How do you run a business with two kids at home during a pandemic? This is the hurdle mom-trepreneur Charisse de Leon learned to face head-on as COVID-19 continues into a third year.
“My children have become my coworkers who need snacks every 30 minutes. Let’s hope this is all short-lived,” de Leon jokes. “But it’s been a wonderful blessing to be able to adjust my schedules to match the needs of my family during any given time.”
She is the founder and CEO of Paper Pixel Hearts, a card and stationary company that operates out of her home in Milton, Ontario. It’s been almost a decade in the making, and like many others, it started as a “side gig” she eventually lept into full time. While that came with challenges of self-funding, as well as starting up social media accounts and operations as a one-woman team, it helped her be resilient for anything life throws at her.
Before she founded the company, de Leon was working full time at an office in downtown Toronto in the human resources department. She knew that it wasn’t her passion, but like many who have 9-to-5 jobs, she made it work. Still, the commute alone from her home would take more than three hours both ways, and she longed to find a calling that would allow her to be more creative.
Starting a business with young kids can be challenging and rewarding
In 2013, she gave birth to her daughter, which was her second child. While on maternity leave, she discovered the joys of being close to home with her family. She realized how much time she was wasting sitting in traffic on the highway. She was happier and worried less about work. She also realized how much time she had to explore and expand her company.
“I knew that I didn’t want to spend 3-plus hours on a daily commute to the office anymore. Knowing very little about entrepreneurship but with my husband cheering me on, I sort of just jumped in,” she says.
During that time, she saw a need in the market for greeting cards and accessories that needed a fun and quirky update. It’s where she came up with the messages on her cards like, “It’s hard raising good humans and your f**king killing it” and, “Girl, you totally birthed a tiny human during a pandemic,” to name a few.
But it wasn’t all easy. Despite saving time away from the 9-to-5 world, running a company by herself had its own set of hurdles.
The first hurdle was starting a business with young kids at home. “While I wanted to spend all of my time building up my business, my two young children had other plans,” de Leon recalls. “It was a major challenge. I used to work late into the wee hours of the night planning, answering emails, illustrating, and packing orders.”
But with time comes experience, and now her kids are old enough to be self-sufficient and help each other with online learning at home. The entrepreneur has also built up resilience by seeing it all, and facing trial and errors. She put in work marketing her business in artist markets and speaking with vendors to sell her products. With her loved ones’ support, she’s coming closer to mastering the art of running a business from home.
5 lessons for running a successful business at home with kids
You don’t need to leave the kids behind. Here are 5 tips for running a business with kids at home:
1. Invest in yourself
“A few lessons I hold close to my heart: invest in yourself, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and celebrate every victory,” she says.
2. Surround yourself with the right people
Another huge lesson is to surround yourself with people who push you to be the best version of yourself. “Your circle should want to see you win. They should clap the loudest when you have good news.”
3. Social media is a powerful sales tool
When it comes to putting in effort and time into social media, de Leon recognizes how powerful the tool is. “If we’re being completely honest, it’s what jump started my business and likely what keeps me in business today. I would say that 80 per cent of my stockists find me via Instagram,” she said.
4. Set timers for tasks
Another thing that helped her recently is setting timers for tasks she wants to complete each day. “I read that if you give yourself 30 days to clean your house, it will take you 30 days. But if you give yourself three hours, it will take three hours,” she says. “Timers help me stay focused during demanding seasons.”
5. Do things outside of your business
While she prides herself on getting much done, de Leon knows it’s also important to remember to do things outside the business, and that productivity isn’t the only measure of success. “I’m glad there’s been a significant shift in glorifying being busy. Productivity looks different for me from season to season and that’s okay.”
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