Many mums want to return to work part time after having a baby, but until recently the employment options have been limited. Part time work has often been low paid and didn’t allowed highly skilled and experienced women to make full use of their talents.
Thankfully that’s changing now. During the 2009 recession, many companies encouraged staff to go part time rather than make redundancies. This meant that part-time working became more ‘normal’, although unfortunately this was sometimes not by choice. Also, many highly experienced staff are now choosing to work part-time rather than fully retire. This means organisations can take advantage of that experience but without the cost of employing that person full-time.
With part-time working no longer necessarily meaning low-paid work, the opportunities are improving for mothers, too. It’s been clear for many years that traditional working patterns don’t sit easily with family life, but now there are trailblazers who are promoting more flexible ways of working including Juliet Turnbull, a former chartered surveyor who started a job site for mums who want to work two to three days a week. Some of the more traditional businesses such as consulting firms are offering part time job opportunities, for example Accenture offers part time working, job share and telecommuting.
How does this fit with running a business around a family? Well, some mums had little choice but to become self employed when their kids arrived – there simply were no other options. Having more employment choices is very welcome for those of us who’d rather be employed than self-employed.
But for those of us who do want to pursue our businesses, it can be a hard to care for a young family, start a business (including funding it) and make an income at the same time. A part time job that pays a decent wage gives you freedom to experiment with business ideas but without the pressure to make an income from your business from day one.
The part time job has been a life saver for many people – parents or not – who started businesses suddenly (say because they were made redundant or had a baby) but needed an income until the business was making enough profit to support them. But it’s not just about money. Starting a business from home can be isolating and gradually chip away at your confidence. A good part-time job that makes good use of your skills can keep your confidence levels up. If the job relates to your new business, you could even develop useful skills and contacts. Check your contract carefully to make sure your business activities are allowed and never try to ‘poach’ clients from your employer!
As you can see, you no longer need to be either 100% employed or 100% business owner. There are many options now that allow you to be a mixture of both as you transition from employed to self-employed or business owner. In fact, there are many benefits to taking this route including it being easier on your bank balance, work-life balance and stress levels!
Image: Bruce Mars