I have two kids and run two businesses. My kids are a 7-month-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. My first business, a Web consultancy called Soapbxx, will gross $300,000 in 2009 and employs eight people. The second company, an online finance publication for women called DailyWorth (this website), requires a team of four part-time contractors to operate.
The best news? I'm not mad. I have plenty of time to be with my kids. I even manage to find time to have a leisurely lunch or extended "me" time.
Here's how I do it:
7am: Our baby girl wakes all of us up.
8am: We're downstairs, dressed, eating breakfast and packing lunches.
9am: My baby is cared for by a nanny. This nanny shows up at 9am and I hand my baby girl off. My 3-year-old goes to preschool. My husband always takes him to preschool. Bottom line: even if we're running late, I depart for my home office (top floor of our house) at 9am sharp. This is critical to me. 9am. Work.
9am-11am: After I clean out my inbox, I focus on DailyWorth, my finance blog for women. We send out a daily email, and this requires about two hours of my day to orchestrate.
11am-4:00pm: I focus on Soapbxx, my web consultancy. The tasks I concern myself with include:
2. Managing our project coordinators to make sure that they're planning and managing Website projects effectively.
3. Reviewing and testing Websites that are close to launch; logging tasks into our project management system that I think need to be considered or changed.
4. Producing strategic documents. Many clients hire my company because of the the strategic services I sell them. As a result, I personally handle a lot of the planning and strategy documents that go with selling large, complex websites.
I don't worry about Soapbxx's internal performance or quality because I've learned over the years how to hire only the best people. My team is exceptional and as a result, I don't have to micro-manage them or worry much. This did not happen by accident. I have 10 years practice hiring and firing. I've employed or contracted to 40 people over the last few years and only a select few remain.
4:00pm. I shut down my computer, scoop up my daughter, and drive to pick up my son from preschool. It feels incredible to me that I can run two companies and finish my workday by 4:00. Having been raised by a single mom who was forced into a strict 9-6 corporate work environment, I vowed to set up a life where I could be there for my kids more than my mom was for me. I don't blame my mom for her absence -- she did what she had to do to earn what she needed to earn in the 1980s. But I hated that she couldn't drive me to school, or be there for me after school. I'm structuring my life so that I can run my businesses and be there for my kids before and after school. In 2009, working moms can have it all if we plan properly.
4:00pm - 9pm. Family time! We run errands (Target, anyone?), make dinner, take baths, read books and every other bedtime ritual that makes having kids so special.
9pm - 11pm. Here's the part of my life that isn't so ideal. I generally boot up my Mac and do more work at 9pm. I know my husband would rather that I curl up on the sofa and watch True Blood with him. Sounds dreamy, really. But the truth is, these days I feel pulled to run through emails that came in from 3:30 - 7pm (there are often many) and finish tasks I wasn't able to finish during the day. I look forward to a day when I can stop work at 3:30pm and not resume until 9am the next day. Until my babies and businesses are more self-sufficient and systematized, it's a sacrifice I'm making, and hope that my husband realizes it's temporary.
The keys to my operation:
- I delegate a lot to very precocious people. I have a very responsible, motivated assistant. Without her, I'd be mad. She loves having her hands in everything from accounting to project management, and I love her for it. If she chooses to leave me (which she will some day), I'll have a very hard time replacing her.
- I'm obsessed with cash flow and work with a great bookkeeper/accounting team. For Soapbxx to operate, we need to deposit $25,000 into our bank account every month. I plan quarterly and manage daily when and from whom checks will arrive. My bookkeeper claims I'm one of the best cash collectors she's ever worked with, and I'm proud to have mastered the science of receivables. Just last month, I got our receivables down to $0.
- Once a month, I'll stay up until 4am if need be to push through things I owe. Sometimes, you just have to.
Does my story seem impossible to you? You have to take into consideration my manic, tightly-wound character. I'm more work-obsessed than your average mom. I love my companies and have very ambitious financial goals for myself (tens of millions, thank you). I don't exercise. I'm generally not eating proper lunches (note above: no lunch break). I do experience exhaustion. I wish I had more time to just be with my husband. For now, I'm satisfied with my structure and recommend it to my power mom friends.
Check out Soapbxx.