You’re probably here reading this blog because somewhere along the way, you birthed a baby. (Or two, or three, or four.) And because you care deeply about being both a parent and a professional. You probably haven’t been well-acquainted with your pillow in a while. And you’ve ridden that wild spiral of parenthood – up into the sheer glee of life, and down into the wells of exhaustion and despair.
At some point, you may have said to yourself, “wow, life would be so much better if [NAME INNOVATION OR PROGRAM OR INVENTION HERE].” But your plate was too full to do anything about it. And you don’t know the first thing about starting a business, anyway.
We’re tied to our jobs for so many reasons. If we’re lucky, an important tie is that we actually enjoy what we’re doing! (That’s true of my Medicare reimbursement legal work.) We stay and contribute, because we care about the cause. We like our colleagues. And our job is an important piece of who we are in the world. Other ties include the realities of family budgets, health insurance, and retirement benefits. And still others have to do with stagnation, inertia, and simply not knowing what to do next.
Over the past few years, I’ve had moms tell me they see a particular need out there. Or they have a skill they think is marketable. They’re ready for a change. A new challenge. And they don’t know where to start.
“How do I know if there’s a market for this thing I’m thinking of?” they ask. “How do I possibly have time to start a business while caring for kids and working full time?” Or, “how can a risk-averse introvert like me actually start a business?”
Guess what: I’m not here to tell you to quit your job. No. I’m here to tell you to JUST START something.
Take baby steps. Every day. One day at a time, until you have something bigger to work from. One day, perhaps, you can shift, dance, or leap into something different. But for today, commit to trying something. Commit to sticking with it for a year. And see what happens. You may very well surprise yourself. And at the very least you’ll have learned a ton of new skills.
My passion is empowering working mamas. And my husband, a career and business development coach named Jason Levin, has a passion for getting people unstuck. That makes us quite the pair.
And we’ve decided to team up in a unique offering for a small number of individuals: a program in which you have the chance to work with both of us, one-on-one, in getting your side business off the ground.
Here’s my story: I’m a health care partner at a large, international law firm, mama to two redheads, and a successful business owner. AND I’m a risk-averse introvert. Surprised? When I had baby #1, I struggled with the transition back to work after maternity leave. But with baby #2, I went off the rails. Cried on the kitchen floor with frequency. And really didn’t know how I was going to make this working parent thing work.
I was frustrated by a lack of resources for the transition to working parenthood. There seemed to be a course out there on everything baby-related (how to make a birth plan, massage your baby, you name it), but nothing on how to plan for and navigate your transition into and out of maternity leave. Why? Probably because anyone who had thoughts creating something to solve the problem was as exhausted and stressed out as I was. And by the time they got through that phase, it wasn’t relevant to their own lives anymore.
At a low point in that desperate first year of life with two kids, I took an online course called The Abundant Mama Project, which lifted me up through the power of online connection to other mamas. AND it inspired me that a similar program was needed for new moms heading back to work after baby.
“There really needs to be a course on this,” I told Jason one night. To which he quipped, “and what are you going to do about it?” And so, my commitment to creating Mindful Return was born.
My approach to this business-starting thing isn’t to go cold turkey and quit a day job. Yes, that makes sense for some people. But I’m all about gradual shifts. I started Mindful Return while working full time in a policy job at a health care trade association. About a year into my business, I did a career shift to a reduced hour role back at a law firm, which (somewhat ironically) offered me more flexibility being able to work on my business and also continue to practice law. I joined my firm as a partner on a 60% schedule, where I’ve built a successful legal business from scratch over the past 2 ½ years. The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance just named me as its Flex Success Award winner this year, too.
Living “between” the worlds of my legal job and my business suits me well and keeps me engaged in both. I love using the analytical side of my brain in my legal job and a whole other set of skills in Mindful Return. Anne-Marie Slaughter’s book, Unfinished Business, taught me the term “portfolio approach to career,” and that fits me to a T.
Mindful Return is now truly a reality for me. Close to 600 new moms have taken the Mindful Return online course. More than 30 employers offer the Mindful Return courses to their new parent employees as a parental leave benefit. Chris Guillebaud featured Mindful Return in his popular podcast, Side Hustle School (“Lawyer Creates Online Course for Mothers Returning to Work,” which turned out to be one of his top 10 episodes of 2017). And the Washington Post wrote a piece last year called “Transitioning back to work after a new baby? Now there’s a class just for that.”
As an entrepreneur, I’m still learning. A lot. (And, quite frankly, always hope to be.) But nearly 4 years into this business, I’ve figured out more than a handful of things that I’m eager to share. And I remember what it was like to be where you are.
Here’s Jason’s story: He’s an MBA, dad to the same two aforementioned redheads, and the owner of a successful career and business development coaching business, Ready Set Launch LLC, for the past nearly 7 years. His background is in consulting at Accenture, brand management at Unilever (for post-menopausal women’s face care products, of all things!), and employer branding at Vault.com.
Jason moved from NY down to DC when we got engaged, and he worked as a full-time remote employee for Vault.com. Then, six months after our first son was born, Vault got acquired by another company and laid off its entire remote workforce. New baby + job loss? Gulp.
At the time of this layoff, Jason also had what he referred to as a “cottage” side business in career coaching. His father had been unemployed for two years while Jason was in high school, and Jason dove deep, early on, in learning about why people are hired and fired. And why they choose the career paths they do. He started reading Forbes and The Wall Street Journal as a teenager, and in college, he was always pestering his friends about getting their resumes ready for summer internships.
So when Jason inevitably asked, “what should I do next,” I threw a question back at him. “What would you tell yourself to do, if you were being your own career coach?” I queried. And he replied: “I’d be a career coach!”
Jason’s been a successful solopreneur for nearly 7 years. He coaches everyone from mid-career executives to recent graduates and everyone in between. He helps companies outplace their exiting employees. Advises senior executives on how to transition into retirement. And teaches lawyers at law firms how to do business development.
His advice has been featured in CNN Money, Fortune, MarketWatch, The Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg Radio. Also check out his webinar, How to Start Your Side Business While Working Full Time, here.
Better together? Take a look at our recent joint TV appearance on Fox5 DC News, where Jason and I chat about how to start a side business.
We Will Hold Your Hand Through the Birth of Your Side Business
The gig economy is the future, mama. I get it that starting something new is a big risk. But you know what’s more risky? Having your employer be your only source of income.
By working with the dynamic duo of me and Jason (Mindful Launch? Ready, Set, Return?) you’ll benefit from the marriage of our complementary skill sets. My analytical brain, compassion, focus on mindfulness, and work-life navigation expertise. And Jason’s MBA experience, always-actionable advice, and business-development savvy.
Think of us as your team of entrepreneur doulas, guiding you through the business-birthing process.
How to apply to work with us? Send an e-mail to me at email@example.com answering the 7 questions below, by Sunday, March 18, 2018. (Your only other reminder to answer these questions will come in the “P.S.” section of next week’s Mindful Return Saturday Secrets newsletter, so put this deadline on your calendar and don’t forget.)
Questions to respond to by March 18, in an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org:
- What is your current role, both in your career and in your family?
- On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest), how important is it to you to start a side business, and why?
- Why is it urgent and imperative that you start the process of creating this business now (as opposed to some point in the future)?
- What are you most passionate about in life?
- What are your initial thoughts on the type of business you’d like to create? (Don’t worry, we won’t hold you to any of these.)
- Have you done anything to begin the process of creating a business already? If so, what steps have you taken? (If not, no worries!)
- What would success look like for you, after working with Lori and Jason?
You must answer all 7 questions. Incomplete submissions will not be considered.
If we believe there may be a good fit in working with you, we will schedule a phone interview in the coming weeks.
We would love to support you in the birth of this new part of your life and career. Image the trio we will be. A career coach. A lawyer. Two experienced entrepreneurs. And YOUR commitment, passion, and new, brilliant ideas. Now that would be power, mama.
If you need help with your return to work after maternity leave, rather than help with launching your business, join the next session of Mindful Return.
Want more practical tips on navigating working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave.