As a parent, I find that being an entrepreneur adds an additional layer: education. My oldest son has watched me pursue being an entrepreneur since he was 3. All he’s remembered is that Mom works at home.
By no means has that classified me as a stay-at-home mom. I give those women props. My days consisted of other work: client meetings, deadlines, long hours and weekend work. These are all things it took to land successful clients for my business. The laundry waited until the weekend, the dishes sat until after 18:00 and the vacuuming was easily put off. My children were at daycare, school or summer camps.
In the past year, our boys have adjusted to mom and dad both working at home (as we had been) but now they witnessed it. With eLearning since March 2020, now we all see each other working. Mom is always working, which can be challenging. I did my best in the late afternoons and evenings. I put down my phone and let emails sit for (oh goodness) an hour or two. I scheduled evening calls to international clients only 2 nights a week. It’s constantly setting limits for home and work and knowing when it’s okay for them to bleed together.
What this did though was offer an opportunity for education as I alluded to above. It sparked creativity in my oldest who asks questions about my clients, about the work on my screen, about what notes I’m taking. So I’d find “assignments” for him.
When working on a branding marketing strategy for my client. I’d give my son their company name, the background of their business and the industry. I’d explain the importance of conveying visually what they do. He’d take the project on. He’d grab his notebook and pencil and come back to me with drawn logos — ideas — and his explanation of it. By no means does he need to grow up and do marketing but I’m fascinated that he’s interested. It gave me a fresh reminder that kids are curious.
It had been a few months of projects, client work and questions from my son. The best one was: Why does anyone go into an office?
I started to reply and stopped. I started again and stopped. I said you know, that’s a great question. I then explained that before I worked from home, I worked at companies in an office. It was such a “foreign” situation to explain to him. I shared that after college, I worked for different marketing companies — in the different industries I work with — and met with clients in person. The experience I’d had for 15 years in these settings led me to be, 20 years later, the experienced marketing professional I am today. That the experience, the work ethic, is all part of what allows me to do my own business from home.
It was an okay answer but made me ask that question myself: Why does anyone go into an office? When there is a choice — with this past year shaking up so many businesses and industries — it’s time for a fresh look of the in-person need versus virtual ability.
We were already on the path to be entrepreneurs in a digital nomad setting in the Netherlands. When that changed because of the current pandemic, the opportunity opened up for a new location in Barbados (before that a 12 month visa wasn’t available on the Island). This was a fantastic marketing opportunity with profitable sales.
We’ve sense now made it to The Netherlands this Fall 2021. We no longer are faced with eLearning for our boys but the foundation of working from home and for oneself still holds true.
When my son now comes over and asks what I’m working on, the latest email newsletter or new brand strategy, I take the time. I have the discussion for the potential future entrepreneurs. I remember that this life experience is that — an experience for life. Explaining our choices, our presence, our focus and our drive — this is only the beginning of the adventure.