How to prepare for parental leave as a business owner

Having your own company often means that you have a hand in practically every part of your business. You have worked hard to build up awareness of your services and being away for months can feel intimidating. The goal is to use the months before baby arrives to prepare your business to work more or less independently from you, prepare your finances and mentally get ready for what comes next. Even if 9 months can feel like a long time, it is good to take things slow and make sure you have time to train anyone who will be helping you out and put everything in place at a comfortable pace.


All the tips we discuss here work just as well if you want to take a sabbatical or if you just want to outsource parts of your business to focus on the things you enjoy the most.


OVERVIEW:


  • Plan what you want your days away to look like

  • Plan your finances

  • Make a list of all the tasks in your business

  • How long will you be away?

  • Find your team and train everyone

  • Set up the communication

  • Inform your clients

  • Be realistic and kind to yourself


Plan what you want your days away to look like


Before we start, we want to think about what an ideal situation could look like. That way we have a goal to build towards. Are you planning to be 100% off the grid or are you ok answering emails twice a week? How long will your leave be? What kind of support can you expect from your family and friends?


Make sure to be realistic in your planning and give yourself as much wiggle room as possible. If you find it difficult to estimate how much time you need away and what your days will look like, try talking to family or friends who have had a baby before. Even watching Youtube videos or listening to podcasts about parents who recently had a baby can help you get a better feeling for what you can expect.


If you are taking a sabbatical, consider what your goal with the time away is. Are you looking for inspiration, rest or maybe exploring a new city to live in?


Plan your finances


An important factor that can decide how long you can be away are your finances. Start by checking with your government what support you can get while you are home. Most countries have a support based on your previous income with a base level if you have had low or no income. How long you get the support for and the split between the mom and partner also differs between countries. In some countries, you might also be entitled to support from your employer if the company offer parental leave support.


Once you know what financial support is available, start to look at how much you need to save in order to have a comfortable time away from work during your leave. Now is a great time to look over your spending and see if there are any unnecessary costs you can reduce or get rid of completely. You never know how you will feel once your baby is here so try to have a buffer of a few months longer than you expect in case you want to be home for longer.


If you will be hiring someone to help out full or part time while you are away, start collecting quotes from people now so you can budget for this.


Make a list of all the tasks in your business


The next step is to consider all the things that need to get done day to day in your business. If you are the person doing them now, you might not even be aware of all the tasks you do each day, week or month.


Start by thinking about the different kinds of tasks. I like to block things in to:


  • Marketing and sales

  • Admin

  • Project work

  • Customer service

  • Strategy and business growth


Once you have all your tasks, see what you can automate while you are gone (such as scheduling your social media posts using a tool like Later), what you want to keep doing yourself and what you need to outsource. Knowing ahead of time what you need outside will allow you to budget for this and find the right person before you go on your leave.


How long will you be away?


This question is very personal and there is no right or wrong answer. Some people like to be away full time for the first number of months or years and then transition to a part time home/work setup. Make sure to keep your team updated while you are away so they know if you decide to extend your time away or come back sooner.


Find your team and train everyone


Now that you know all the tasks you need help with, you can start to create a job description and instructions for the people you bring onboard. A little bit of upfront training will go a long way towards helping your new team run your business according to your brand and values.


I like to use Notion to set up a wiki with common questions, instructions and all the necessary login information that someone might need while I am away. This way, there is always a place to check before reaching out directly to you during your leave.


Set up the communication


You want your team to be able to contact you and possibly each other easily while you are away. To help make the day to day smoother, try setting up a chat tool like Slack where you can store all your conversations and log in when you feel ready to answer questions.

A tool like Kayla can also be great to help your remote team work together on content.

Inform your clients


Before you leave, it can be a good idea to let your clients know that you will be away and explaining how things will work. If you already have a team and someone will take over as the primary contact person, consider making an introduction ahead of time.


Even if you will still be the face of the company and still manage projects, it can be a good idea to let your clients know that you might not respond as fast as usual while you are on your leave.


Be realistic and kind to yourself


Going on parental leave is a big adventure and you will have plenty of things to occupy your time and mind with while you are away. It is therefore a good idea to remove as many work related musts as possible beforehand and give yourself time to enjoy your time away. Listen to yourself and make decisions that feel right to you. Everyone is different and it is ok to not agree with advice you get or to change your mind on when to go back to work once you are away.


Best of luck and we would love to hear your story and what worked for you! Join our Facebook community for creatives and let us know your thoughts.

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