My name is Brittany, and I am the maker behind Goldfinch Signs where I create hand-painted, hand-lettered wooden signs. I am so excited that I was asked to be a guest blogger on the topic of integrating family and running your own business. While I am by no means an expert, I hope that my story can be of some use to you!
I opened up Goldfinch Signs about 5 months ago, and it has been a wild ride since the beginning. My husband and I welcomed our first child in May 2014. I quit my job to stay home with her, and the transition was harder on me than I imagined. I had always dreamed of being a stay at home mom (in fact, when I was 8 years old I was a mom of twins for Halloween), so when I had my daughter, I couldn’t wait to fulfill what I saw as my calling. I quickly discovered that being home full time wasn’t the walk in the park I thought it would be. Not only was it demanding due to the fact that I had a newborn, but it took a toll on me mentally and emotionally. I thought that if I stuck it out, it would get better, but, while I love motherhood, my sense of self never really adjusted. After about a year of not feeling like myself, I decided that I needed to do something about it.
I have always been creative and loved painting, so it seemed natural for me to do something in that realm. My husband and I were new homeowners, so I started creating signs to decorate our house. It dawned on me one day that maybe creating theses signs was something that I could pursue as a business. With that thought, Goldfinch Signs was born.
The first month that I was open, I only had a few orders. I made my first few signs and painted them at our kitchen counter while my daughter played in the living room. Then, a large order came in. I suddenly realized that I might be in over my head. I had a huge number of signs (about 50) to paint, an 18-month old who needed constant attention and refused to sleep, and a husband who worked full time and was in a very intense Master’s program. I needed to figure something out, and quickly.
I started studying how other people made it all work. Motherhood isn’t easy, and, let’s face it, a business is essentially another baby. Yet, I saw all these women who made it look like they had it all. I swallowed my pride, reached out to a few of them, and was surprised to find out that they all felt just as out of control as I did. Their advice to me, and the advice I’ll pass to you, was this: hang in there, everything ebbs and flows, and you’ll find your footing soon. That has been so true for me. Looking back on that first month, I was a disaster. I got everything done, but I hardly slept, was stressed, and felt like everything was crumbling around me. When I allowed myself to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation, I realized that the whole reason I had started my business was to have something I enjoyed doing. If it wasn’t enjoyable for me, it wasn’t worth doing.
These days, I’ve learned to let some of my Type A tendencies slide a little bit. I think that’s key, especially if you’re in a stage of life with young kids at home. Recognize that not everything is going to get done, and that’s okay. Every day, I make a list of three things that need to happen that day. That includes things in the home, and with my business. Having that list allows me to focus on just a few things without being overwhelmed by the big picture. Throughout my day, I can go back to that list when I have a few moments, and allow that list to give me direction. If it’s a good day and I knock those three things out quickly, I add another three. I also decided that I didn’t want my business to take me away from my daughter. The whole point of me quitting my job was so that I could be with her. Although it is hard, and sometimes I break my own rule, I try really hard to not do anything business related while I’m with her. For me, that means that I work like a mad woman at night after she goes to sleep (as I sit here typing this, it’s 1:44 AM). The late nights when I’m able to just sit and create are refreshing for me, and give me some time to myself. It’s when I’m the most productive because I don’t have to worry about anyone or anything else.
Above all, I think the secret is that there is no secret to integrating your family and your business. It may not be the popular answer, or even what you were hoping to hear, but it’s the truth. While the tips above work for me, they may not work for you, and that’s okay. The fact of the matter is that we’re all just here, working as hard as we can at everything that we do to make it all work.
You can find Goldfinch signs in the following places:
This post is part of our Parenting and Running a Small Business Series. Check out other posts in this series: