So you spent your energy, a shiz load of time, and a whole lotta hope on creating a business with no borders. The idea was that you get to live the dream and work from home, on your own schedule, with just you as boss. You get to take coffee dates, sleep in, work late and have more flexibility than Simone Biles. You also know there’s some wiggle room for when you decide to bring a baby into the mix…..but how do you actually prepare for that?
When I was preparing our business for my own maternity leave people kept saying, “You can’t ever prepare for a baby.” Even though that’s true with regards to your little human, I wholeheartedly disagree when it comes to your business. You don’t have to go into your leave (whether it be for a baby, a sabbatical or time off for health) blind. In fact, you can go into it with a solid blueprint and business manual for how things will run while you’re away.
First, let’s go over some general ideas of what is easiest to prepare before you go on leave so you can get an idea of the areas in your own business that need your attention.
- Write a shiz ton of content. We’re talking blog posts, emails, autoresponders, and social media posts.
- Gather your media. If you need blog graphics or social media images, gather them all now.
- Figure out your funnels. What does the process look like when someone purchases from you? How can you make every single step of that automated so you can still make that cha-ching while you’re gone?
- If you’re a service based business, figure out when you will be taking on new client work (like the actual date) and post up on your website that you’re booked until then.
- Start communicating about your leave to your audience, clients and customers. Make it clear well in advance that you’re going to be away, how long you’ll be gone for, and to what degree you’ll still be involved during that time.
- If you have a team, start chatting with them about their responsibilities and how they can reach out to you if there’s a fire.
- If you’re a one woman team, consider hiring a short term VA. It might sound counter productive to be bringing on a brand new person when you’re about to be away, but this role can help you out a ton if you let it.
Okay, so now let’s talk about the systems that help everything that we just listed actually fall into place. Most of these systems are free or offer free trials that might just get you through your leave. A few of them cost, but if you break down the time you’re saving to not have to actually do the task then you’ll come out on top.
You actually doing the work. So this is the biggest tool and one that cost nothing but your time, but it’s the one people just don’t do. We know you have 1.67 million other things to focus on right now (especially if you’re prepping for a baby), but this is the one you’ll thank yourself for the most when it comes to it. Carve out time in your schedule to work on leave related tasks so you don’t feel like you’re taking away from things that need your attention now. Then just do it.
Trello. Specifically Trello for Business. If you feel scattered now, then you’re definitely going to feel scattered when you’re working on tasks that need your attention now and tasks that aren’t coming out for a few weeks or months. The biggest prevention of things getting done is not knowing what to work on when. Don’t let the overwhelm stop you, get inside Trello for Business and get organized.
Google Docs and Google Drive. Having separate folders for all the content you’re about to write will help your brain not explode later. Trust us, before my leave we wrote almost 20 blog posts, over 30 emails, and recorded 15 podcast episodes. Having everything in Drive makes it searchable, so even if you forget where you saved it you can still find it. It also makes it super easy to link to a card inside Trello if you’re communicating with a VA about any of that content.
Later. This is the app we use to prep all of our Instagram posts and we love it. It’s free and has a lot of cool features that we touch on in this post. Here’s a quick tip: even if you don’t have the headspace to write all the captions right now, at least write the prompt. For instance, you might type in Later “plug blog post about _____” or “remind people to join Facebook community”. This will at least give you a frame of reference later when you can’t think of anything to say.
Tailwind. You could easily load up 3-6 months of pins in an hour by using your content and the content of similar industries. This is a paid tool, but at just $9/month it pays for itself the first time you load up your Pinterest queue and don’t have at it for 6 more months.
A whiteboard. Hey, this one you can pick up at Target so you can also browse the dollar spot while you’re there. This is one tool we didn’t have when we were prepping for my leave and it’s one I wished we had. When you’re working on things in your business this far into the future and this much in detail it’s sooooooo easy to feel like you’re spinning your wheels. A whiteboard will help you map everything out in a flowchart or sequential order so you can wrap your head around everything.
A process specific VA. So this makes sense for any period in your business, but especially when you might be stepping away for a good amount of time. What I mean by process specific, is that you shouldn’t expect to hire on a VA that does email, blogging, customer service and social media. That’s way too much for you to delegate right now and it’s almost guaranteed that one (or more) of those balls will drop. Instead, focus on a specific process that takes a ton of your time for you to finish. For instance, can you churn out a ton of blog posts, but get stuck on uploading and formatting them on your blog? Hire a VA to do that part for you and you’ll love life again.
Need more ideas on how to automate the heck out of your business? Enroll in our free course.
The key thing to remember is that you can have a ton of flexibility and freedom if you set your business up properly. This stuff isn’t just going to prep itself, boss! In the 12-14 weeks leading up to my maternity leave I worked harder than I ever have. I got up early and worked a little late. I spit out blog posts, chugged coffee and got so far ahead I forgot what month it was (true story).
But then come January, when my babe was due, I was done. I rested without stress. I snuggled without thinking about Instagram, our email or the blog. And we made money.
And it was heaven.
Heck, even if you aren’t heading out on maternity leave we encourage you to implement some of these systems and tools to see how your business can run without your constant attention. You’ve got this, babe!