5 Essential Tips for Surviving Self-Employed Maternity Leave
By Jodi McGee
Not long ago, Gina N.’s typical morning consisted of gulping down a quick breakfast, pulling on a business suit and dressing and feeding her two young children – all before 8AM.
“I was completely burned out,” she said. “I got to a breaking point, and didn’t know how I could continue this lifestyle AND still hold on to my sanity.”
Luckily for Gina, her years as a corporate exec for a large firm had provided her with enough contacts to strike out on her own as a work-from-home, self-employed consultant.
“I love running my own business,” she gushes. “I work with fantastic clients, I’m making good money, and I get to pick my kids up from school every day. I don’t think I could ever go back to working for someone else!”
The perks of self-employment are many: autonomy, flexibility and professional satisfaction to name a few. But, self-employment also means additional responsibilities and realities.
Such was Gina’s circumstance when she discovered she was pregnant with her third child.
“I was thrilled to be expecting again,” Gina said. “But at the same time, I realized it would be completely up to me to keep my business going. I wouldn’t have the luxury of several worry-free post-pregnancy weeks with my new baby, as I had with my first two.”
As Gina learned, being your own boss means that you need to take responsibility for your business, your personal finances and your family before, during and after the new baby comes.
Here are some tips to help you succeed:
While taking time off from your business may be a stressful thought for you as a business owner, the good news is that a 9-month pregnancy gives you time to plan. Take advantage of having this lead time to plan for your maternity as a business event.
• Look at your business forecast and personal finances: How much time can you afford to NOT to be focused on work?
• Does your insurance offer any maternity coverage? (Or, are you able to purchase additional insurance that does?)
• What projects will be active near your due date?
• How will you fill your pipeline so that there is work upon your return?
Communicate with your clients and business partners
Initiate a discussion with your clients and colleagues to announce your pregnancy and inform them of your plans. Demonstrating professionalism and coming prepared with solutions will go a long way toward instilling confidence in your ability, and maintaining
business relationships. Be sure to update contracts or agreements as needed.
Adjust your timelines
You can’t select when your baby will be ready to make his/her entrance into the world, but you may be able to shift your workload around. Where possible, accelerate timelines and prepare materials in advance. Alternatively, is there the possibility of delaying a project so that major milestones occur after you are back at work?
Consider your network.
Once you’ve identified what work or responsibilities will need to be handled in your absence, make a plan for resourcing them. Think carefully about the specific tasks that need to be handled and about what skills are most important to find in your substitute. Ask other contractors, colleagues, former co-workers, and peers from industry associations if they would be able/interested in filling in for you, or if they have a recommendation.
Get professional backup.
An attractive option for self-employed professionals who don’t have an organization or team to turn to is handing responsibilities off to a professional for a temporary period of time. In this scenario, you would have one experienced point of contact, and be able to rest assured that your work will be attended to with the same care you’d give it. Many self-employed professionals or small business owners also choose to engage a maternity leave professional to turn their capacity challenge into an opportunity to gain new insights about their work or their business.
Planning for a maternity leave when you’re self-employed may seem like a daunting task. However, by following these 5 essential tips, you’ll be well on your way toward navigating this challenge with ease, and enjoying much-needed precious time with your new addition.
About Maternity Leave It To Me
Jodi McGee founded Maternity Leave It To Me because she knows firsthand that having a baby changes everything, including your professional life. After navigating three maternity leaves of her own and watching friends, colleagues & clients wrestle with the same anxieties and decisions, it became clear to her that this was one of today’s workplace realities and there was an opportunity for a new answer. Maternity Leave It To Me was born! For more information please visit www.maternityleaveittome.com