From tips on balancing parenthood and business to the struggle of juggling the two, Danielle Holmes of Black Nova Designs shares her experiences and life-hacks to help you struggle the juggle of being a mum in business.
Having created a platform which has the ability to reach over 20,000 people at the click of the ‘publish’ button, the benefit this can have on businesses of all shapes, sizes and sorts is huge. Having created my very own business almost four years ago now, I am pleased to say I now have a solid number of contacts who are not only fellow business owners but now firm friends and Danielle and Kyle Holmes of Black Nova Designs are a perfect example of these.
When lockdown first landed and Covid19 swept across the world, traditional business went online. I knew I needed to ‘get with it’ and with the cancellation of Spring’s Editon in its usual printed form, the website needed to be up to scratch and so, I called upon my friends at BND, who saved the day and managed to finalise the new In The Country website in a matter of days – well ahead of schedule! And so, when I had the opportunity to return the favour by showcasing Danielle and Black Nova Designs on the website they built, I was only too happy to help so, I’m going to hand you over to Danielle herself. Take it away momma:
Let me start with a quick introduction, I am Danielle; mum, step-mum and business owner. I own and run Black Nova Designs Ltd together with my husband Kyle (running a business with my husband and having kids isn’t easy!).
Image of Danielle Holmes taken by the talented, Jasmine Punter Photography.
Prior to working for Black Nova full time I worked for the amazing KeyFlow Feeds, a role I did from home as their Bookkeeper.
Working from home gave me the opportunity I had always dreamed off – working around my little girl’s schedule.
Who knew such a tiny human had so many needs and timescales at a young age?! Nap time, food time, and then starts the mum groups and other activities I felt were required, plus nursery.
Imagine this, have you ever tried getting a horse into a trailer that is refusing to load? We have all been there in some way or another, or perhaps a muddy dog into the car post walk who is refusing to heed your words? Well, try getting a tiny human dressed, fed and out the door in a hurry – I still haven’t quite decided if horses are cheaper and easier than a child – I’ll let you decide that one.
In the early days, in between being a mum I was up all hours learning all about what website hosting was, what a website did or didn’t need and how I was going to become the best sales person in the world – well that was certainly the dream. I knew I could help people, I knew people struggled with computers and PCs just like I did. When Kyle starts talking to me about RAM, CPUS and Servers you will often notice my eyes glaze over!
I’ve always had the burning desire to help others and that’s where my motivation came from – all of a sudden with this new knowledge I could offer help on a personal level that I couldn’t find from any other company. So with my new skills I had to start being a mum in business… a daunting task.
Being one of those ‘mums in business’, in my opinion one of the hardest things to do and be – working at 5am, 11pm or any snatches of time you can get in-between your parenting duties, dealing with lack of sleep or bouts of child sickness and working out child-care all while you attend the face-to-face meetings is a challenge to say the least.
Then there’s the daily school drop offs and pick-ups and only having a few minutes to look groomed and professional before running out the door. I say that, I don’t recall the last time I did the school run looking anything other than dragged through a hedge – the child goes to school prepared for any weather, me? I turn up in socks pulled up to my knees, toothpaste stained top and hair that resembles a bird’s nest – yes I am one of those mums! Never one to turn up in my best outfit. These are just some of the additional relentless realities in addition to being a business owner.
Being a mum, business woman, and wife can be a struggle to juggle – but here are some top tips I have started working on which might be useful to other mums who are running businesses:
Introduce power hours:
Procrastination is difficult to overcome – this is a weakness of mine, but I get over it by having ‘power hours’. Write a realistic task list for an hour of time, turn your phone to ‘do not disturb’, close e-mails and social media and crack on. At the end of the hour have a 15-minute catch up on calls and e-mails and repeat. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve!
Make time for you and your husband/partner:
For us ‘mums in business’ it’s not a 9-5 job and it’s easy to concentrate solely on other people, but you must take time out for yourself. I know, I know, I can see you rolling your eyes and scoffing, “When on earth am I going to squeeze that in?” Am I right? – wrong!
An occasional hour out of the office doing something that you want to do makes you feel lighter and clears your head. It could be a class at the gym, finally catching up with your friend for a coffee, or getting your hair done in working hours. Seems too easy to say doesn’t it? I know, we all struggle with time, there is never enough of it, but you absolutely must make time for each other as well… I know sorry, yet another thing to worry about.
Once a week, once a month or even just one evening – it helps. Give each other uninterrupted, time together. Each one of us needs affirmation and affection, if you are always too busy to be affectionate or set time aside, he or she may look to someone else or begin to not care. I’m not saying this to scare you, but as humans, we need affection, we need appreciation – man or woman, we need to feel like someone cares… So be there and care, don’t let someone else be their ‘shoulder to cry on’.
Put your phone down ‘out of hours’:
Your time is incredibly valuable, don’t waste it. I was (maybe still am at times) obsessed with my phone and checking e-mails and social media constantly. While it takes a lot of discipline, this is now a habit that I love and will continue to push towards more often. I’m more relaxed in the evenings, I’m actually present with my family and friends, and I sleep better. Seriously, what can’t wait until the morning?
This will also help with quality time and as above, provide more time for you, the kids and your partner to have quality family time.
Ensure your children understand why you work:
Working hard pays off and ultimately pays for treats along the way. Explain to your children that treats come with hard work and saving money… and you’re in business to do just that.
Some weeks the balance will be focused on your business, but others it will focus on your children and family – it balances out. Ultimately, I’m proud that my daughter sees me as an independent, strong working mum – a role model.
Make time for friends:
You won’t be alone in the juggle-struggles; get to know the parents on the school run, and if you create a friendship with them and really get on, share childcare with them. It’s very normal for my friends and me to look after each other’s children to enable the other to go to work – happy children playing, mum duties ticked, and work duties ticked off the next day when your friend repays the favour!
- ‘If I do it myself, then I know it’s done properly.’
- ‘By the time I explain it to somebody else, I might as well have done it myself.’
- ‘What kind of wife / mother am I if I don’t clean my own house and keep on top of the washing.’
Sound familiar? This was me all over, but for you to enjoy life and enable your business to grow, you must learn to delegate. Managing the demands on your time, life with a spouse, child(ren), friends and family is busy enough. Add your own business to the mix and it can seem overwhelming.
First, get help around the house – taking on a cleaner/ironing service/gardener and having your food shopping delivered will save hours.
For me, my kids are everything, nothing will ever come before them! There is no client or meeting more important than being there for my daughter. I’m yet to come across a client that hasn’t actively encouraged this. I will advise a client, ‘just off on the school run will call back later or tomorrow.’ At no point has that affected my business or the ability to gain more clients. Never be afraid to put everything down and just be a mum.
You won’t get that precious time back – be there at sports days, be there for mum and toddler days, be there when they need mummy on a sick day – because for me the only reason I make this business work is to ensure she comes first. That’s just me.
And a last quick couple of tips for a happy relationship because often this can feel the strain of stress:
A compliment a day…
When did you last make an effort and it went unnoticed?! Annoying and disappointing isn’t it.
Well start making a habit today of giving a little bit of affirmation to each other. Say something nice to each other every day. Whether it’s on appearance, work, or personality, a compliment is an easy and effective way to make your partner feel great and noticed.
We all want our hard work recognised, we crave appreciation and want to feel like our efforts are recognized, so think of something nice to say. Kindness goes a long way.
Be happy to see each other:
This one might sound small, but it’s actually a pretty big deal. I know, you see each other every day, and you are probably still annoyed about something he or she didn’t do, but they’re stressed about work and their mind is also preoccupied – just breathe and smile. Be enthusiastic, make eye contact, smile at each other, and show how happy you are to see each other.
You’d be amazed at how much it matters. Try it, next time you are together just smile at each other, it will recreate a lot of happiness without a huge amount of effort.
It’s so easy to let the kids/work/Facebook/cooking or any of the other gazillion things that demand our attention take precedence over that special moment of connection.Just five minutes of your undivided attention and he or she willl be feeling loved, and will want to show you how much they love you too.
Be organised, set your routine:
Ok, so not relationship focused but, this will have wider benefits, I promise. Be organised, set your routine, work hard and work smart, you’ll reap the benefits. You’re a superhero, believe it; you are all things to everyone, and you wouldn’t be doing it if you didn’t have the ability.
Follow Black Nova Designs on Instagram, where you can soak up some handy tips for how to cope with the balancing act, what you need from a website and some gorgeous equestrian content too. Do you need someone reliable and approachable to host your website? Or, do you need a whole new website designed and developed by this fab, independent and knowledgeable team? Give Danielle a call on 01793 210 045 to discuss.
Until next time…
Lots of love,