This week, continuing our summer theme of taking a break from business, Val Geisler dishes about how she took a three-month maternity leave—that improved her business.
Val is a systems strategist, so it’s no surprise she kept things running smoothly during her three-month break. But she wants you to know how to take a break too.
Start with a Plan
I started planning my leave early in my pregnancy. I’m a big believer in “hire slow, fire fast” so I took about 4 months interviewing, testing out, hiring, and training the contractors who were taking over for me during my leave.
My plan was to set up my team and then not to work at all, aside from weekly check-ins during my two months off. I had my team update me weekly and let them know I’d reply if and when it was needed. If I worked at all, it would be on my business, not my clients’ businesses.
I also made sure that I wasn’t planning any big shifts in my business any time close to my maternity leave. A lot of business owners feel pressure to increase their revenue to make up for the time away so they get stressed launching a new product or service in their third trimester. I knew, for many reasons, that wasn’t a wise move for me. Instead, I planned the revenue for the rest of the year to help balance out those lower months. I was also fortunate to have a supportive husband who (while not making a massive salary) was able to keep us afloat as a family for the months I was away.
I’ve outlined everything I did to prep for my maternity leave and show you how you can do it too in The Getaway Guide. In a series of 3 days, I’ll teach you exactly how you can set yourself up to have a little getaway from your business (for an extended leave like maternity or even just a week long vacation)—and it’s free! You can grab it right here.
Enjoy Lasting Effects
Taking time off allowed me to re-focus on what truly mattered to me. I also had to learn to put a lot of trust in others (and myself) that things would be okay without me there.
When I came back from my leave, I had handed off those tasks that I didn’t really want to be doing anyway, and I was able to focus on repositioning and growing my business in a whole new way. While I certainly had a business before I had a baby, I feel like I had a whole new business (and mindset to go with it) coming back from my maternity leave.
3 Tips for Mama CEOs Considering Maternity (or Other) Leave
- Take more time off than you think you’ll want or need.
You can always come back earlier, but trying to extend your time away is harder if the systems and team aren’t in place to support that. My maternity leave wasn’t as long as I needed. I planned 2 months off and really should have taken 3–4. When I came back to work, I wasn’t fully present until about month 4. Next time around I’ll plan at least 3 months.
- Be easy on yourself and work if you want to work.
I did some great writing on my iPad while I stood in the kitchen bouncing a sleeping baby in a sling. It was more restorative to write than to nap sometimes, so I went with it.
- Make your own rules—and break them, if you want.
The beauty of running your own business is that there aren’t any set “rules.” You can take a maternity leave for 3 weeks or 3 months or 3 years! Do what’s right for you and your family—and be flexible knowing that your entire plan could change once that baby is actually in your arms.
Your life changes when you have a baby. Your business just might too—and that may be a good thing.
Val has helped me out so much with systems and planning (and you KNOW I love a good plan.) Definitely check out her Getaway Guide—even if you are planning a vacation, not a maternity leave.
Val Geisler is a Client Experience + Systems Strategist with a passion for digital entrepreneurs. After over a decade behind the scenes of everything from non-profits to multi-six-figure businesses, Val has the innate ability to think big picture and minute details at the exact same time. While this skill is most often found in soaring bald eagles, Val puts it to work here on the ground with her clients as she crafts truly unique customer experiences that stand out. Her clients love shaking off the weight of the day to day and finding the space and time to build their dream businesses full of happy customers and endless referrals.