You know it’s funny – when I first started up in business a few years ago, I had just had my daughter, now 7. Great idea, eh?
I initially thought I’d had an epiphany. I couldn’t leave her to attend breakfast meetings and I was fairly convinced her nursery wouldn’t be too chuffed with the comment “I’ll pick her up sometime when I’ve finished work. Not sure when that’ll be, but if I’m not back by 7pm, if you can just pop her sleepsuit on”. So, it seemed obvious – work from home (sadly we weren’t able to survive on one wage for the duration), spend time with the babe and bring in money at the same time.
Cut to two months later. Said babe resolutely refuses to sit in her playpen quietly and let mummy make an important client phone call (good for her). Aforementioned mummy is constantly stressed, knackered and frankly, isn’t being a good mummy.
I was having an identity crisis you see. I thought that to be considered for client projects, I should ideally be dressed daily in a power suit (sans baby sick) and heels. I should be in a busy office resembling something on Wall Street. I should be available 24/7 and be constantly “on”.
I was pretty sure clients weren’t looking for someone whose main achievement of the day was ditching the dressing gown. They didn’t want to discuss branding with alternating gurgling/babbling in the background. They didn’t want a mummy, they wanted another faceless corporate firm, right?
Wrong. Now, almost eight years later, the babe is coming to the end of her primary school “career” (for fans of Planes, Trains & Automobiles) and my own career is certainly less stressful – but it certainly has its moments.
I’ve learned a few things myself. Such as:
- Clients are often struggling parents too
- Most of us are living a daily battle trying to balance family life and work. And most of us feel we’re failing
- Clients are looking for someone who “gets” them, who understands what their challenges are and can help them feel that they’ve achieved something
- They don’t want another faceless corporate firm. They want a human with which to build a relationship based on trust
In the last few days, I’ve been approached by several businesspeople who say they “get” me and like my honesty. What have I got that corporates haven’t? Simply this – what I say is what I honestly feel. Despite the training and the years of experience, I’m just me. I’ll have good days and off days. I invest not only hours but a little part of me in each and every client. I’ll chat to someone who’s had a disappointment at work and make them feel better. I might suggest something useful which I can’t do but I know someone who can. I don’t “do” office hours but will make sure something gets done to deadline.
So you see – being a businessmum has its advantages after all…