Directing a company and a child: why the two are not so dissimilar By Kim Johnson @wellness_london
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, ever since I was a little girl and decided to start a car washing company with a friend (which I quickly realised was not for me after 3 hours cleaning one car!). Even when pregnant, I was busy planning a small business aimed at physiotherapy and fitness for pregnant women. I remember a huge massage couch about that could accommodate Mum and her bump, waddling around with it on my shoulder! I would sit writing marketing strategies in coffee shops while bump grew bigger, even building my website out of a box!
Fast forward eight years, and I am the co-director of Wellness London; we are a leading corporate wellness company with clients across the nation. I’m also the Mother of Maia; my intelligent, quirky, sometimes very cheeky eight-year-old.
In many ways, I would say there are many similarities between running a company and managing a child. Your business becomes your baby. It’s just a case of always remembering which is the priority. (Just in case you are worried; it's Maia!)
However, it is a matter of looking at the bigger picture regarding that priority. There are times I have to miss a school performance and many times when I cannot arrange play dates due to my schedule. But; I know attending those meetings and pitches are helping me build a bright future for Maia, and I am demonstrating (and hopefully inspiring) to her that you have to work hard and sometimes sacrifice certain things for a better tomorrow.
Being my boss (to a degree – I have my co-founder and Board of Directors to report to) also allows me to delegate and manage my time so that I can include my daughter’s wellbeing and needs into my life. Taking her to school at least twice a week, collecting her and driving her to Little Voices for her singing lessons, cooking a meal for her that we can sit and eat together. I never view it as a struggle: it’s my choice, and I remind myself that I am very fortunate.
So what are the other similarities? Well, being a Mum you are constantly thinking about your child. You cannot switch off. You want to plan their schedule, make sure they are growing, progressing. You need to spend quality time with them for this to occur. Business is similar; I love my company and am always thinking about it, making sure I am helping it grow and thrive. I wouldn't want to be doing anything else and the thought of it one day "moving out" to another owner....while I will be exceptionally proud, I would miss it dearly!
I don’t have a Nanny or Childcare; I have a wonderful Mum who helps me when I need it. But I schedule my time around Maia and my schedule. Remembering your own time and needs is imperative; don't be entirely selfless. If you don't include "you" in your week, then you won't be the best version of yourself and your child will pick up on it. It prevents you ever uttering those intractable words "I do everything for you, I have no time for me".
I think this is unfair for children to hear or feel this. Making time can be something as simple as doing twenty minutes of exercise, at home, while your child watches a bit of television. It teaches them to enjoy some alone time and yourself some "you" time.
I always schedule the time to keep fit (I’m a fan of weightlifting and Crossfit). I’m not superwoman; I don't have a lot of help, but equally, I am not afraid to ask for it when needed. I'd say the difference is I decided to put my foot down a few years ago to stop feeling guilty. I set myself a schedule, and I keep to it. For Maia, for my company and me.
So am I seriously comparing my daughter to my business? I don’t think you can compare them directly. I am hoping to demonstrate that you can “have it all” – it’s all about preparing and being realistic and most of all, not beating yourself up. I think Mum's are so hard on themselves and it's time to be kinder. We do a fantastic job - so please allow yourself that necessary "you" period each week, however small.
I guess being a bit selfish is how I have achieved success in my life both personally and career wise. I've found a way to make all aspects of my life work to in synergy around my personal goals; raising my child the best I can, growing my business and doing a bit of the thing I love.
That is the real key: what are YOUR goals? Be it staying at home with your child, creating a business, breaking the glass ceiling in a large firm; whatever it is, have a goal and plan around it. Finally; don't be afraid to be a little selfish now and then. Your family will thank you for it.