6 tips for balancing a new baby with a budding business
Food entrepreneurs are well-versed in the stress and strain of running their operations. For most, taking a year off for maternity or paternity leave is financially and emotionally complicated.
So, what can new parents do? Is there a way to balance parenthood and entrepreneurship?
Here are 6 ways two food processors who are also new moms tackled the challenge.
Before the birth of her baby, Taylor Chapman, co-owner and operating partner of Good Spirit Kombucha, located in Saskatchewan, made significant changes in her business to help facilitate spending more time at home with her baby.
“I knew that there was going to be many transition pieces, so we worked in tandem with other local businesses to outsource roles and responsibilities,” says Chapman.
This included bringing in a contract brewer, who owns an artisanal soda company, to brew and package their product.
Chapman also created Standard Operating Procedure documents for almost all aspects of the operation.
"I was so heavily immersed and involved in the day-to-day activities, it just sort of lived up here in my brain,” says Chapman. “Creating these documents helped make the transition easier for me and my team.”
Although she officially took maternity leave, it was far from a hands-off model. However, she leaned into her team for the day-to-day operations.
Hannah Watson, co-founder of Snak Bakery Limited in New Brunswick, conducted a detailed analysis of her business before the birth of her baby.
“About a couple of months before we gave birth, it started to become apparent that there needed to be a change in both processes and products,” Watson says. “We put the infrastructure in place before the baby so that we're not running production every day of the week. It is the first time we've felt like we had some breathing room.”
Snak Bakery focused on bottlenecked areas and used automation to improve the process. The company also made the tough decision to pause production on two of its three products. Although Watson did not officially take maternity leave, she incorporated tools like virtual meetings and automation to reduce time on both the production floor and the field.
Slowing down the on-the-go attitude of the entrepreneur is challenging for both Watson and Chapman. However, the reality is that they can no longer drop everything and leap into action.
Slowing down the on-the-go attitude of the entrepreneur is challenging when you’re a new parent.
“Entrepreneurs are used to being in fight or flight mode,” Watson says. “I've learned how to react and adapt quickly, although parenting is a completely different experience than running a business.”
Self-acceptance of the new reality of life as a parent and entrepreneur is essential. Watson learned that her entrepreneurial mindset of big days, goals and achievements must shift to reflect her new reality of motherhood and entrepreneurship.
Watson and Chapman participated in one of FCC’s food and beverage peer groups, where they connected with growth-minded peers to share aspirations, challenges and goals and support each other’s business success.
“I was very lucky that in my FCC peer group, another entrepreneur was pregnant at the same time,” Watson says. “Each month, I got to log into a call and talk about entrepreneurship problems with someone who knew exactly what I was going through at that moment.”
The first few months on maternity leave were particularly challenging for Chapman, leaving her feeling disconnected from her business and pulled between her business's needs and being a new parent.
“I rely heavily on our assistant manager. In the beginning, she used to come to my house every Monday morning so that we could work together,” Chapman says. Eventually, they found a groove of working together with the team and the outsourced pieces.
The shift into parenthood as an entrepreneur requires continually managing expectations, including a willingness to adapt priorities when needed. Creating and sticking to a schedule helped Chapman remain efficient, maximizing the small pockets of time throughout the day to focus on the needs of her business.
One key takeaway that both Watson and Chapman share is recognizing and setting clear boundaries. This could include opting for virtual instead of in-person meetings, saying no when necessary and adjusting the amount of social media use.
“There might be one or two days when you’re great at motherhood,” Watson says. "But most days, you're just figuring it out, one moment at a time.
Both Watson and Chapman agree that balancing a new baby and entrepreneurship is tough. Be easy on yourself.
Article by: Anne-Marie Hardie