You’re the Financial Director, Event Organizer, Chief Operating Officer, and CEO of your household, not to mention entrepreneur on the side. So how do you decide where to cut back when you find out you’re being promoted to military mommy? Just as you create a birth plan, you’ll want to create a plan for maternity leave as CEO to make sure your business runs as smooth as possible and you can enjoy your baby once he or she arrives.
Evaluate Your Time
Time is your most valuable resource before your little one arrives and will be your most limited resource once your baby is here. Prioritizing your home and business schedule is critical before maternity leave as CEO of your company. How much time are you spending making meals and cleaning, rather than managing your business? If you were able to put those hours into your business, how much revenue would you be able to make? It may be more economical to budget for a weekly maid rather than spending five hours a week cleaning and washing camis. If a maid isn’t an option, develop a schedule or a “honey-do” list so that household chores aren’t intruding on your business hours. It’s easy for your spouse to leave work at the base (most of the time), so it’s important to develop your own business boundaries. Evaluating your time before baby arrives gives you a better idea of where your current business hours are spent and where you may need to reprioritize after giving birth.
Understand Your Options
There are several options to consider when you’re CEO and planning maternity leave. You can:
- Take as much unpaid leave as you wish and place your business on hold.
- Reduce hours and delegate critical daily tasks to employees.
- Take unpaid leave for a set period of time and delegate tasks to employees.
If you don’t have employees, consider hiring temporary staff to train three months prior to maternity leave so that you have people in place to manage the day-to-day business while you enjoy time with your kiddo. Calculate all of your business and home expenses for the last three months and the next three months to gain a better understanding of how much maternity leave is affordable for your family.
Keep your partner’s leave in mind too. Most military branches give 10 days of nonchargeable paid paternity leave, though there’s recent discussion of extending paternity leave to 14 or even 21 days. If he’s deployed when baby arrives or you decide to save his paternity leave for a more critical time, he is able to take leave up to 365 days after the baby is born. Check with your commanding officer to determine your spouse’s paternity policy and when he’ll most likely be home to help out. Military life is about give-and-take, so make sure your maternity plan is just as flexible. You never know if the baby is planning an early arrival!
Standardize Processes on Paper
If you’re a team of one (plus the nugget in your protruding belly), chances are the business strategy, operating procedures, and brand style guides are all stored in your head. You’ll want to use the months before your baby is born to transfer all this knowledge to paper for several reasons.
- Pregnancy brain is real. If you don’t have a staff or a plan to hire temporary employees, you’ll thank yourself for documenting all of your business strategies and processes before you take time away. Once you are ready to step back into the office, chances are you’ll run on two hours of sleep and will balance client calls in-between feeding time.
- Your staff needs reference documents. When you’re snuggling up with your little one, you won’t want to be interrupted with questions like, “Uhhh, what’s our color hex code?” or “What’s our standard shipping option, and how much does that cost?” Creating standard operating procedures and a brand guide can save you and your staff major headaches when you just want to take time to be with your new family.
- Set automated responses. If you’re the kind of CEO who always wants to keep your finger on the pulse, set automated email responses to set expectations on when you will be available next. There’s no need to say you’re on maternity leave, just state that you’re unavailable at the moment and will reach out within X business days. This will create transparency and trust between you and your clients or team.
Create Content and Automate in Advance
Going AWOL for two months can kill your sales funnel. Luckily, there are many ways to manage content creation and automate posts so while you’re away your business is still up-and-running!
- Develop a quarterly content calendar. Start developing all the content you would like to post on your social sites, blog, podcast, or website now. It’s easiest to develop content around five to six topics you feel confident in discussing and rotate through these subjects every week. Source images, hashtags, captions, and all other necessary components now so there’s nothing to worry about during those 2 a.m. feedings.
- Automate your engagement funnels. Does your company have a monthly newsletter? Have you considered sending an automated workflow to those who download site content or add a product to their cart? Developing an automated email series seems like a heavy lift now, but you can set it and forget it at least while on maternity leave. Be sure to review the email performance before going on leave to make sure they are engaging and successful.
Most Importantly: Rely on Your Tribe
As a military spouse, you have one of the strongest support systems to fall back on. Don’t be afraid to ask your military family for a second opinion or cash in some favors. Talk about your challenges with your confidants and see if they can provide a fresh perspective. Simply putting your business out into the military community can lead to new clients or partnerships. Use your cross-country connections to your advantage!
Cherish this time as an entrepreneur and as a new military mother! Using the months before your baby’s big arrival sets the foundation for your business to flourish while you’re away. Hey, maybe you’ll be able to step away again for a real vacation one day.
To learn more about managing maternity leave as an entrepreneur, check out Stacey Trock’s course How to Take Maternity Leave without Putting Life on Hold on CreativeLive.com.