Colette Sexton, news correspondent at The Sunday Business Post, on how women can have a family and a career; it just takes some business blending.
It is not every author that can say that Richard Branson has read their book but then, Lorraine Murphy is special. The Irish woman and Australian resident started her first business, The Remarkables Group, in her home in 2012. The influencer marketing agency, which had clients including Woolworths, L’Oreal, Nissan, and Qantas, secured over $1 million in revenue in its first 12 months. Earlier this year, Lorraine sold the business, and now she is focused on being a full-time speaker and mentor, as well as an author. She has written two books; Remarkability (which she presented to Richard Branson when she was invited to Necker Island for a business trip) and Get Remarkably Organised (much of which she wrote during her daughter Lexi’s morning naps just after she was born), and is working on a third.
The third will take from her experiences as a mother trying to run a business, Lorraine said. She has found that many women, even those that are years away from starting a family, are worried about the impact that it might have on their careers.
“I’m currently writing my third book and it’s all about the business/baby blend. I fully believed that I was writing it for women like me who already had kids or kids were on the imminent horizon for them – however, a recent experience set me straight on that,” she said. After speaking to a group of 50 university students, a group of women formed around me. Their biggest question? How they could one day have a family and the career that they so wanted. These women were 20 and hadn’t even entered the workforce proper yet.”
This experience is not unique. A survey from Bustle earlier this year found that many women said that were extremely concerned about the effect that having children would have on their professional lives.
Lorraine’s best advice for those worried about blending parenthood with their careers (she refuses to use the term “juggling” as she believes it sets us up for failure), was to talk to women who are doing it.
“It’s not impossible. However, we cannot be what we cannot see – so actively seeking out women who are blending their business/career with their family is imperative. Once having a baby was on my agenda, I almost had a homing device to women who were running their own businesses and had families.”
While she said that it might seem counter-intuitive, she recommends not to over-plan.
“I did and it put myself, my husband and my team through the ringer when the pregnancy, that I assumed would happen immediately, didn’t – it actually took 18 months for our little girl’s soul to drop in. That 18 months saw countless shifts in strategy, hires and a bucket load of stress for me.”
It’s best for women to focus on their career and then start planning on how to blend a baby and work once they are actually pregnant.
“Nine months is a really long time and we women are nothing if not capable and resourceful.”
Also, just because a certain scenario works for other families, does not mean it will work for yours. As Lorraine says, every family is as unique as thumbprint.
“Create a force field around you what you choose to take on from other people’s well-meaning “advice” – whether that’s around how you work with a family, pregnancy or birth. It’s for you to write your own story, not for others to dictate to you what that story will be.”