I remember sharing the news with my clients that I was pregnant and would be taking some maternity leave when I had my baby. While in general, everyone was excited for me, there were some questions on how my business would run, let alone survive while I was on maternity leave and to be honest, putting all sentiments aside, that is a reality. My business still had to run while I was away on maternity.
My business was still relatively new, less than 2 years old and I had just landed my first major contract as a business. I needed a plan to keep my business running and thriving while I took some time off to recover after having my baby and enjoy lots of cuddles with my little one too.
Here are the things I did to keep my business running and thriving while I was on maternity leave.
1. Hold That Tongue: You have just received the news that you are a mom to be but before you go around spreading the good news to your clients, you need to STEP BACK and plan. You need to have a plan of action on how your business intends to run efficiently while you are on maternity leave. Your clients do have a right to know how you will handle things while you are away and having a plan of action gives you that confidence.
2. Go Back To Your Strategic Business Plan: This is quite important as you need to stick to your strategic business plan during your pregnancy and while you are away. Going back to your business plan means that you and your staff members if you have any are clear about your what and how as a business, how to achieve the business goals and objectives, how to keep your clients happy and how to keep marketing.Marketing is key for any business and this needs to keep happening even while you are away. By looking at your business plan, you can also identify the resources you will need to keep the business running and thriving while you are away on maternity leave.
3. Look Into Your Business Finances: Its time to look into your finances as a business. By looking at your finances, you are able to see if you have the budget as a business for any extra resources you will need to keep the business running while on maternity leave. This includes new staff, maternity cover, marketing etc.
4. Staff: After you have looked at your finance, you are then able to tell if you have the budget to take on new staff or even maternity cover. If you do not have enough money to hire someone full time, an idea would be to hire an apprentice. Hiring an apprentice means that you are giving someone the chance to up-skill and earn while learning and a very good chance of gaining new skills. Its cheaper to pay an apprentice. It would be best to hire this person not too long after you find out your are pregnant. Don’t rush during the interview as you need to hire the right staff, someone who is capable of working on their own and using their initiative. You need someone who will adapt to your business values and culture. Another idea is to consider using an e-receptionist service or hiring a virtual assistant, depending on the type of business you are running.
5. Look Into Automation Software: I recently discovered automation software such as Infusion Soft, Simplero and Ontraport. These can work really well in the sense that you programme every single aspect of your business process into it (that part does take some work) and these softwares practically get to work by managing it. It does come at a cost but may be cheaper than hiring a full time member of staff. They can be really effective as it keeps your business running and you are still on your game with marketing.
6. Project Plan Your Pregnancy: Projecting planning your pregnancy is really important. Consider each trimester of your pregnancy as a project phase. Be realistic, there will be hospital appointments or days you feel really unwell. Factoring marketing, staff recruitment and writing your process manual into your project plan is quite essential. You need time to train your cover to ensure they are competent while you are away.
7. Write A Process Manual For All Business Tasks: I found this to be very useful. By writing a process manual, it means that even your virtual assistant, “if you decided to go down that route” would be able to handle things during your maternity leave. Writing a process manual gives a reference guide for your staff.
8. Be Realistic: If you are a new business, just starting out and probably don’t have the budget to hire someone long term, you may have to take a shorter maternity leave. Also, your staff may need to call you if there are things that are out of their control. Be realistic that there may be some error. Do take some time to relax after the birth of your baby but you may need to check in with your staff at least once a week from the time your little one is about 6 weeks old.
9. Troubleshoot Your Business Process: Troubleshooting gives you that chance to trace back your steps on your business process, analyse and see where there may be faults and work on them. This can minimise any panic calls from staff while you are away and it is also a great chance to reflect on how you do things within the business.
These tips helped keep my business running and thriving while I was on maternity leave. Once you have got your processes in place, its time to spread the good news to your clients and you will have much more confidence on how your business will run while you are away.
Have you recently started a business? Are you nervous about taking maternity leave? Have you recently come back from maternity leave after starting a business. I would like to hear your thoughts.