By Tina Hodges
Life is never boring when you are running a business and raising a family. Not only am I the proud mom of three wonderful little kids – ages 6, 7 and 9 – but my husband Mike and I run a growing company with more than 80 locations and 800 employees.
In many ways, running a family business has helped me be a better parent. Being a CEO requires patience and the ability to prioritize and delegate. Being a mom requires patience, sometimes a lot of patience, and the ability to prioritize and delegate, not to mention wipe away tears and read bedtime stories.
I was attending a conference recently and something one of the speakers said really resonated with me. She noted that while we “can” have it all, we just might not be able to have it all at the same time. Leaning on the help of family and sharing parenting responsibilities with my husband have helped me balance the workload at home and at work.
Whether you run a company with five employees or 500, here are some tips I’ve learned along the way for effectively managing motherhood and a business:
Share household duties
My husband and I share household responsibilities, whether it’s doing laundry or cooking dinner. Just like at work, we pitch in to get the job done. We don’t really have gender-defined roles when it comes to managing our household. I’ll take the trash out or do yard work if needed and Mike will cook or do laundry. We work together and our kids see that we work as a team toward a common goal.
I have also learned that as a business owner you can never say, “that’s not my job.” At Advance Financial I have filled almost every single company role over time. The same is true when Mike and I are at home. We share responsibilities in every aspect of our lives, both at work and at home, and we are always willing to pitch in to ensure the job gets done and gets done right.
Carve in “me time” when you can
Finding “me” time is admittedly a challenge as a mom of three and a CEO of a thriving business. One way I sneak in a little self-care is during business trips. Since we have already arranged for childcare for the kids, I don’t feel guilty about taking a quick break. For example, if I’m traveling to a conference I may arrange to fly in a few hours early and take advantage of the hotel’s spa services, fitness room or even just take a nap.
It’s tough to justify taking a break when you are responsible for your kids and your business, but if you don’t take time out to recharge you’ll burn out and your health will suffer. You can’t be an effective leader if your health and wellness are not a priority.
Encourage a strong work ethic in your kids
My parents are longtime business owners who instilled in me the value of hard work and entrepreneurship. I grew up seeing them do whatever it took to ensure things were running smoothly, whether it meant working on the weekends or working late nights. My children are growing up seeing what it takes to run a business. In fact, I started bringing all of them to the office with me when they were babies, so in some ways they have grown up at our business.
Know your numbers
You may excel at managing your household budget, but running a business takes an entirely different set of accounting skills. Take some basic accounting or finance classes and consider hiring a professional accountant early on to guide you as your business grows. Balancing a corporate P&L sheet is vastly different than balancing your checkbook.
I’m a big believer in investing in the people who help run your company day to day, but if you don’t also invest in processes and people that help manage your finances, you won’t be able to build your business.
Accept that your parents were right (about most things)
As time goes by I realize I am saying to my children so many of the things my mother said to me. At some point as a parent you realize everything that your parents told you was right. As business owners, Mike and I are also repeating things my parents said to me and my sister growing up regarding the family business.
I distinctly remember my parents having to work on weekends and my sister and I complaining about it. They’d simply reply, “If we don’t go, no one is going to go,” and there have been times Mike and I have had to say that same thing to our children. I think all entrepreneurs go through that at some point. You, and you alone, are responsible for making sure no task is left undone.
Running a business and being a mom takes a lot of energy and teamwork. In both roles I find that certain skills, such as patience, perseverance and proactivity, pay off. At the end of the day I’m proud to answer to the title of both mom and CEO.
Tina Hodges is Chief Executive and Chief Experience Officer at Advance Financial in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2017, Advance Financial ranked for the sixth consecutive year on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the country. Follow them on Twitter at @AF_247.