Inspired by the Struggles of Motherhood
“Once you have a child, your life will change forever.”
4 years ago I became a mother. My son came 3 weeks early, and nothing was ready. I remember feeling cramps in my belly all evening, thinking that maybe something was coming…
So I called the midwife and then got on my computer to send emails and cancel all the meetings I’d scheduled for the following week. Smart move.
Motherhood changes your life forever. You realize that you no longer belong to yourself. You also discover that there’s somebody else in your life who needs you more than anything in the world because you are their world.
If you think of it, there’re striking similarities between having a baby and starting a new business. Because an online business will change your life forever, too.
I know you may not have had a baby yet (I had my first one in my 30s and still felt like it was *too early*), but in this post I want you to consider this parallel carefully.
I believe it will teach you some unexpected lessons about harsh realities of starting an online business that we all tend to overlook.
In this post I will share with you not only how to survive that first year of starting an online business, but how to make it thrive, too! Let’s dig in 🙂
How did my life change that first year?
- My time was consumed by the baby.
- I was exhausted all the time.
- I thought that season would never end.
- I sometimes felt isolated and lonely.
- I worked as hard as I had never worked in my life.
- I had to make sure I fed my baby around the clock.
- Some days it felt like the baby was never going to grow.
No matter how doom and gloom it sounds, there was still excitement in me. Every time I looked at the chubby cheeks, the smiles, every time I got to hold and cuddle with my baby, maybe take a snooze and forget that the rest of the world exists, I loved my life.
I knew I wouldn’t have it any other way.
And the next moment the dirty diaper happens, and then the baby cries for no reason, and I’m all upset.
Up and down several times an hour.
- The smaller your baby is the more attention she needs.
- The more she disrupts your life.
- The more unpredictable she is.
Running a business is like having a baby: your life will never be the same.Click To Tweet
This is why starting your business is like having a baby.
Your business needs you all the time. It’s exhausting and taxing, but you move forward anyway.
Your business needs nutrition, which becomes more complex as it grows. Lots of businesses are malnourished because teacherpreneurs think only of 1 item on their list: payroll. Everything else is called “I can’t afford it,” so growth doesn’t happen or it happens with developmental challenges.
Your business needs the right nutrients at the right time. Giving your 1-week-old baby potatoes and meat can kill the baby. The nourishment must include nutrients, but you can’t give your business anything that “feels right.”
You feel tired, exhausted, stuck, and isolated. At these times it’s important to remember that it’s normal to feel the “baby blues,” and just stick through it until this passes. Finding a community of teacherpreneurs will keep your perspective right (join ours!).
At some point you’ll ask yourself, “Will this ever end?” Will this running around ever end? Will this day even ever end? Will I ever check off all the tasks on my to-do list?
It’s easy to get exhausted and demotivated. You look at your “baby” every day, and nothing seems to change. You go through periods when the list isn’t growing. The clients aren’t knocking at your door. The readers aren’t commenting.
Then you wonder, “Is there anybody out there who actually needs my services?”
Survival guide for the first months/years of your online business
In the first months/years of your business it’s crucial to do the following tasks to make sure your business doesn’t die or (worse yet) become a lifeless machine that sucks everything out of you but isn’t growing.
These tasks will also help you stay focused whenever you feel demotivated, stuck and overwhelmed (again, the experience comes from having a baby):
#1. Establish routines and schedules. Set boundaries. Check them again as your business grows and adjust. Don’t let it overwhelm you.
#2. Feed your business right. You can’t pull all the resources out of it and spend it on groceries or new shoes. Your business needs to grow, so you need to invest in it, but do you know what to invest in? What’s the smartest investment at this time?
Check out my Thrive! guide at the end of the post with valuable investment suggestions (based on my years of experience running, re-branding, re-focusing, re-designing my online teaching business.
#3. Focus. Among many other lessons motherhood taught me, focus was probably the most valuable for business. You realize that you only have 24 hours, and you can’t teach non-stop. In fact, you should probably look for ways to teach less and make more. Is it even possible?
Contrary to something that we’ve all fallen prey to, which is offer as many things as you can, to everybody, an online teaching business these days will scale only when you focus, get rid of the unnecessary bling-bling, prioritize and say no. So cut out everything that’s not you.
Here’s more recommended posts on this subject:
From hazy to clear: 10 questions to help you gain clarity about your brand by Veronika Palovska
#4. Seek guidance. When I first had my baby, every little cry felt like the end of the world. I would read every book/post online (most of them contradicting each other) and wondering what I should do right now about my exact situation.
I mean, should I buy amber beads to help with teething? Is it some colic issue? Is it a growth spurt? Am I going cuckoo?
Books didn’t help. You know what did? Talking to a mom who has been there already. Not the one whose kids are in College, but the one who has a child who’s probably a couple of years older than mine.
Her perspective is still fresh and relevant and she really gets it. In the business world, you need a coach. You need somebody to tell you “I’ve been there, and trust me, that’s exactly how it felt, but it will get better.”
Sounds like you? Book an Hour of Power with me, and I’ll help you get unstuck and move forward.
#5. Give yourself a break (find help). We can probably spend our entire days in front of computers trying to check just one thing off the list, but it doesn’t always happen. This is where delegation comes in.
The first time I realized it was when I heard a colleague spending 3 hours formatting a document. I thought to myself, “Why would anybody do that?” I knew then that I would definitely pay somebody to do that. The cool thing is, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune!
Here’s more guidance and resources to help you get stuff done:
Why you’ve got to get addicted to delegation: a post by Natasha Vorompiova from Systems Rock.
Small jobs done on a budget (aff) (website design, logos, graphic design, etc.)
#6. Remember it’s a season. The place where you are isn’t going to be the same, and your baby will grow stronger each day (unless you deprive her of some basic food essentials).
It’s not going to be like this all the time. The more you invest in your business (not just the “food”, but in other “activities”), the more independent of you it will become, until one day it will be able to function on its own (almost, keep reading).
3 things teacherpreneurs do to kill their business in the first year.
- They boot strap too much when it’s time to “feed” the baby.
- They splurge on things that aren’t essential at a given stage.
- They think they can figure it on their own (so they keep experimenting without asking for help).
In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis talked about the mother’s love, whose goal is for the object of love (the child) not to need this love anymore. A mother takes care of the child so that one day the grown man/woman will learn to be independent and make their own decisions.
“We feed children in order that they may soon be able to feed themselves; we teach them in order that they may soon not need our teaching… The hour when we can say “They need me no longer” should be our reward.”
In the same way, our business must come to a stage where it no longer depends on us as much as it did in the beginning. This is why we must invest in it and set up systems for it to grow independently of us.
This means, that not having private lessons shouldn’t scare us. In fact, this should be our end goal.
It means, that passive income streams should be a larger income item, not some lucky Black Friday gain.
It means, that our end goal is for clients to find us, not the other way around.
How can that be? Are we ready for this?
As online teachers we continue to “baby” and pamper our businesses for months and years, so we run around with “bottles and diapers” when your business needs some solid food.
We want to know what we’re doing, but we would rather buy a luxurious course (or maybe 10 courses in a bundle, ’cause it’s cheaper!) and wait for that breakthrough moment when the business grows up instead of getting some clarity and focus at the early stages.
We create “busyness” not business, relying on luck and not on strategy, knowing little about our clients and their needs. Instead, we feed them with what we think works.
Go beyond mere survival. Let your Business Thrive!
So now that you know what to expect in your first months/years of your business (hopefully just months) and have your basic survival guide in place let’s move into thriving. How can you make your business thrive? What are some essential skills that you need to invest in, the ones that will give you highest return?
In a separate worksheet I’m sharing with you the programs/courses/software that have helped my business thrive and has given the highest return on my investment. The document (Thrive!) is available to the Smart Teacher’s Library members.
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Thank you for your support! ~ Elena