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Back to school: Business advice for parent-entrepreneurs

| | Heidi Thompson | 22 September 2023

With the summer holidays over and the school term starting in earnest, to outsiders it may seem like an easy time for parent-entrepreneurs.

While it’s true that balancing work and childcare over the six week summer break is a bit like walking a tightrope, the challenges don’t stop just because the kids are back in school five days a week.

For starters, there’s the disconnect between the usual 9-5 working day and the shorter school day, then there are two school runs per day, not to mention homework, extracurricular activities and sports, all on top of the usual day-to-day jobs that come from running a household.

And then there’s running your business. If you’ve taken some time off over the summer to spend some time with your family, you may feel like you’ve ‘fallen behind’ and are playing catch up now that you’re back to work.

Don’t panic

You may be feeling overwhelmed by a mountain of emails that need to be dealt with, orders stacking up or simply feeling out of the loop if you’ve handed some responsibilities over to your team during the holidays.

Combined with your home life responsibilities it may all feel too much.

The first thing to remember is that we’re all human, and it’s ok to feel like you can’t balance everything.

If you do have a team that you’ve trusted to keep things running over the summer then you can rely on them to bring you up to speed.

If you’re a solo entrepreneur then now is a good time to write down everything you need to do and start working through things systematically. Some smaller tasks can and will wait. Start with the most important things and go from there.

Set boundaries

The start of a school year is the ideal time to set boundaries between work and home life and establish a new routine.

This doesn’t mean that you have to say goodbye to your children and solely focus on work until half term. Instead, think about what the non-negotiable family times are for you, such as being involved in the school run or having a family meal together, and plan your work hours accordingly.

Block time out in your calendar when you’re going to be away from your desk so that the rest of your team, as well as clients, know when you’ll be unavailable.

If you work from home, it’s important that you have an area in the house dedicated to your work and that you communicate with your children when you’re not to be disturbed.

This will help to clearly define when you’re in work mode and when it’s family time.

Leading by example

You might think that your colleagues will take a dim view of you leaving early to collect your children or putting your family ahead of work but this can actually have its positives.

By clearly putting your family first, you’re showing your colleagues that it’s ok for them to do the same and this can create a more healthy work/life balance throughout the company, provided it’s not one rule for you and another for them.

You should be wary that if you really are neglecting your work and doing less than you would expect of your colleagues, this could affect their morale and their productivity.

Get support

Running your own business is demanding and it can be all too easy to feel overwhelmed and like you have to be across every single aspect of your company.

However, help is at hand. At Duncan & Toplis we offer a wide range of business services, from HR and payroll to tax and marketing. We work with entrepreneurs like you to provide a bespoke service, allowing you to focus on what matters most.

Get in touch with us to find out how we can help.


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