If anyone has the elusive answer to that scenario — how to work full time and be a mom and a business owner — just head straight to the comments and spill because I don’t have ’em!
Perhaps nobody’s noticed — perhaps it’s just me. But I’ve been lagging a little bit when it comes to the business of running a business. My blog posts aren’t as frequent and I’ve put any sort of marketing/advertising on the back burner. Even the time I dedicate to volunteering has become more infrequent (feeling total guilt about this in particular).
These things haven’t happened intentionally. I haven’t made a decision to cut back in certain areas — it’s been a subconscious shift of my priorities that only recently became clear.
When I started Happy Tails, my son was a newborn. Back then, balancing it all was tricky — I was a new parent, and our days were punctuated with many nursing and napping breaks. But I was on maternity leave, and without a full-time job to think about, I did have those snippets of free time to focus on building my business. And this is the funny part: I thought (so completely naively) that it would get easier as my son got older.
You can see where this is headed — it hasn’t gotten easier. It’s actually gotten much harder, but for the best reasons. My son’s now five, and he’s busy and funny and curious. He’s keen on exploring new places, trying new things and packing our days with activities. One recent Saturday, we asked what he thought we should do and he planned our itinerary: strawberry picking in the morning, home for lunch, playing at the local conservation area, doing stuff in the backyard, dinner with a trip to the ice cream store, and then taking Chloe to our favourite leash-free area. I think I sat down at about 8 p.m.!
But I love it, and I don’t want to miss any time with him. I work a full-time “corporate” gig through the week that I commute to and I already feel like I barely see him. So if it comes down to writing a blog post or going for a hike with my family, I’m picking the hike. This is not the first time I’ve had to really reflect on my business and what works for me.
What does this mean for Happy Tails? I’m still taking clients (summer and fall dates are available to book) and giving them an awesome experience! I’m also trying to do volunteer shelter/rescue photography whenever I can because it’s something I really enjoy … but it’s more on a monthly basis rather than a weekly schedule. I’m not marketing or advertising (not that I did a ton previously), which is likely affecting the number of sessions I book … which can also be said for my blogging (fewer posts negatively affects my SEO). But sometimes you have to pick and choose – and I’m ok with this for now.
I believe that if you want to succeed, you have to hustle, and what I get out of my business is directly related to how much I put in, so I don’t think these are just excuses (?) … I SO want to put heaps of my time and energy into this little side business that gives me so much creative freedom, and I SO want to keep improving and be successful. But I’ve realized that what “success” looks like is always evolving and time is a precious commodity.
So, to sum up:
- Happy Tails is continuing to book new sessions with awesome pets.
- But I likely won’t book as many clients this year, since I’m not actively promoting my business, which I’m trying really hard to be ok with.
- But there are only so many hours in the day and my son is super awesome and I want to spend as much time as I can with his awesomeness.
- And, when I’m not doing that (largely thanks to play dates and grandpas), I’ll do my best to photograph pets in need and share what I’ve been up to.
I would love to hear insight or advice from any of you out there who are juggling jobs or passions or priorities. Do any of you run a successful part-time niche business? Any tips? Can to share your success or failures? Or a joke to make us laugh? Please chime in!