People often hear that I have a business and an MBA and assume I have this meat grinder mindset, where it’s all business, all about money and everything’s very unemotional. But that’s till they get to know me. Anybody who knows me knows that my business really reflects my values. And that, because I have a business, I can drop everything to focus on my values when I need to do so.
I’m a mom, but I make a point of talking very little about my family on this website. That’s to protect their current and future privacy. But something recently happened that gave me a chance to evaluate my priorities and the reasons I went into business for myself.
I had a childcare crisis. I won’t go into what happened. But I was suddenly faced with one-third the childcare for each child and no overlapping childcare! This was a nightmare. But I had to do it. It was the best thing for my kids, even though it sent my life on a big rollercoaster ride.
So, for the past six weeks, I’ve been scrambling. But you know what? I didn’t have to explain the situation to my boss…didn’t have to ask for vacation time or time without pay. I just took it. And I was able to be there and will be able to be there over the coming months to help my kids transition into new options – to help set the pace at their comfort level and mine. Sure, my business took a hit – but I had the option of taking that time off. I can’t even imagine what I would have done if I’d had a “regular” job. I suppose I just would have had to move my kids into new options, regardless of what would have made the most sense for them. And that was my reason for becoming a business owner, even though I made the leap years before I ever had kids.
And that’s the thing. For all that I may sometimes work unconventional hours and sometimes seem like I never truly leave work, I have way more options than someone in a regular job. For example, last year, when a family member was in the last stages of life, I just left town on a moment’s notice to be there for her. I could do that, without having to explain myself to anyone. And when I got interviewed on national radio – CBC, no less – a few days ago? My kids were a few feet away in the living room.
And, more recently, when my son had a hip hop recital at school till 10 am, I was able to be there for that – even though I’d missed tons of work time recently while mitigating this childcare crisis. I could do it, because my business works around my family. I don’t have to work my family around my business. I can make my family the number one priority in my life.
When I think about friends who’ve suddenly been faced with a childcare crisis and had to leave their child with a complete stranger the next day or lose their jobs, I feel very fortunate to run my own business. And as I reflect on a friend with a dying husband whose employer said she could only have a week off work before they’d cut her job, I know that I’m fortunate to have control over my work – and my family life. In fact, in the past, when illness and injury should have completely disabled me for a year or two at a time, this business allowed me to keep up my career and education. Running a business can be tiring and demanding at times, but I have the power to set limits, to manage those demands and to make decisions based on my values. I can fire clients I don’t like. I can work fewer hours than many people because I command solution-based fees. I can work from home or a café or a paid office or the public library (where I’m writing this). I have lots of choices. And I have them because I made the choice to work my business around my values and my family and not the other way around. Of course, there are lots of ways to do that and what works for any one of us may work for just us at that time.
How do your choices reflect your values? Whether you’ve got a regular job, a side business or a business of your own, what’s driving your decision?