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By Bev van Nijkerk, 25 July 2014
What will happen to the business if you take time off? Will your clients be prepared to wait around? Will a competitor seize the gap and grab your market share? Bev van Nijkerk, segment specialist for Sanlam Young Professional Market, looks at what you need to consider.
To start with, ‘momtrepreneurs’ should ensure they’ve considered all the facts and scenarios carefully. “You can’t make an informed decision without first speaking to your financial planner, your accountant, your business partner and your family about the potential impact of taking some time off. What’s going to happen to your cash flow if you aren’t there for a few months? Will your clients be understanding? You need to weigh up all the options and then decide what both you and your business can realistically afford,” says Van Nijkerk.
Next, Van Nijkerk suggests drawing up a proper maternity leave plan outlining a course of action for your business. The sooner you can do this, the better – ideally even before falling pregnant, when you still have lots of time to prepare. Things to include:
Besides a plan for your business, you’ll also need your own personal financial strategy – it’s best to draw this up in consultation with your financial adviser. Here, you’ll need to consider:
“The bottom line is that you need to plan, plan, plan. Don’t rush into anything before you’ve made proper provision for both your business and yourself. Whether or not you can take time off and for how long, and taking care of the financial implications involve making informed decisions. You essentially have two ‘babies’ to consider – your business and your baby. Make sure they both receive the attention they deserve,” Van Nijkerk concludes.
Adri van der Westhuizen (30) runs a specialised media agency called Get Set Go Media, which does media bookings in Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho and Botswana. She fell pregnant shortly after starting her business in 2010. Working from her home office in Stellenbosch, she employed a part-time assistant for eight months. However, she remained involved in her business, and ensured she still saw her key clients.
“I realised I had to design my own life to make sure I get to everything. It is very important to stay on top of what’s going on in your business and not to lose track of anything.”
Audrey Botha (37) started her business, Papillon Belle Butterfly Jewellery, in 2011. She sells her pieces to online shops, and most of her clients are international. She is expecting her first baby in September, and plans to take three months off afterwards. Her husband, James, is in the film industry, and as this industry down intil November, he will help with admin and some business processes. She also has an assistant who will run her studio under supervision. Her distributor in Australia and New Zealand will also continue to market the range in those countries.
“Some things will have to wait during my time off. I do expect some loss of income. My business relies on me to seek new channels for distribution and to do promotional work, so my time away may impact sales. But because I work from home, I will be able to handle any major crises that arise.”
Amanda Stergianos (41) of Cape Town started a digital social media business while still living in London in 2002. She was the co-founder of SAReunited.com, the biggest database of South Africans around the world, YesNoMayB.com (an online dating site) and SAPeople.com. Her second daughter was born shortly afterwards. During the time she spent with her baby, her business partner took over some of the management processes, and she employed the services of assistants who could work independently, on a retainer basis. She also automated certain business processes by using online tools, and held regular meetings with key stakeholders via Skype.
“For your own peace of mind when you can’t be as hands on as you’d like to be, you have to surround yourself with the right calibre of people. They must be able to take ownership, love what they do, have good interpersonal relationships, and want your business to succeed. You may need to give them a vested interest in your business, such as a share of your revenue.”
Hermanus-based Claire Minnaar is the developer and owner of several online businesses, including the highly successful Momtrepreneur.co.za, a platform where working mothers can share ideas and business information. She is mom to Ethan (5) and Jake (2). She has the following tips for managing both your pregnancy and your business:
Note: Claire’s other projects includes one of South Africa’s largest online wedding directories, Celebration.co.za, EventFocus.co.za (a South African event planning directory), WeddingFocus.co.za (a wedding photography directory for South African photographers), Greenminded.co.za and TrouInspirasie.co.za (Afrikaans wedding directory). She also runs an online course called G-School.