Melonie is a wife, mother of three sons and founder of Flexcom Consulting, a boutique firm consisting of talented, flex-schedule professionals who develop solutions for small business clients to be seen, be heard and be known. For more information - copy & paste this link into your browser http://www.flexcomconsulting.com
It was November 2008 when I made the decision to leave my corporate marketing job to become the person I had always desired to be. It was a difficult decision. But, it was so worth it.
Never enough time
It was difficult because my income helped support a comfortable lifestyle for my family. To eliminate that income meant we would have to give up some things in order to make it on one income. On the other hand, I seemed to have no time for my family any more. With each of my three sons playing sports, participating in extra-curricular activities and camp events, they deserved to see at least two spectators- mommy and daddy. With my work travel schedule, I was absent on occasion and I felt like I was letting them down. Inside, I was deeply challenged by the way I was spending my time. Time was a precious commodity - which I felt I had little of.
What I really wanted
I always strive to be a wonderful wife, a joyful mom, a great friend, a pleasant sister and a caring daughter. But, when working in a stressful, full-time position, I experienced more stress, worry, impatience and frustration.
Missing my family
My corporate work was exciting and demanding, but I was missing my family. When I was not in the office or traveling, I was working from my home office with the door shut. I began missing the little things like, hanging out with my boys, smiling while cooking my husband's favorite meal and gearing up to watch a family movie. When I finally had down time, I was just too tired! I wanted peace and quiet, not the loud noise that comes from happy sons pretending they are bulldozing a building. I began to appreciate less those things I once cherished. That is when it dawned on me that my priorities were all wrong. As a result, I was mismanaging my time.
I read a terrific book that really helped me. In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren writes, "The more time you give to something, the more you reveal its importance and value to you. If you want to know a person's priorities, just look at how they spend their time".
How I was spending my time
I was spending my time in the wrong place - at work! Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed being a business woman climbing the corporate ladder, working in fast paced environments, engaging in friendly peer competition and allotting time for strategic thinking. That is until it became increasingly more difficult to balance family and work. Thanks to increased job responsibilities, staff shortages, remote network access and a travel schedule, I began to feel trapped because I had little control of my time. It almost felt like I was selling myself and my family out in exchange for a paycheck.
After a few months of feeling imbalanced, I made the decision I resigned. I left my corporate career behind and decided to take my time back to do what I really wanted. That was to be the best version of me I could possibly be, not just for me, but also for my family.
When I got my time back
Feelings of elation, joy and freedom enveloped me upon my departure. At the same time, I was confused and uncertain about the future. Now that I had my time back, how was I going to spend my days when the kids are in school full-time? I took it one day at a time. And since my decision to leave the corporate world, I have been able to attend my son's spelling bee, cheer at sporting events, witness his saxophone skills at his band concert, be a spectator at his school circus, volunteer in his classroom, and sit in the audience as he read aloud his self-written book.
In my marriage, I occasionally surprise my husband with his favorite meal for dinner or a weekend rendezvous. And I can finally listen to his work gripes without adding competing gripes of my own.
Additionally, I am involved in several church ministry groups, available to my mom, sisters and friends, active in my son's school. These are all things I desired. Now, I have them all. And, I couple that with a healthy family and work balance. I'll explain.
I didn't stop working altogether
While I gave up the corporate job (the title, perks, travel, traditional work schedule and paycheck that tagged along, too), my knowledge base and skill sets remained with me. With my new found available time, I still wanted to enjoy some of the satisfaction I enjoyed when working full-time, but I really wanted balance to accompany it. I decided to start my own business - a flex-schedule marketing communications and public relations consulting firm which I named Flexcom Consulting. I wanted to create a special opportunity for other moms with similar marketing backgrounds.
I designed my business to give other moms, like me, who desire a family-first focus, the opportunity to earn an income and perform creative work on a schedule that did not compromise their family time. As a consultant, I would offer my services to smaller businesses at steep discounts in exchange for project flexibility.
A win-win business platform
This means, I build project schedules around our availability and clients save significantly on quality marketing communications and public relations solutions. Flexcom is satisfying both parties equally - consultants and clients. It's a win-win partnership. I have recently had the pleasure of bringing on several other stay-at-home-mom consultants (former full-time marketing professionals), so they may share in the joy and balance I have since found.
Clients love the idea of saving money and receiving quality results-driven communications. And we love the flexibility of doing what we enjoy on our own terms.
A little advice
Here's my advice to you. Whether you have to or want to work, find a way to do what you love! Then, make it a priority to balance what you love with those you love.
So, mom, is your business calling?
If you are contemplating a start-up business of your own, be prepared for the challenges that lay ahead. Please consider the following:
Start-Up necessitates focus.
Know what you want to do and write it down. It's important to keep it in front of you and refer to it often. Focus on one idea at a time. Sure, you may get distracted by other great ideas, but I warn you "one step a time".
Start-Up takes time
At the onset, a great time commitment is required to build your business. Focus your time by drafting a business plan. This may take months (or years depending on your effort being part-time or full-time). It requires a consistent effort and a great deal of energy, research and forecasting.
Start-Up requires discipline
If you want family and business balance, set parameters. It is most helpful if you have a dedicated work space that allows you to focus on work when in that space. I also recommend defining a work schedule and sticking with it (to the best of your ability). Let's face it, you will get off-hour inspiration, but let that happen every once in a while. If you don't, you could easily find yourself working all of the time even more than you were before. It's an easy trap to fall into, so beware.
Start-Up involves money
Whether it's the costs for your computer, software, phones, web-based applications, website, marketing or general overhead, I suggest writing down everything your business will need and their corresponding costs. Build a plan and budget to acquire everything over a defined period of time. Then, execute on the plan as resources become available.
Start-Up entails planning
Documented planning not only helps you see all that you need to do, but it allows you to see all that you have accomplished. It keeps you motivated as you journey toward entrepreneurship.
Start-Up demands dedication.
It's what I call "stick-with-it-ness"! There will be some days where you just do not feel like moving forward. I challenge you to press on. If anything is worth doing, it is worth a fight.
Start-Up requires support.
Build a support system and a team of accountability partners. These are the people who will challenge, encourage and help you along the way. They will prove to be invaluable over time.
This is just a starting point of things to consider when starting your own business. Carefully consider all things and be realistic in setting expectations for yourself, your family and your business. When you're ready, go get 'em! And have fun doing it.
Please share your experiences with us (see below). We love hearing how other parents "do it all"!