My Business is Growing Slowly – Is That A Problem?

I have an important confession to make.

Just because I run a website about how to be a successful Freelance Mom doesn’t mean I haven’t had my share of hiccups and doubts along the way.

But the one that I have noticed the most, that also plagues many other Freelance Moms I know, whether mentees or friends, is how to handle constantly being pulled in two directions: being a mom and building a business.

You Are Not Just an Entrepreneur, So Adjust Your Expectations

Penelope Trunk, a freelance writer, blogger and serial entrepreneur, had a stay-at-home husband in her early start-up days.

But after her divorce, when she founded Brazen Careerist (a composite blog that can be a great way for entrepreneurs and freelancers to make their voices heard), she had to find a better way to balance being a mother with being a tech entrepreneur and decided to cut her hours from around 100 or more like 50 or 60 per week.

More startling than the number of hours a “family-focused” start-up founder puts in was the feedback from her board. They agreed she should take a pay cut as a result.

As Freelance Moms, most of us don’t want to work 40 hours, let alone 50 to 60 or 100+, but it’s important to understand the sheer commitment of hours typically required to get a company off the ground.

Most people founding start-ups literally work from the moment they wake until the moment they go to bed to get their company running and profitable in 18 months or three years.

If it usually takes a team of people working that long and hard to bring a new company to success, why are we beating ourselves up if it takes us a year or more to develop our first product? Or more than one month to sign our first client?

The Intrinsic Paradox of Being a Freelance Mom

Not everyone in the world is cut out to run her or his own business. You need to be the boss, the employee, the admin, the accountant, the project manager, and the sales and marketing team. Though you can of course outsource many of these tasks, the fact remains that it takes a certain type of person to set out on her or his own to create their own income stream.

So by choosing to become Freelance Moms in the first place, we naturally have a drive to dream, to build, and to work hard at something until we succeed.

There lies the inherent challenge in being a Freelance Mom.

We are creating our own businesses not just because we want them to succeed, but because we want to create something that succeeds AND allows us to spend more time with our families than a traditional job.

Setting these parameters makes the normally difficult task of starting a business even harder because we are expressly limiting how we approach the task of setting up a new business.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to be a Freelance Mom. Just that it’s harder than starting a regular business.

At the same time, we know we can do it because the reward, having a business that supports our families while allowing us to spend time with them, is worth it.


There is a friction between being driven and organized enough to start your own business and holding yourself back in the process.

Time Can’t Always Equal Money

One of my friends told me she has been really hard on herself about her business because she knows that she is capable of doing it but can’t put in the time to get it where she wants to be because she feels pulled in two directions: mom and work.

When she is working on her business, she feels guilty she is not spending time with her family, but when she is spending time with her family, she feels bad because her business suffers from neglect.

It can feel like 20 or more times a day we come to a T-intersection where we must choose between these two directions.

We may have big plans for our companies, but big plans take big investment.

We have created or are creating these businesses because we want to put in less time and create something flexible, but that naturally means that things will go slower than they would in a normal business.

There is nothing wrong with going slow unless you tell yourself it is.

Only you know what is an optimal and ideal day for you, and that knowledge may only come through trial and error, but there are some small things that you can tell yourself or do every day to make the guilt, indecision, or disappointment weigh less on you until your find your own balance.

3 Ways to Make Things Easier on Yourself

  1. Look at how your time investment plays out in the long-term to set realistic expectations for yourself. For myself, I know that if I can only dedicate 10 or 15 hours a week to my business, that means it will take me 4 years to achieve what I usually would in one. It’s striking when you look at it on that scale, but it can also be comforting. If I see an online marketer get an e-book written and launched in two months, I know it should take me at least eight, not two.
  2. Take one weekend day off completely and designate it sacred family time. On this day, do not even think about work or other obligations. Go to the park, the pool, or sit around and play. Many find this an instrumental part of their balance.
  3. Set a minimum viable input for your business each day. Businesses talk a lot about minimum viable product—the point where the least investment meets the greatest financial return. Each day (or better yet, the night before), distill all of the things you could do for your business into 3-5 tasks that will keep your business moving forward that day, whether reaching out to a new potential client, delivering a proposal to a prospect, or delivering something. Cut through the things you’d like to do and focus on what will definitely move your business forward. Make sure you get these few tasks out of the way each day, even if you can’t find time for any real “work,” so that you feel like your business is moving forward even while you focus on family.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Stein owns, is a college business professor and a mom to Gabriela and Elle. Lisa is dedicated to playing a part in helping women and moms run a business they love, help support themselves and their family and create a flexible lifestyle. You can find her online on Facebook and Twitter or at home burning something in the kitchen.