Being self-employed can be incredibly liberating. You are allowed to follow your passions and make your own rules. Being self-employed can also be incredibly burdensome. If you aren’t working, you aren’t making money.
When it comes to taking long periods of time off work, like maternity leave, self-employed women must be more prepared than women who get employer-paid time off. It’s not impossible, but it does take some careful consideration.
Here’s how to make the best of your maternity leave when you work from home.
Save, Save, Save
Some states offer paid family leave for self-employed women, but most don’t. If you don’t live in a state that offers this kind of disability insurance, it will be up to you to save money prior to your leave. Decide how much time you’d like to take away from work then plan your savings accordingly. Also, consider your future medical bills.
Everyone has heard the old adage a penny saved is a penny earned, but I’ve got a new one for you: a penny gifted is a penny saved. In other words, be smart about your baby shower registry. Yes, those frilly dresses and miniature tuxedos are adorable, but they are not practical or necessary. Ask friends and relatives for baby items that require a constant supply – diapers, wipes, and creams. The less money you have to shell out for daily expenses, the further your saved dollars will stretch.
Slow Down Prior to Leave
If you can’t stop work entirely for your maternity leave, slow business down to a manageable level before you have the baby. The 10-hour workdays you had pre-baby will not be sustainable post-baby. Don’t bring on any new clients. Work to close deals that are nearing completion. Communicate proactively with your remaining accounts to let them know you are reducing hours but are still dedicated to their needs.
Whether it’s expanding your current small team or adding a partner to your solo enterprise, hiring will help you maintain your business while you’re focused on the baby. Contract out some of your work if you can’t or don’t want to hire an employee. If your house is your usual business locale, consider renting a meeting space, so you don’t have to bring strangers into your newborn’s home.
Lean On Your Team
You hired them for a reason and now is the time to trust that you taught them well. Outline a plan for your absence and delegate must-do responsibilities to your team. Set up video or phone conferencing at home so you can still communicate with your team while you are away. Consider your spouse as part of your team and housework as part of your job-work. As a working mother, you can have it all — but you don’t have to do it all yourself.
Plan Ahead For Return
After you’ve slowed things down for yourself and spent blissful months bonding with baby, you’ll need to return to work, preferably in full money-making swing. In order to keep from having to dig yourself out of a black hole, you’ll need to plan ahead pre-baby to have work lined up for post-leave. This could mean communicating with current clients about upcoming projects that will fit into your future schedule or lining up new clients who may not be ready for you until you are off of leave.
Stepping away from a business that you’ve worked so hard to create can be a scary thought, but you won’t regret taking time to focus on your new baby. With proactive planning for your time away, your business will continue to thrive while you focus on what’s important.
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Anum Yoon is a personal finance blogger and writer who loves sharing her hard-earned insights about money management. She leads a green and eco-friendly lifestyle in an effort to do her part in the sustainability movement, as well as to reduce her budget. When she’s not typing away on her keyboard, you can find her at the gym or poring over a new Pinterest recipe. Check out what she’s sharing on Twitter or read her updates on her money blog, Current On Currency.