You just found out that you are pregnant. You are so happy! Afterall, this is something you’ve always wanted. But once the excitement of bringing a little one into the world settles down, a slew of concerns begin to pop up.
How will I manage the business when I have a newborn?
When will I come back?
How will my business change?
These are just a few questions that may be running through your mind.
The good news is that as long as the baby hasn’t already arrived, you still have time to prep so you can feel less stressed about the business and allocate your energy toward the new addition to your family.
For this to work, it is essential that you have a team in place because as much as you may have been holding down the fort solo, it takes more than one person to build a business and raise a child.
Here are some steps you can take before the baby arrives to set your business up for success while you’re away.
Eight Steps to Prepare Your Online Business for Maternity Leave
1. Block the time period you are planning on “being away.”
Depending on a variety of factors, like your financial situation and upcoming projects, decide how long you’ll be “away” from the business.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t be up-to-date on what’s happening, but it does mean the time period where you aren’t the sole reason things are still running smoothly.
If this is your first child, you may want to consult other friends who have gone through a similar situation and ask them how long they felt was necessary to take off.
By choosing a time period, even if it changes later, you can prepare in advance and relieve some of your worries.
2. Make a list of all your regular activities.
When you actually sit down and make a list of everything you do on a regular basis, you might be surprised by how much you accomplish on a daily basis, which will also inform how much help you’ll need.
If you don’t already have help, like one or two virtual assistants, you’ll need to put together some documents to make the transition as smooth as possible.
These documents might be:
- Checklist of what you’re looking for in an employee
- Checklist of the types of activities that an employee is expected to accomplish
- Standard operating procedures of tasks they’ll be assigned to do
While there’s no set time period of how long it takes somebody to learn your business processes, it’s ideal to give them a comfortable time period of 2-3 months.
When you make a list of your regular activities, you can get a broader perspective on how much help you need and what exact activities you’ll need to train them to do.
3. Plan out any launches or new initiatives that will happen during the period you’re away.
If you have anything new coming out, like a product, during the time you’ll be away, list in detail what needs to happen and who will be responsible for each task.
If besides the usual team members, you’ll need contractors, start making arrangements to find the right people.
This may take some time, so you’ll want to start as early as possible.
By making a list of new launches or initiatives, you won’t be caught off guard at critical stages that are essential to your business’s growth.
4. Do as much advance prep work as possible.
Once you’ve figured out what tasks need to be covered in your absence and you’ve started hiring a team, your next step is to redistribute your tasks to the appropriate team members and contractors.
Once they know what their responsibilities are, it’s up to you to start doing as much advance prep work as possible.
For example, if you’ll still want to continue publishing your content (blog posts, vlogs, podcast episodes, newsletters, social media updates, etc.), you can write those in advance based on the time period you’ll be away and have your team pre-schedule them into the appropriate channels, like Hootsuite or Buffer for social media or WordPress for blog posts. Alternatively, you can invite others to contribute and create content for you or re-use your vintage popular pieces.
When you are able to prepare in advance for your team, you can take time off confident that they are able to run the business without you.
5. Create a communication hub.
While you’re away, you’ll still need to be in touch with your team for any questions they might have or issues that may arise.
Some great communication hubs that allow messaging in real time are:
HipChat https://www.hipchat.com/ – HipChat helps your team stay in touch through instant messaging, screen sharing, video chats, and searchable chat rooms. You can also send attachments.
Slack http://slack.com/ – Slack allows you to create general and specific chat rooms for whatever your needs are. You can also send files, like attachments and pictures, through Slack and search archived conversations.
If you are using Asana or Evernote to manage your business, you can also use comments or team conversations features in Asana or Work Chats in Evernote.
By setting up a communication hub in advance, your team and you can rest assured that they can get in touch with you, and vice versa, while you’re away.
6. Create a reporting structure.
Besides answering questions and addressing issues, you’ll still want to be updated on how the business is doing.
Discuss how often you want to receive a report from the team and in what format.
For example, please update me every Friday via email and once a month through video chat.
Create a checklist of items to be included in your report — like traffic metrics, specific areas of business, progress on specific projects or financials.
When you create a reporting structure, you can rest assured that things are still moving smoothly and guide the ship when necessary.
7. Give Everyone a Heads Up.
Before you take your maternity leave, think of the people who need to know that you will be away and out of communication:
You can do this through a simple email prior to your maternity leave and create an email autoresponder during your absence.
When you make sure to keep people in the loop, you can avoid potential future emergencies and requests while you’re away and help people in your circles stay up to date.
8. Test the setup.
Instead of testing the team model when the baby comes, allow some time for you to get “off the grid” and see how the team manages the business.
A test run for a week or two should be sufficient to address snags in the process and refine guidelines.
When you test the setup, you make space for mistakes to occur early on, while you’re still available, so your team can feel more confident to take ownership while you’re away.
Creating a Foundation for Trust
It can be difficult to let go of the daily routine of your business – no matter how excited you are about a new addition to the family – and that might mean you feel compelled to show up for both your business and the baby.
Resist the urge to check your email and push projects forward since you’ve already equipped your team to take care of it.
Trust that you’ve covered your bases and that our team will hold down the fort while you’re away.
Back to You
What items from the list above need your attention so you can be fully present for your family during your maternity leave?
On the other hand, if you have already gone through the balancing act of managing a business and newborn, look back, could you have been better prepared? What lessons have you learned?