Balance. It’s elusive.
It was elusive when I worked in the mainstream workforce, before I had children. Now, as an entrepreneur with two young daughters who play sports all year long, achieving balance is still a continual work in progress.
Prior to launching my business, I’d dabbled in part-time entrepreneurial adventures. And I knew that one day I wanted to be an independent business consultant. Then in 2003, faced with a daughter going to daycare for 11 hours a day and a job that just wasn’t the right fit, my mom, a professional accountant (and my most trusted business advisor), gave me the “green” light to do my own thing.
Her “green” light simply meant that I took the dream that I’d been shaping for years and put it on paper. I translated my ideas into actual plans: marketing, operational, human resource, and of course, financial plans. I wrote down my dream about working with women and non-profits to help grow high-impact-practical (HIP!) business solutions and it took on a personality of its own; it became real, tangible, and do-able.
Fast-forward 13 years: The plans that I put in place didn’t come to fruition quite the way I expected.
I found that it was easier and more cost effective to secure ongoing contracts with non-profits who had a line item in their budget for outside consultants. I also discovered that while women entrepreneurs were motivated to grow their businesses, finding the small percentage that were motivated and who prioritized hiring an outside consultant to help them grow their businesses was time-consuming. I needed to adapt my plan.
So what does this all have to do with balance?
As the mother of a two-year-old, I didn’t have the time, energy, or capacity to reach both markets if I wanted to craft the balance my husband I and were striving for. Something had to give.
So I adapted my plan and focused on finding local community contracts that enabled me to connect with my local community, work the hours I wanted while bringing in a good income, and be available to my family. It was a compromise, and one that I don’t regret.
I’m proud of the business I’ve built to date—including the people I’ve met who have honoured me with their business and friendships. I’m thankful for the connections I’ve built in my community. It’s been rewarding personally and professionally.
Now, with over a decade of experience running HIP Strategic Consulting, I find myself adapting yet again. My daughters are now 15 and 10. This means that while I am still juggling their school and sports schedules, I do have a little more time to build my dream business.
I’ve come full circle, back to the dream that I had when I wrote my business plan. Today, I am successfully dividing my attention between helping women entrepreneurs and non-profits be wildly successful on their own terms. And, what’s really great is that the online technology that I envisioned using to connect with my clients is now mainstream, easily accessible, and cost-effective.
As my children navigate their teen years, I will continue to find new and unique ways to balance our family needs and the entrepreneurial drive that is so integral to who I am. But for now, I sit here at my desk writing this blog post, thinking I’ve done quite well: I’m happy with what I’ve achieved; pleased with the choices and compromises that I’ve made.
How have you achieved balance? Or are you still struggling to find your unique formula for balancing your multitude of priorities (children, family, parents, business, play, and exercise). Please share your stories below. I’d love to learn from your experiences.