First, let's start off with congratulations mama! When you are on maternity leave for a 9 to 5 job it's not as stressful as going on maternity leave for your own business. But with some planning, you can ensure a smooth transition during your maternity leave. Here are some tips for preparing for maternity leave as an entrepreneur.
If you're at that point in your business where you can hire help this is definitely the time to do it.
If you've been thinking about it for a while I say hire them yesterday, because the earlier you can teach your Virtual Assistant (VA) to familiarize themselves with your workflow then you don't have to worry about the end product while you're on maternity leave.
Know that it might take you some time to find the VA that works for you. Everyone has different personalities and making sure that you find the right VA that matches your work effort is going to be the key to success on both ends.
It took a long time for me to be confident in delegating tasks but after gaining more time on my hands as a result of having a VA I love delegating tasks. Especially when I know that they are going to be done the way that I want them to be done. If you take only one thing from this episode I think it should be to hire help.
In addition to a VA I also have a freelancer who helps me with website design and that's been really helpful as well. I'm hoping that I can still accept web design jobs without me having to be behind my computer. If you can hire someone to help you in a certain aspect of your small business for example if you're a photographer book you're photoshoots before baby comes then hire someone to edit your photos during your maternity leave this way you have a shorter amount of downtime in your business. Just make it clear to your clients when they will receive their photos.
Create a Document of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs):
Think about creating a document of standard operating procedures. I use a Google Doc with a table of contents of all the tasks that I normally do repetitively in my business. Stuff like how to set a blog on auto publish or how to package a logo.
Include a screen recording of you doing the task and include numbered steps on how to do the task so it's clear what needs to be done and so that no steps are missed.
This document really comes in handy when you delegate tasks to your VA so that if they have a question they can rewatch the tutorial or look back through the steps without having to contact you. I wouldn't sit down and add every single task in one sitting. When you find yourself doing a task you want to delegate screen record yourself and add it to the SOP. Since you're doing the task anyway you don't have to make time in your scheulde to work on your SOP's.
Create a Detailed Plan
Figure out when you want to start your leave and when you want to return.
Make sure that the help you hired has everything they need to be successful. I like to put everything on a Milanote board so that everything, documents, log ins, photos are all in one place. There are also other programs like Trello or Base Camp.
Make it's clear on what tasks you want them to do and what to do in common situations. Do you want them to onboard clients for you? Or make sure that your inbox is taken care of while you're gone? Do you want them to finalize open invoices?
Recognize what projects need to be finished before you leave and what projects can wait till after you get back. Just make sure that this is clear with your clients and that there are no misunderstandings.
Financially you can think about how much money you would have made during your maternity leave and try to create a cushion beforehand.
Create Content in Advance to Keep the Marketing Momentum Going
I definitely think it's worth it to find some time in your schedule to get ahead of your content this will make sure that your brand remains strong, you can still build brand awareness, and you continue your marketing plan while you're enjoying baby snuggles and, setting the stage for a smooth transition into this new chapter. For me, I want to keep my podcast and blog running so I've been working hard to catch up on batching my episodes. I've been working on not scrolling mindlessly on social media to make more time and having my Virtual Assistant (VA) help me finish the details of each episode and set them to auto publish so that is all automated.
I'm happy that I started handing off these tasks to her before I knew I was pregnant because now my VA knows exactly what she's doing. I know that she's going to do the work how I want it to be done and I can be on my computer as minimal as possible once the baby comes.
Strategize for Business Growth
I've been in the process of creating a mini course for people who want to create their own brands, DIY your brand in 5 days, as a way to make a bit of passive income and I've been working on it on and off for over a year now and with baby it's coming it's kicking my butt into gear.
I'm sure you've had something in the works where you wanted to make some kind of passive income whether that selling templates, a course or something similar. This is the time to sit down and do it so that you can strategize for business growth while you are on maternity leave.
Communicate with Clients and Customers
Send an email to your current email list so that they know that you will be away for a certain amount of time. This will make sure that your projects can be scheduled ahead of time and you will probably get a nice handful of jobs from emailing everyone as well.
Set Up Automated Systems
Something valuable you can do for your business is to create automated systems. In Wix I can create an automation where if potential customers fills out my contact form it sends an automatic email with details expecting me to reply within 24-48 hours, my hours, etc.
For your maternity leave if you can set up an automation that says something like 'Hey thank you for filling out this form I'm on maternity leave from this date to this date' then at least people visiting your website will know that you are a professional business and will get back to them eventually and you're not ignoring them. Also, set up an automatic reply on your email as well.
Offer Limited-Time Discounts
Something to think about is that instead of worrying about making money during your maternity leave, you can make sure that you have a couple of jobs lined up when you get back or even before you go on leave. Don't stress yourself out and end up with burn out. Maybe you want to book one project per week for a whole month and offer a special discount to incentivize customers to make a purchase. That will be a great way to get back into the swing of things when you're back and make sure that you have some kind of cash flow. Practice Relaxation and Enjoy Your Time Off
This is going to be the hardest tip for most of us since as entrepreneurs we always want to go go go but your little one is only little for a short amount of time. Take care of yourself and enjoy this new chapter of life.
This is why you created your own business and became an entrepreneur so that you can enjoy your life and this is the perfect time to practice putting life before your business.
As you prepare for this new chapter of strategic planning is going to be your greatest ally.
Heres everything you should prepare before maternity leave Hiring Help
Creating a Document of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
Creating a Detailed Plan
Creating Content in Advance
Strategizing for Business Growth
Communicating with Clients and Customers
Setting Up Automated Systems
Offering Limited-Time Discounts
and Practicing Relaxation
I hope you found that helpful and it let's you enjoy motherhood without compromising your entrepreneurial spirit. Cheers to a healthy birth and successful maternity leave. You got this mama!
Z Squared Studio is a Brand and Web Design Studio based in Juneau, Alaska. Check out www.zsquaredstudio.com for custom brand design, Alaska logo design, or web design.
Or sign up for our DIY Brand yourself Mini-Course if you're ready for a stand out, scroll stopping brand without hiring a designer.