Maternity leave worries, the effect it might have on my business when I'm off.

(11 Posts)
Dougaltmr Sun 05-Jan-14 20:29:08

Hi ladies,
I'm new here, but know it's a good place to join! So here's where I'm at, before I begin I guess what I'm after here is advice from mums who have been in a similar situation and know how I feel, more of a friend thing I guess!
My partner is a typical bloke "don't worry" and friends and family are "your work is amazing you'll get straight back into it"
Neither actually understand my fears, probably because I don't actually need to worry but alas, My brain does not think like that!
So in a nutshell I took one huge leap of faith and started my own business to avoid going back to my awful job, my maternity leave gave me time to find this business, I am a sponge, I can turn my hand at anything, this wasn't a if I can this was an I can! In the end it was photography, and turns out I wasnt too bad, feel free to check me out on www.sj-photography.co.uk
I did this purely to be flexible with my beautiful daughter, fast forward to now, over two years later and I am a successful, in demand 25 year old Newborn Artistry Photographer.
I worked myself so hard last year that I ended up visiting the Drs, I had suffered a panic attack and spent a fair few days in bed with horrible anxiety. All down to working in over drive for too long. I didnt learn much as the rest of the year I worked solid, but getting married in Las Vegas and now having had two weeks off for Christmas it has stopped me going that far.
I am now 14weeks pregnant and so happy smile
But worried about taking 6months maternity and only having work for my ten keeping in touch days, people are already wanting to book, so days are flying fast...
Anyone else know how I'm feeling?! I know I'll have to turn away soo many clients and they will ultimately have to find alternatives or go for their second choices, boosting their business whilst mine remains very quiet. I want to not care, I want to enjoy my babies 6months, I wish my mind wasn't so "perfect" I want everything to work like well, clock work! And it never will... I want to be the best mum, to spend time with my children, but find it hard saying no to clients, anyone overcome this and now find it easy to say no and just enjoy life?! I love my life but just wish I didnt have so much attatchment to my business.
Sorry for this terribly long rant!
Thanks for reading (if you got this far!!)
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lekkerslaap Sun 05-Jan-14 21:41:14

Err... not really sure I understand the problem exactly. You clear your calendar for a couple of weeks before your due date and you keep it clear for however long you want off after the birth. You then schedule time in the calendar for when you want to work. If you are as successful as you sound then that time will fill up fast.

More than anyone in work, you are the boss and in control of your own time unlike the rest of us wage slaves...

Flibbertyjibbet Sun 05-Jan-14 21:52:42

Well you are self employed and maternity I leave doesn't work the same as employed people. If you choose not to work for 6 months then yes your business will suffer and you'll have to work at building it back up when you want to get back into it.

Many self employed people don't take 6 months off work but rather take a shorter time off after baby is born then work part time. Could you do more evening and weekend work while your husband is at home perhaps? Otherwise yes your business will suffer but unfortunately that's mat leave for self employed (sad)

Dougaltmr Sun 05-Jan-14 22:49:04

To lekkerslaap I was just after mums who felt like me, yes to everyone else it would seem that simple, stop work then return. But as I said, I have invested a lot of time, money and emotion into my business so being away from it would be hard for me, I just thought someone else could say, yes I felt that way too but it worked out fine or this is what happened to me etc...
In my previous job I had 9months off with my daughter, so I want to spend a good amount of time with my new baby as I don't want to regret it later in life, of course I understand it will suffer to a certain extent but I also don't want to go back too soon when I should be with my baby.
I will use my KIT days to work and may decide do return sooner, however I pay my national insurance so am entitled to maternity allowence so feel I should take it and be with my little one.
Thanks for the response, just after some ladies who feel tied between work and being a mum really and if they found it very hard on business or made it work.
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TheDoctrineOf2014 Sun 05-Jan-14 22:58:06

Ok, if you work photographing newborns then presumably you don't get regular repeat business (ie you might do a sibling but that would be 1-3 years later or whatever).

I would take it month by month - take2-3 months off completely then see how you feel about setting up the odd session - sounds like you may be able to take your baby along, or do it when your DH can look after the kids.

By the way, are you an employee of your company on a salary rather than a sole trader or paid partially through dividends?because I thought KIT days were more relevant for employees? Or is it to do with losing MA?

Dougaltmr Sun 05-Jan-14 23:06:45

I'm self employed, it's my own business. I downloaded the booklet off HMRC and self employed people are entitled to KIT days too, I am allowed to work these days, however if I work more than that I would loose out on MA.
I get a good amount of business, lots of babies and of course they often have update sessions at six and twelve months, as well as babies being born all the time.
I just feel a little worried I will have to battle with returning to work and not spending time with baby. It's silly, I know, it's just how my mind works.
Childcare isn't the issue, it's me spending time with my child versus keeping my business going.
I guess I will just have to take it as it comes.
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TheDoctrineOf2014 Sun 05-Jan-14 23:13:32

Are you a sole trader or a limited company?

I'd let the parents you are working with over the next few months know you are available for the 12 month update - maybe a special offer so they keep your card? Then you will have some potential customers on the back burner.

Dougaltmr Sun 05-Jan-14 23:19:15

Sole trader.
Yes ill have to have some offers and such I think.
Thanks for your reply.
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MrsMargoLeadbetter Mon 06-Jan-14 13:02:31

I am on mat leave and I get where you are coming from.

I am in a different field (marketing) but I concerned about not being on social media enough I don't want to look like I have ceased trading etc! A couple of my competitors have started new initiatives which if I was working I would react to & think about how I could do something of my own but I cannot really do that.

You are your business (as I am) so the stark truth is you either work or lose the business.

I have been on this board for a couple of years and this issue comes up now and then. I get the sense that most SE ppl go back sooner than later or suggested up thread work part-time to begin with.

I have taken 9 months as I did that with my DS. I have used a couple of my KIT days. My biggest fear was having to turn down lots of work, but that hasn't happened. However, a couple of contracts have appeared (thanks to previous work/contacts/recommendations) which I am about to start and will carry on beyond my mat leave, so actually is has all worked out ok.

If I were you I'd plan to take at least 3 months & maybe think about working 1 day (if you are asked) from then to the 6/9 month point? That way you get a break and still have some time for customers. As TheDoctorine suggests you can incentivise existing customers to come to you at a certain point which works for you.

Might also be worth setting up an arrangement with a fellow photographer for a % of any referrals you make whilst you are on pure mat leave?

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 06-Jan-14 16:10:59

Could you recruit someone to cover your maternity? You have 36 weeks to find the perfect person and really if you are that busy maybe now is the time to grow and take on someone else.
Remember at the moment all the business value is in you, without you the business is worthless. If you take on someone else train them in you way of doing things you will make your business more valuable and less reliable on yourself.

Dougaltmr Mon 06-Jan-14 19:50:04

Thanks for your input, much appriciated.
In regards to my business being lost etc I was hoping I wouldn't loose all custom and was hoping to, although be quieter, still get work upon my return.
Employing someone else just isnt an option Im afraid, for a few reasons, such as:
Business has been running for just over two years, in that time only now am I really looking into changing pricing dramatically, I love my job and a lot of my "pay" is job satisfaction although I do make enough money to be happy with, I couldnt afford another person and wouldnt want to train them to my exact standards as they may decided to use that as free training and start up themselves at a later point with all my personal touches, marketing and editing techniques, I am also proud of my business and happy for it to me just mine.
Here is what I am hoping to do, take all of July off (not untealistic as 4weeks is surely a must after giving birth) I am also under consultant care so cant be silly and over do it, I also rarely work during December, its my daughters birthday and Christmas so the first few weeks of Dec are usually tying up loose ends, arranging new year clients, editing and admin etc so I work but not actually doing shoots, so if I remove July and December that leaves me with 4months in which I have 10 days to work, if I simply keep my foot in the door for those months using my KIT days, updating my facebook page and website with my latest work then I assume my business will appear quieter yet still active?! I will also have the added bonus of taking my own babys photos which is unpaid of course so absolutely fine to take as many photos as I wish and upload them to social media etc so I would be active and updating work, it wouldnt matter that a lot is of my own children.
I would then use November to do a day of Christmas Sessions and as usual December I would simply do admin at my laptop/PC as and when. And prepare for my return in the New Year.
That is my ideal situation. I am hoping this works, I dont wish to be working so much that I become miserable again so in 2015 providing I get a few sessions a week I will be happy. My partner has a well paid job so I dont have to worry too much about having quieter periods.
I guess you could say I am worrying over nothing if that is the case, but theres still that feeling I have of me being forgotten. But I am a natural worrier and writing things down helps me a lot, so I do appriciated the response.
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