When you work for yourself, most people think you can take as much time for maternity leave as you like. But reality tells us it’s just not that simple. You may be a solopreneur, it could be just you and a VA and this could be the first time anyone has taken maternity leave in your company! Stephanie Uchima, is the host of the Mommy’s On A Call podcast and has worked with a lot of female entrepreneurs during this exciting, but overwhelming time.
If you are starting to plan maternity leave in your company, here are five tips to keep your business running smoothly.
Plan, plan, plan!
“The one benefit about planning for maternity leave is that you have a relative timeframe (a due date) on when it’ll start,” notes Uchima. “Obviously, babies will come when they’re ready, my second came at 36 weeks, my recommendation is to be prepared with a full plan by 32 weeks.”
Start planning as early as possible. The second trimester is a great time because it is when you have the most energy, and if your baby comes early, you’re ready.
When planning make sure to think about these 3 key time frames:
- 3rd trimester – what you want to accomplish (starting/launching new projects isn’t ideal during this time)
- Maternity leave – ideally how long will this be.
- Return from leave – what do you want this period to look like.
Set Clear Financial Goals
Think longer term and bigger picture vs. specific projects. Do you want to learn new skills during your maternity leave? What do you want to accomplish in the next year?
“Decide what you need or want your maternity leave to look like financially. Are you going to need to make all your money in the non-maternity time or are you going to continue to earn passive income during leave? Do you need to have a 2-, 6- or 1 year runway of cash on hand? If so, how can you save and plan for that?” asks Uchima.
Get clear on what you need financially in order to get through leave comfortably.
Automate, Delegate Or Outsource
“Purchase software, and implement systems and processes. For example, subscribe to a software like Honeybook, Dubsado, Flodesk, Convertkit to create email sequences for inquiries, workflows, etc.” suggests Uchima.
“Accept all the help you can get – outsource and hire help in advance both in your business and personally. For example, if you’re a solopreneur, then look to hire a VA, social media manager, etc. That goes along with outsourcing tasks at home like cleaning or meal delivery.
“During your first and second trimester, document everything you do as you’re doing it. When you’re going through daily tasks or projects, start a Google document and list out the steps to accomplish each task so you can start creating a Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) for your business. This will help when outsourcing to a VA or delegating tasks to your team.”
Set expectations with your clients or customers in advance. Over deliver on information to make sure they know they are well taken care of and who they can contact when you are unavailable.
“If you have a team – go through your entire plan with them and make sure they know who the points of contact are for clients and what the correct line of communication should be for situations, so they’re not emailing, calling or texting you at every question,” notes Uchima. “Get as granular as specifying small tech issues can be emailed to you, but if the website suddenly crashes, to please put in a phone call.
“Don’t put your auto responder on saying you won’t be back for three months or else you will come back to no new business (unless that is what you want). Communicate with the public how they can get a hold of someone from your company or if you plan on still answering emails, put an auto responder saying they will receive a response in 48-72 hours, but don’t go MIA!” says Uchima.
“Whether you are a first time parent or have multiple kids, each newborn is different and adding another kid to the mix is unpredictable. There will be days where all you want to do is dive into work because your baby is napping or you have help at home, and there will be days when you haven’t slept more than 2 hours and can’t function,” notes Uchima.
“If you happen to have spurts of energy and pockets of time, it is okay to do some work, but don’t feel bad if you don’t do anything at all either. For me, I ended up hosting an online summit and launching a new program when my 3rd kid was 6-10 weeks old because ironically, I had so much free time. I also started answering emails on my phone or engaging in social media when I was nursing because during those 30 minute sessions I would be so bored!”