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I can’t tell you how often I’m asked, “How do you do it all?” The minute someone finds out that my husband and I are raising five (count them, five) children and that I simultaneously operate my own full-time business from our “house on a hill,” the eyebrows go up, the mouth goes agape and the question spills out of it like clockwork.
“Juggling” family and work life … finding “work-life balance” … making time for “self-care” — these buzzwords are so ubiquitous in our culture these days that they border on stale and cliché, right? Wrong.
Everyone talks about these themes everywhere — on podcasts, in blogs, in books, at brunch, and around the conference table — because they matter; they are fundamental and hold weight. They’re keeping people sane and grounded in a world that’s moving so fast with so many stimuli popping up on our screens every moment that we’re all at risk of drowning in our to-do lists and product management software.
So how do I do it? How do I nurture my family and drive my business to thrive simultaneously every single day of my life? The answer lies in the people with whom I surround myself. Without them, I’m just an actor standing on a stage reciting my lines to no one, the ship’s captain, without any crew to keep it afloat. If you, too, have a tremendously busy work life and an equally busy home life, here are the principal players I recommend to transform your “team” into your own “personal tribe.”
The 5 key players you need to make the whole engine go
Key player #1: A bad-ass bookkeeper: Having a pro onboard to help me with the financial aspects of business has been integral to the growth of my PR firm. Not just integral, downright critical. In fact, my bookkeeper was my first hire, even before a receptionist or an assistant, because I knew what I didn’t know — balancing the books, payroll and fiscal analysis just aren’t my thing. The woman I first brought on as my bookkeeper became my trusted financial consultant and is now my CFO.
I’d be lost — literally, cross-eyed lost — without her. But with her, I put my babies to bed at night with a calm head and heart. Get yourself a finance dynamo; the cost will pay for itself in the first year.
Key player #2: A fabulous first mate: To work productively and create room for your business to evolve, every boss needs a right-hand man they can count on implicitly. In my case, a right-hand woman. I met mine when she was still in college, a shy and sweet student who somehow managed to tolerate the mad rush that was swirling around me and add order to my disorder. We have now grown into full-blown colleagues who respect and rely on each other equally. She has been with me through thick and thin, through all the ups and downs, and she’s why I can leave the office whenever I need to take the kids to soccer practice. Find a true partner, and you’ll never feel alone in your business.
Key player #3: An ultra-supportive life partner: Speaking of partners, having one outside of work isn’t necessary to run a prosperous business, no, but when there’s someone at home sharing “holding down the fort” duties with you, it makes all the difference between happy-making and crazy-making. My husband brings me so much happiness and puts up with all my crazy … I can’t imagine traveling this journey without him — without his co-parenting presence, strength of commitment and extensive business know-how. I follow his lead in how to scale and grow my firm and our family. And I rest easy at night with our kids sleeping soundly down the hall because I have this incredible partner, both in and out of business, by my side. If you have one, too, you know what I mean.
Key player #4: A meticulous mistake-catcher: Finances aren’t my jam, and neither are all the minuscule details of business ownership that would otherwise block my flow and blur my vision. I work fast and furious; in the process, a trail of typos litter my emails and drafts. I don’t worry too much about my frenetic scribblings making their way into my own employees’ inboxes. But into my clients’? That’s a no-no. Enter my amazing editorial team. You only need one eagle-eyed stickler in your tribe to serve as your filtering mechanism — to weed out the mistakes and ensure accurate and polished deliverables — but if you’re lucky enough to have more than one, as I am, more power to you. I don’t mean that figuratively. Finding someone who will tend to all the technicalities that weigh on you and slow you down equates to the freedom to create, expand and sore. (I mean soar.)
Key player #5: Seasoned pros (whom you sometimes season yourself): As a novice entrepreneur, it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say I’d stand on the street to find people I liked and just invite them to join my team. You’d be amazed how many people will say “yes”! So I ended up with a group of great people willing to do my bidding, but they were green. Very green. Now, they’re not. Now, they’ve blossomed into extremely talented specialists, each in their own right. I’d like to be able to take credit for finding eminently teachable people ripe for my training, but they’re responsible for most of their own evolution. To free some time for your family, to leave room to pack the lunches and then take a bubble bath, look for self-motivated, open-minded, goal-oriented go-getters who desire to stay loyal to you and learn from you. In the end, you’ll all learn together.
I learned quickly as a young businesswoman to bolster my own shortcomings with the strengths of others and to hire people who excel at things I don’t. I encircle myself — both at work and at home — with a support system that holds me up, builds me up and allows my business to shine. Start with this suggested cadre of key players for your long game, and you’ll have a tribe of shining stars, too!