The past year has been tough on moms. In the past, every decision we made was laced with the omnipresent choice between work and family.
But this year for many mothers, even that difficult and deceptively diametric choice has been taken away. Women’s careers have suffered, and that includes businesses run by mompreneurs.
To help you get your business on track for 2021, we sat down with Pamela Pekerman.
Pekerman is a business coach and founder of Hustle Like a Mom. With extensive experience helping her clients get their personal life and career into alignment, she has some specific tips for the remainder of pandemic life.
Work & Family
With everyone home all the time, finding the time to dedicate to your business has undoubtedly become more difficult. In fact, it might be your number one obstacle.
Let’s tackle it.
Everything is in flux right now. Simultaneously, the world feels frozen in place.
In times like these, it can be hard to build structure into your days. But Pekerman says it’s essential to running both a family and business.
To build this structure into the day, Pekerman’s family chose to do all virtual school for their children, forgoing hybrid and in-person options.
“One of the reasons my husband and I decided to do all virtual was that I didn’t want to be bothered with the inevitable, ‘someone is sick, we’re closing school today’ scenario,” she says.
Pekerman builds her work schedule around her children’s predictable workflow. When they are doing asynchronous learning, she completes tasks that are more easily interrupted like social media posting or checking email. Her children know that during this time she is available for help, but if they don’t need it she’s still getting stuff done.
After lunch, she knows she can tackle tasks that take more focus as her children will be receiving direct instruction from their teacher.
By having a schedule, it’s easier to block out times dedicated to work, family needs and other tasks that need to get done.
When creating your schedule, Pekerman says it’s important to be realistic. For example, Pekerman doesn’t schedule TV shoots or client meetings during those asynchronous learning times.
It’s also important to build in time for emotional needs. Yours. Your children’s. Zoom calls with Grandma. We’re all operating with less bandwidth right now, and accounting for those times of emotional care and support is important.
Have weekly family meetings.
When Pekerman does need to schedule tasks that cannot be interrupted, she makes sure everyone in the family knows about it.
“Everyone needs to be aware of each other’s scheduling needs so that the ship continues to float,” she explains. “Every Sunday we share our must-dos and no-interruption Zooms.”
With weekly family meetings, you’re able to make sure everyone’s on the same page as far as the schedule goes, lessening the odds that you’ll run into any last-minute surprise scheduling conflicts.
Bunch tasks instead of multitasking.
Pekerman’s favorite acronym is OHIO -- Only Handle It Once.
The idea here is that if a client proposal is going to take you 30 minutes, you shouldn’t start it until you have 30 minutes to dedicate to the task. Another example Pekerman uses is not taking a call right before your kids are going to need your help with lunch.
To keep up OHIO in the pandemic, Pekerman bunches tasks together rather than trying to do more than one thing at the same time. Client proposals, interviews and other uninterruptable tasks get scheduled during the same block.
Tasks that are easier to pivot, like social media scheduling and inbox management, are bunched together to address during asynchronous learning blocks.
If your profits weren’t as high in 2020 as they were in years past, you’re not alone. Mothers in particular have been asked to take on an outsized and unfair burden during the pandemic. Economic struggles are everywhere.
But if you know where to look, you may be able to get a little help.
Government programs to help small businesses in 2021.
The end-of-year stimulus legislation has some programs that can help mompreneurs in 2021. You may want to look to:
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
- EIDL Loans.
- EIDL grants if you live in a low-income community.
Private grants to help small businesses in 2021.
In addition to government resources, you may want to look to the private sector for funding.
“I would suggest keeping an eye on what is being shared by groups that focus on economically empowering women,” says Pekerman. “Think of groups like iFundWomen, the Tory Burch Foundation and VISA She’s Next. There are grants, small business loans and mentorship opportunities to explore.”
As you get your business finances in order, make sure you have your personal financestaken care of, too.
During the pandemic we’ve all had to make some sacrifices. One of the most intuitive things to cancel is socialization. We often think of socialization as an unnecessary luxury. For others, socialization feels like a large burden during these tumultuous times.
But at work, socialization is important. Pekerman encourages mompreneurs to prioritize networking -- even during the pandemic. She’s made sure her Hustle Like a Mom group remains active so members can provide each other support.
“I’ve seen so many collaborations and support systems develop this year, and we all need a mompreneur BFF that is hustling with us.”