and marketing slide in between doing billable work and managing family responsibilities. A modern, professional website of your own is a powerful marketing tool. It can be a great help, promoting your business and its products and services to the world, while you’re sleeping.
You don’t need to overwhelm yourself by launching a massive, expensive site. If you’re strapped for time, keep it simple, and use a template-based website builder or a managed WordPress tool. You can work on the website at your convenience day or night, so it fits into your schedule.
You can refer people to your website for company information such as product specifications and frequently asked questions. That can take a weight off your shoulders because you will not need to answer loads of queries via email, and people can access the information they need without needing to phone or email you.
Your website should have a domain name that represents your business, have an up-to-date professional look and feel, and it should work as well on a smartphone or on a PC.
Use email for marketing
Many mompreneurs value the human touch and enjoy taking the time to interact with their customers. But as your enterprise grows, it might be difficult to find the time to make personal calls or send emails directly to your customers. One way to streamline marketing and save time is to use email marketing.
As you build your business, you can collect email addresses of people who are interested in what you offer. You can also add a signup form to your website to gather email addresses from visitors. Let them know what you’re up to and ask them for their permission to stay in touch.
A template-based email tool can make it simple to create full-colour emails that look good on any device or email service. Some solutions make it easy to automatically turn your blog posts into email newsletters and to send welcome emails, birthday messages and so on. This is a great way to market yourself and stay in touch with your customers, while helping you save time and effort.
Find support structures online
During this time of physical distancing, you may be missing your friends and your professional network. Social media and video calls can help close the gap. If you have a team who came into the office or customers you used to meet for coffee, you can do a virtual drinks or coffee meetups on video conferencing tools, like Microsoft Teams, to help stay in touch. Networking groups on platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook can also help you to network with like-minded business owners when you seek advice or moral support.
Our final tip to working moms, is courtesy of Marli Joubert – a designer and working mom. She says that it’s key to keep growing and evolving your business so that you keep your passion alive. “To be successful, you need to keep learning and growing,” she adds. “Keep making new contacts, trying new ideas and looking for new opportunities. This is the key to staying motivated and avoiding stagnation.”