By Vanshika Goenka
In contemporary times, there has been a shift of demographics in the Indian corporate landscape allowing us to witness a colossal rise in the number of women entrepreneurs. While it has certainly been a pleasant change, it has not been one without its fair share of struggles and challenges. For most women entrepreneurs, their business is their baby. However, one of the toughest challenges they face is when the real baby comes along.
At the outset, women business owners toil with carving out time for maternity leave. Having a child essentially necessitates taking significant time off, and that can be almost impossible for an entrepreneur because it would mean untangling from the ties of the business for at least a few weeks, if not months. Fortunately, there are ways to prepare beforehand so new moms can spend quality time with their new bundle of joy without letting their business feel neglected. Here are a few factors to consider before taking maternity leave, and transitioning back into work life without feeling overwhelmed.
Chalk out a plan in advance
Pregnancy can feel endless with anxieties and worries trickling in but newbie moms need not let that subdue the excitement of their newborn’s arrival. To begin easing out the pathway ahead, to-be-moms need to first map out the daily tasks that they are in charge of and create a blueprint as to how these tasks will be managed by them or someone else. This allows them to answer questions and work out any kinks before the sleepless nights start and enables them to obtain maximum bonding time with their little one.
Delegate downwards, sideways or across the team
Here’s the tough part for an entrepreneur, especially those heading large organisations or working solo. Someone else is going to have to cover for the new mom while she’s missing in action. There are different ways she can delegate her responsibilities, be it to her partner, to her subordinates or to her team in entirety. Team coverage is most common in instances when the team is large or the company is small with several people working collaboratively on a single project. Spreading the work around limits the burden on any one individual, and for start-ups, it’s sometimes the only option because everyone is already stretched so sparsely.
Spot the logjams
This is a stressful yet crucial part. Before heading towards her maternity leave, the entrepreneur-cum-mom needs to identify the stumbling blocks of her business that could cause greater trouble in her absence. For instance, irate customers/vendors/stakeholders, certain lack of order, deficient service, loopholes in the finance system, et al, must be addressed well in advance, or new personnel must be hired to overlook and systematise these.
Focus on finances
When a new baby is on its way, preparation for its arrival also calls for more saving. A new family member means new unforeseen expenses; that clubbed with lowered income during the maternity break needs the new mum to be prepped up financially. Cutting down on expenses and going an extra mile while taking on projects and signing new clients before setting out for the leave will do the trick.
Bounce back but with baby steps
The initial days of being back in the business can be a tad bit overwhelming for new moms. Juggling between both the baby and work can seem daunting but it’s important to remember not to rush into the mayhem. It’s also important to strike the right balance between handling work and family together while also focusing on self-care and well-being.
For every entrepreneur, it is vital to be a person of mettle as well as metal. Women prove this just right as it is the tenacity and determination with which they address life and business challenges that make them winners. Women need to remember they need to take that time off — minimum eight weeks. There is always an option to remain connected and check on the goings-on of the business, however, there must be boundaries in place so that a woman entrepreneur’s transition into a new mom is smooth and precious. And as most women worry about stagnation in their absence, they must note that if the groundwork is laid thoroughly and effectively, they can avoid the inertia and unpleasant surprises when they return.
(The writer is CEO and Founder, Kool Kanya)
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