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A Power Mom’s Day: Two Kids and Two Businesses

amanda-steinberg

Guest post by Amanda Steinberg, founder of Soapbxx and also DailyWorth.com. DailyWorth is a free daily personal finance email for women – delivering practical tips, empowering ideas and the occasional kick in the pants.

I have 2 kids and run 2 businesses.
My kids are a 7-month-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. My first business, a Web consultancy called Soapbxx, will gross $300,000 in 2009 and employs 8 people. The second company, an online finance publication for women called DailyWorth, has no revenue (yet) and requires a team of 4 part-time contractors to operate.

The best news? I’m not mad. I have plenty of time to be with my kids. I even manage to find time to have a leisurely lunch or extended “me” time.

Here’s how I do it:

7am: Our baby girl wakes all of us up.
8am: We’re downstairs, dressed, eating breakfast and packing lunches.
9am: My baby is cared for by a nanny. This nanny shows up at 9am and I hand my baby girl off. My 3-year-old goes to preschool. My husband always takes him to preschool. Bottom line: even if we’re running late, I depart for my home office (top floor of our house) at 9am sharp. This is critical to me. 9am. Work.
9am-11am: After I clean out my in-box, I focus on DailyWorth, the finance website for women. We send out a daily email, and this requires about 2 hours of my day to orchestrate.

11am-4:00pm: I focus on Soapbxx, my Web consultancy.
And the tasks I concern myself with include:

    1. Ensuring that I’m selling and closing the next $50,000 – $80,000 Web project.

    2. Managing our project coordinators to make sure that they’re planning and managing Website projects effectively.

    3. Reviewing and testing Websites that are close to launch; logging tasks into our project management system that I think need to be considered or changed.

    4. Producing strategic documents. Many clients hire my company because of the strategic services I sell them. As a result, I personally handle a lot of the planning and strategy documents that go with selling large, complex websites.

Liberated from micro management
I don’t worry about Soapbxx’s internal performance or quality because I’ve learned over the years how to hire only the best people. My team is exceptional and as a result, I don’t have to micro-manage them or worry much. This did not happen by accident.

I have 10 years practice hiring and firing. I’ve employed or contracted to 40 people over the last few years and only a select few remain.

And by 4:00pm, I shut down my computer.
I then scoop up my daughter and drive to pick up my son from preschool. It feels incredible to me that I can run two companies and finish my workday by 4:00. Having been raised by a single mom who was forced into a strict 9-6 corporate work environment, I vowed to set up a life where I could be there for my kids more than my mom was for me. I don’t blame my mom for her absence — she did what she had to do to earn what she needed to earn in the 1980s. But I hated that she couldn’t drive me to school, or be there for me after.

I’m structuring my life so that I can run my businesses and be there for my kids before and after school. In 2009, working moms can have it all if we plan properly.

4:00pm – 9pm … family time!
We run errands (Target, anyone?), make dinner, take baths, read books and every other bedtime ritual that makes having kids so special.

9pm – 11pm
Here’s the part of my life that isn’t so ideal. I generally boot up my Mac and do more work. I sense that my husband would rather that I curl up on the sofa and watch True Blood with him. Truth is, I feel pulled to run through emails that came in from 3:30 – 7pm (there are often many) and finish tasks I wasn’t able to finish during the day. I look forward to a day when I can stop work at 3:30pm and not resume until 9am the next day.

Until my babies and businesses are more self-sufficient and systematized, it’s a sacrifice I’m making, and hope that my husband realizes it’s temporary.

11pm. Bed.

The keys to my operation:

  • I delegate a lot to very precocious people.
  • I have a very responsible, motivated assistant. Without her, I’d be mad. She loves having her hands in everything from accounting to project management, and I love her for it. If she chooses to leave me (which she will some day), I’ll have a very hard time replacing her.

  • I’m obsessed with cash flow and work with a great bookkeeper/accounting team.
  • For Soapbxx to operate, we need to deposit $25,000 into our bank account every month. I plan quarterly and manage daily when and from whom checks will arrive. My bookkeeper claims I’m one of the best cash collectors she’s ever worked with, and I’m proud to have mastered the science of receivables. Just last month, I got our receivables down to $0.

  • Once a month, I’ll stay up until 4am if need be to push through things I owe (sometimes, you just have to).

What do you think? Does this seem impossible?

You have to take into consideration my manic, tightly-wound character. My theory is I’m more work-obsessed than your average mom. I love my companies and have very ambitious financial goals for myself (tens of millions). I don’t exercise. I’m generally not eating proper lunches (note above: no lunch break). I do experience exhaustion. I wish I had more time to just be with my husband.

Yet for now, I’m satisfied with my structure and recommend it to my power mom business owners and friends.

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    1. This is a good article. It's nice to see how you structure you day and how you've carved out your priorities. The only line I disagree with is this:

      “In 2009, working moms can have it all if we plan properly.”

      If you are not caring for yourself (not eating, not exercising) and sacrificing time with your husband, you do not have it all. I don't believe women can have it all simultaneously. I think that's a complete myth we buy into. There are only so many hours in the day. As you've done, you've chosen where and how to focus that time. And something's gotta give. In your case it's self-care and quality time with your spouse. That will be fine, until it's not. And then you'll likely shift or shuffle your focus. Maybe you'll feel unwell or get burned out and decide you've sacrificed your health long enough. Maybe your marriage will start to feel some bumps and you'll have to devote more time to that. When you do, something else will get trimmed from your schedule.

      So while I applaud your work ethic and the fact that you're clear about what's important to you, if you are making any kind of sacrifices (and you are, we ALL do) then you must not have it all.

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    2. Wow! I commend your strength. I have an eight-month old son and just started a business. I've been wondering if I'm completely mad to be trying to do so much at once. You've just given me the inspiration to keep plugging away. Thank you! Was it this “easy”/structured before you had the employees and contractors? I'm still pretty much a one-woman team…

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    3. @Mimi. You make a great point. The whole notion of “women can have it all” when I'm not caring for myself is misleading. For example, I find the whole notion of “seeking balance” absurd and don't even bother striving for it. I'll take excitement and progress over some vague notion of balance any day. When I say I have it all, what I mean is: I get to have a thriving career AND be there for my kids before and after school. To me, that's all I want at this moment in my life.

      @Nskuba Congrats on your new business! What is it? No, it's taken me 10 years of really hard work to get to this place. And, on a bad sales month, I'm back to scrambling, so I don't even think of this place as permanent. Having healthy profits on the Web consulting side (took me 10 years to get there) and having the income to pay for my very precocious assistant are critical to the place in life I am now. Without both, I don't think I'd be writing this blog post.

      Thanks for your points and questions.

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    4. To me you sound like Wonder Woman. I have no kids and one business (across dozens of website and hundreds of projects but it's still 1 business) and some days I feel like I'm barely hanging on. I love your very structured time of getting on the computer, getting things done and getting off. I recently instituted a firm day time work schedule and that helped a lot.

      The one thing in your schedule that I have tossed out is email. I have a main company email that I'm copied on so I have visibility of everything, but my assistant answers the bulk of the issues that don't involve me or aren't addressed to me. Then I have a special client-only email address so there's no spam issues. In that way I get email done in two 20 minute sessions a day.

      Thanks so much for letting us see your schedule. It's a big help to know how other people organize their day.

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    5. Hey Tinu. I am no wonder woman. I just happen to be at a great point in my life business-wise. 2 years ago I was on my mom's sofa, crying from a migraine because I was spending $15,000 a month on payroll and hadn't paid myself in 3 months. It was at that moment that I realized I needed to create a different structure. Focus on my *model.* Change my market (was mostly non-profit, now includes pharma, fashion and finance industries) Delegate practically everything that wasn't directly related to sales or cash flow. If you think you're barely hanging on, but have hundreds of projects, I ask you to take a close look at your model and your cash flow. I am teaching a class on cash flow on Oct 8: http://www.ladieswholaunch.com/webinars/1621/Ho

      5
    6. Hey Tinu. I am no wonder woman. I just happen to be at a great point in my life business-wise. 2 years ago I was on my mom's sofa, crying from a migraine because I was spending $15,000 a month on payroll and hadn't paid myself in 3 months. It was at that moment that I realized I needed to create a different structure. Focus on my *model.* Change my market (was mostly non-profit, now includes pharma, fashion and finance industries) Delegate practically everything that wasn't directly related to sales or cash flow. If you think you're barely hanging on, but have hundreds of projects, I ask you to take a close look at your model and your cash flow. I am teaching a class on cash flow on Oct 8: http://www.ladieswholaunch.com/webinars/1621/Ho

      6
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