How to Prepare for Maternity Leave When You are Self Employed

self employed maternity leaveI love being self employed.

I love setting my own schedule, making my own decisions and controlling my future.

My husband fielding calls from clients a couple hours after our son was born in the hospital room – NOT a great part of being self employed.

Business does not seem to care if you want to take a maternity leave, or for that mater get the flu or go on vacation!

Yet, there are things you can do to prepare your business and your finances for your maternity leave.

We will look at this from two directions – the finances part and then the business management part.

Preparing Your Business Financially

Unless you are already independently wealthy (way to go if you are, you can skip down to the how to run your business on maternity leave section), you will need to come up with a plan to have enough money to keep the business running and be able pay your personal bills.

The first step is to determine how long you are going to take maternity leave for.  This will let you know how much money you will need to plan for.  One nice part of being self employed is you can make this time frame fit your needs.

A couple of  examples:  I took three weeks off but then for the first few months after only worked two and a half days a week.  I had a friend who owned a salon, she took off two months and then added a half day, then a day and slowly worked back up to a full schedule over a few weeks.  (And her first week back was not with clients, just running the show so that she could leave if she was overwhelmed.)

Once you know how long you want to take off you can calculate how much income you will need at work and home to keep all the basics going.    Do this by reviewing your personal and business budget to determine what expenses are a necessity and what can be skipped.  Fancy dinners out can go but student loan payments, electricity and coffee are all needed!  (Lots and lots of coffee in fact!)

Don’t forget to build in a bit extra for unexpected emergencies that might take you out of work longer.  While we all want child birth to go great, if it does not and you don’t want to be scrambling for money or heading back to work early, so give yourself a bit of a cushion.

If you run a brick and mortar business or cannot put your business on hold, figure out how much it will cost you to pay employees or subcontractors to cover for your hours.  You will need to add this into your savings if it cannot be covered with profits during that time.

Now you can estimate incoming revenues for that time period.  (Not sure how to figure out revenues?  Check out my article on how to estimate revenue targets.)    Then subtract your anticipated expenses, if this is a negative number this is how much you will need to save up to cover your costs.  If this number is positive, you can increase your emergency fund but should be fine as long as your numbers are close!

Not sure how to figure out revenues?  Check out my article on how to estimate revenue targets.

Now that you have the number you need to save it is time to come up with a savings plan!

Ideas on How to Save the Extra Money:

  • Cut out non necessities now and put the extra in a savings account.
  • Pick up some extra clients or jobs now to increase revenues.
  • Create some passive income streams – always been thinking about creating a course or writing an ebook – now is the time to try and get one launched.  (Although this does take some work, it will benefit you now and in the future!)
  • Can your spouse pick up extra work to help add to the personal account?

Preparing Your Business to Keep Running

This is where it can get tricky.  It is one thing to work hard to save before the baby, but a completely different issue to actually maintain the business when you are trying to not work.

Thus the first thing you really need to process is that you will not be taking time off.

Go back and read this as it is a very important idea for you to get used to!

While you may be working less, you cannot just abandon your business.  Even if you have a great assistant who is managing emails, calls, the clients, and the employees there will be something that only the owner can make a decide on.  This is especially true the smaller your business.

While my husband took calls for me, he still had to ask me questions on what to do.  I did not have to manage the tasks, but I had to use my brain for some things!

Once you have accepted that you can begin to prepare for as little work as possible.   Below are some thing to think about:

  • If you are a solopreneur and have regular clients who is going to handle the work?  Can you work ahead?  Can you clear your schedule?  When I had my son I was running an event  and wedding planning business.  I scheduled it so that my last event was two months before my due date, and my first event was two months after.  This made it so that there were no live events, just events being planned.  Then I worked those first few events for when I came back to be ahead of schedule on the planning.  Thus everything that I was dealing with was not emergency items but things I could do when I had time.  If you have regular clients and cannot work ahead then you may see if another practitioner or a subcontractor can cover those clients.  Get creative about how to handle your on going work load!
  • If you have a brick and mortar business then you will need to determine who will be the acting manager.  Depending on the business you may also need to hire additional staff to cover the hours you are normally working.  Remember if you are hiring extra help to add them to the budget for the business and take that into consideration when looking at your profit margin and how much you can take home.    You will also need to ensure that there are written procedures in place for what needs to happen.  (The side benefit of going on maternity leave is your business gets very organized!)
  • Are there items that only you can do?  Start making a list of everything that you do, and if someone else knows how to do them.  If there are any items that only you can do it might be time to decide if it is time to delegate!  Never trusted your employees to make the deposit?  Time to train one of them!  Never outsourced payroll?  Might be a good time to try it!

Finally I would encourage you to create a plan for the actual time that you go into delivery.  Have someone on call to come in an take your spot at work, who will handle emergencies during that time.  Create a plan for all possible scenarios for you and your husband being out of reach.

With a plan in place you can enjoy your new addition without any extra unnecessary stress.

While I tried to cover everything, it is not always possible in an article.  I did create two checklists that you can download that will help you get a bit more detailed.  The two are based on if you have a storefront that will need to continue running!

Click on the links below to get your checklist.  (You can also right click and save it!)

Physical Location checklist

No Location Checklist

1 comment
Sara says March 12, 2015

I did a great job preparing for my first. I worked and saved a lot throughout my pregnancy so I could take some time off and the ease back in. My son ended up with major medical issues. I managed one small project a couple of months after he was born, but essentially took seven months off—and I had saved enough to cover that. It was harder to save after that because I was working reduced hours caring for the baby at home.

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