If you run your own business or you’re a freelancer then the thought of taking maternity leave can be pretty scary. You can’t tell your employer to just keep your job open for you whilst you are off, and statutory maternity pay is all the help you are going to get financially! But the great thing is, you have eight months to plan for it (depending on when you found out!). When I started planning for my maternity leave – I felt like this…
But, I soon realised that taking time off would be possible if I was organised.
For me, as a business owner, I already have a team of great people who help me run the company, but I did need to ensure that they were going to be ready to run the entire operation for a few months while I’m off-duty. That’s a big responsibility and a big ask. This is how I tackled it all…
Prepping the team
I already have a great team so this has been easy for me, but over the past few months, every time something has come up on an ad-hoc basis that only I can deal with, I have made a note of it. That way I know of all the little things I do without thinking and can start to delegate them to various team members. I want to make sure the team have had a taste of working without my input before I leave so I am giving them all projects to work on without me being involved to see how they manage. This is really important for pattern releases, as I am very involved with those. The business can’t come to a complete standstill whilst I am off so we all need to be confident that the same quality of work can be produced without me.
One of the main things I do for the business is come up with the creative ideas and product releases. I design all the patterns, kits, books, etc. So I have made sure that we have enough content to come out for the whole of the year, so even when I do come back, there will still be a buffer of a few months before I will need to get busy creating new patterns. The team will then work on putting these together whilst I am away. This was particularly important for Sew Over It because I model everything, so we had a small window before I started showing to shoot everything on me for the following year. As for other content such as blog posts and videos, we will be stockpiling these, at least for a couple of month’s worth so there won’t be a big gap without anything going up.
I am planning on putting together a massive list of ‘what if’s’ so that the team have a list of things they can refer to for emergencies. We do this for when I am on holiday but I think it will be a bit longer now!
A list of red flag situations is something I also want to put together. So that they know when to sound the alarm bells and get into action to fix a situation.
If you are a workaholic like me and your business is also your baby, the idea of completely switching off is not realistic. Just because I have a baby does not mean I will stop caring about the business. Currently, I am working out a way of getting a weekly update from the team so I know what is going on whilst I am off. We are also agreeing on timeframes for anything that will need my input that we just can’t get around. I think the pressure of deadlines is what would make me stressed. Ask me to get back to you within a week and that is possible, but ask me to get back that same day and it’s just not happening. And forget about asking me anything for the first 2-4 weeks after the birth! During that period, I’m sure that I really will need to be switched off!
Being organised and communicating!
I think doing all the above is simply just being organised, proactive, and thinking everything through carefully. Personally, I feel better if I know everyone knows what is expected of them and I am sure they do too. Managing expectations is also important. By having lots of chats with everyone before I go, I’m sure we will all feel a lot more confident.
I will update this post or rather write a follow-up post once I am on maternity leave – it will be interesting to see what happens!
I’m wearing the Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse in these photos.