Today, Becca is on the podcast talking about how, as a small business owner, you can take parental leave when you’re adding a kiddo to your family.
I will talk a lot about how this applies specifically to small businesses like wedding photography where if you aren’t physically at a shoot working, you aren’t getting paid.
Taking parental leave while self employed can be so scary. But you deserve this leave. Your family deserves this time off. You’ve worked so hard on your business that it can be really intimidating to make any plans to not work for a few months.
How will you pay bills?
Will your business fail because you’re taking time off?
Are other people taking time off?
Am I lazy for not doing everything at once?
I get it.
I genuinely couldn’t understand those fears better. As someone who navigates life with anxiety, I promise you I’ve already thought through all the ways we could fail because I took time off work.
But you know what?
It’s not true.
You can take time off: even if you are your business.
(Note to my fellow fur-parents: this can even apply to adding another fur baby to your family! Puppies and kittens can be a lot of work and you may want to plan to take a few weeks off when you add a new pet to your family!)
It’s so possible!
You just need to plan ahead. And with these 4 steps, you’ll keep your business operating smoothly, even if you aren’t working your normal hours.
4 Key Steps to Taking Parental Leave
If your parental leave is going to impact your client, you should let them know prior to making any sort of announcements on social media. That may seem obvious, but I can’t begin to fully express how important it is to make sure you let any clients who will be impacted by your leave know before making a big announcement.
For just a moment, imagine being in their shoes: they’re so excited to have hired you for their wedding. They love supporting you and are always engaging with your social media. One day, a post pops up with your exciting news that you’ll be welcoming a baby to your family. Then they realize you’re expecting the same month as their wedding. They would instantly be thinking “omg do I still have a wedding photographer?”.
You can save yourself and your clients a huge headache just by chatting with them prior to any big announcement.
Before talking with your client, I recommend coming up with a few options for them to consider how they’d like to move forward.
Your options could be something like:
Option A: You’ll have an associate shoot their wedding. This could be a member of your team or even outsourcing to another wedding vendor.
Option B: You’ll help them find a replacement. If you don’t have an associate team or would prefer to not outsource to another vendor, you could help your client find other vendors who have a similar style to you. This is a good middle ground where you unfortunately will be terminating a contract, but it’ll be ending in a supportive way!
Option C: You both agree to terminate the contract and your client wants to find a replacement on their own. If your client wants to go this route, try to not take it too personal. This may be the easiest option for them or they may already know someone who can fill the spot.
I also recommend contacting vendors who you work closely with and will be involved in the weddings you can no longer attend. For us, we have some wedding planners and venues that we would call with our plan prior to contacting our mutual client just so they could have a heads up and provide valuable information.
It’s always been really important to me to truly be “out of office” when I’m on vacation or on leave. What I mean by that is: not working my normal work hours and being present with my family and friends.
The way I’ve found it easiest to make that a possibility while not dropping a million balls, is through automation.
Prior to growing our in-house team in 2021 to include Katherine and Emma, I handled all emails, content planning, client communications, and all wedding prep.
Now, they both help a ton with all of that so my automation plans have changed quite a bit. However, for the purposes of this blog, I’m going to talk about how I handled automation prior to growing our in-house team.
Last week, I shared a blog post on my 3 key automation tools (Flodesk, Zapier, and HoneyBook) which you can read HERE.
I go into detail about how I leveraged those 3 tools in my automation, so here I’ll share a quick list of things to consider automating in your workflow!
What can you automate?
Social media posts (I recommend Planoly, Later, or the newly improved Facebook Planner – I’ve recently switched from Planoly to the new Facebook Planner because its free and just really great!).
Emails: Are there emails you consistently send clients? Like: welcome emails, follow up emails, inspiration emails, etc.
Schedule Facebook Ads in advance
Schedule blog posts in advance
When it comes to automation, so much can be done! Truly, the sky’s the limit. The best first step is to figure out what takes you a ton of time but can also be something you spend time on once and then set to be automated moving forward.
Cash flow is incredibly important and helpful when it comes to determining how long you can take off from work and truly not work.
Cash flow is different from Revenue and Profit. It’s the actual cash amount in your accounts and a live view of how it will fluctuate and move throughout the year based on your expected expenses and sales/bookings.
When working with cash flow, there is one key thing to get comfortable with, and that is the fact that some months will most likely be negative cash flow, especially if you’re taking time off from work. While some months may be negative, you want to ensure that the overall year will remain cash flow positive.
There are ebbs and flows in your business. Like for us, due to weddings after engagement season our cash flow would get a boost. June is usually cash flow neutral or negative because we typically take July off from weddings.
Cash flow is so important to understand what you can do within your business. In our store, we sell an incredible cash flow planning tool. You can either buy the tool by itself or you can choose to bundle the tool with a 1:1 training session with Becca to make sure you get everything set up efficiently and have your questions answered!
The final area that I think is important to consider when taking extended time off from your job is outsourcing.
Outsourcing can be so many things! It could be: hiring a cleaning company for your home, outsourcing editing or culling, hiring a virtual assistant or employee, and so much more!
Honestly, I was afraid to outsource. I felt like Adam and I had to do everything. But, let me let you in on a secret: the very moment we decided to outsource, we haven’t looked back.
Instead, we’ve looked forward and thought about what more we could outsource so we could put our energy into what we excel at: shooting weddings, branding sessions, and creating educational content.
By considering these four areas into your plan, you’ll be able to not just take time off from work when you welcome a little one to your family, but you’ll be able to truly be present during that time
off without being stressed about your business stalling!
You’ve got this! And if you have questions or would like to set up coaching to prepare for time off, you know I’m always here for you!