It’s Possible: Three Ways to Sustain Your Business While Pregnant in a Pandemic
Like millions of small business owners, the global pandemic forced me to press pause on my grand plans and adapt to unanticipated changes. As a coach working full-time in New York State, the initial epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., that meant I had to halt two-thirds of my business — in-person workshop facilitation and speaking engagements.
To be honest, I didn’t mind the detour. Spending more time at home would give me extra hours to re-organize my client outreach strategy, re-work my annual revenue goals, and revamp my virtual flow for serving clients across the globe. However, as I finally finished the arduous effort of restructuring my company’s priorities, something else happened — I got pregnant.
This was a curveball. While I had simultaneously birthed babies and built my business — validating that I had what it took to be an unrelenting mompreneur — I didn’t take into account a number of things for baby #3, e.g. a trimester of debilitating nausea, increased anxiety from news reports about COVID-19, and the isolation from loved ones taking a toll on my mental health.
Not only did I feel like I was behind on every new goal, I also felt immense shame and guilt for not getting it all done — the plight of so many women managing work and family duties. Fears of failure came back to haunt me, and I was rattled. To snap out of my funk, I coached myself — I activated my inner courageous warrior and channeled my role model Oprah Winfrey to view this situation as a teaching moment. I asked myself this question:
What is this pandemic pregnancy trying to show me?
I'm here to share three valuable lessons I’ve gathered. During a period of increasing uncertainty for moms and business owners, these tips serve as a reminder that we can all benefit from ongoing support.
1) Ask for more help.
Flying solo will not get you far if you’re seeking long-term business growth. What can you outsource?
Trying to control every aspect of my business as a soon-to-be mom-of-three was both unrealistic and unsustainable. I could neither operate nor scale my business to the level of success I imagined if I didn’t subcontract my list of carry-over tasks.
So, I reached out to peers who provided business consulting and referrals to outsourcing services. It was tough to trust others with my business baby, but once I did, I knew that I could never turn back to juggling all the things.
2) Set firmer boundaries.
The pandemic upended the workflow and wellness of women everywhere. With more to manage, it’s crucial that you reassess your limits and assert your needs.
When the shutdown happened, I found myself doing even more of the cooking and cleaning — tasks that were zapping my energy big time. I knew this was disruptive to my workflow, so I conducted an audit of where my time was going. Once my to-dos were visible on paper, I confirmed that I was headed toward a horrifying collapse.
I immediately declared to my spouse that I needed help with meal prep, designated spaces in my home for mommy-only time, politely declined invitations to collaborate on projects, and blocked out extra hours on my calendar for taking naps. I quickly let go of residual mom guilt because I knew that if I didn’t set physical and emotional boundaries to tend to my work and self-care, I’d burn out.
3) Ditch perfection to show up as you are.
You can still produce quality work without scrutinizing every detail. Give yourself permission to put yourself out there as-is and resist the temptation to appear flawless.
Morning sickness and disruptive fatigue became a part of my new reality — and it didn’t look cute. So, I finally allowed myself to show up as-is on Zoom calls, virtual networking events, and social media videos. “As-is” meant abandoning a face full of makeup, submitting deliverables with an “I did my best” attitude, and ditching my over-prepared perfectionist in meetings.
At first, I thought these shifts would ruin my reputation, but to my surprise, folks were extremely compassionate and understanding. Keeping it real about the strains of my pregnancy while giving myself grace to show up imperfectly was exactly what I needed to make progress toward my goals.
Reevaluating your personal and professional limitations to get more support requires patience and practice. By employing these three strategies, especially in a global crisis, you’ll ultimately help your business AND your family prosper.
Shanita Liu is a TEDx speaker, courage coach, reiki master, and mom of three. As the CEO of Coach Shanita, Inc. she teaches people how to activate courage and say bye to burnout so that they can live victorious lives. Her work has been featured in Thrive Global, Medium, and Brown Girl Magazine. Connect with her on LinkedIn and her message of activating courage at www.coachshanita.com/courage.