I’ve been online for years. So of course I follow a lot of online “gurus” just to learn more about marketing there.

Most of the people I follow are men. And while I’ve learned sooooo much over the years, and I’m grateful for all of their advice, I do notice one thing that consistently happens again and again in their training materials.

When they discuss starting a business or growing a business, they consistently talk about doing whatever it takes to get to where they are going. “Sometimes you’ll have to work 18 hour days,” they’ll say. Or they’ll talk about the times they spend several solid days working on a new product, barely coming up for air to eat and sleep – and the sleep is usually on a couch in their office.

Yes, I agree you’ll occasionally have to put in extra hard work to get something complete, but for most women, that non-stop, think only about the end product approach just isn’t feasible. Our days go more like this:Why You Can’t Start A Business Without Looking At Your Life

  • Up at 5 to check email and work out on the elliptical sitting in the spare bedroom.
  • Empty the dishwasher and clean up kitchen from night before.
  • Make kids lunches.
  • Create grocery list.
  • Check backpacks.
  • Find notes that require research and filling out forms.
  • Get kids up, motivate to get dressed.
  • Make breakfast.
  • Check phone messages and quickly reschedule a meeting you had at 9.
  • Remind husband to pick up kid 1 from baseball practice at 4 and take them to boy scouts meeting.
  • Remind kids of dentist appointments.
  • Write note to get kids out of class early.
  • Email a form over to a client.
  • Take a shower.
  • Have 3 conversations while in the shower as husband and kids come in looking for things.
  • Scrub and soak two shirts that were stained during breakfast.
  • Schedule dinner with family on Saturday night.
  • Pack computer bag for client meeting later today.
  • Clean up mess dog made when you forgot to let her out.

Whew, okay, now its 8am and the day can really begin.

When men go to work, they think work, deal with work, spend as much time as necessary at work, and finally leave work at work. Women are different. If women work 8 hour days, they may be working on a project and thinking about the bake sale they are helping out at tomorrow morning. They may be planning for a meeting while writing down tasks for their child’s birthday party plans for the following weekend.

And that’s just work.

So of course when a man decides to start a business and a woman decides to start a business, they think about the entire approach in a completely different way.

When men decide to start a business, they approach it for the sake of business. If it needs 18 hours a day with nothing but work, they’ll do it, knowing tasks at home will either get done or they just don’t matter. Women start a business as a way of multi-tasking everything they do.

“If I start this business, I can work at home, have more time for the kids, take on more caregiving for my aging mom, and change the world with my new product/service too.”

With those goals in mind, how do you do it all?

Step 1: Never start a new business with multi-tasking as your number one reason If you start a business by thinking:

“If I start this business, I can work at home, have more time for the kids, take on more caregiving for my aging mom, and change the world with my new product/service too.”

your business will never succeed. The only way to start a successful business is to approach business as the sole target – and build your life around it.

With all of those tasks and requirements on your time, you have to dedicate time exclusively for each thing. That doesn’t mean you won’t multi-task. That doesn’t mean things won’t cross over. But you’ll still have primary tasks to do during certain times of the day.

For me, I structure my day around everyone else’s preferences. I’m an early riser – the rest of my family likes to sleep in. So I rise between 5 and 6 and can get 1 to 3 hours of work completed before others start rising, depending on the day of the week and the season. During the school year, I know my core working hours are from 8 to 3 – I don’t schedule personal things during those hours unless absolutely necessary. From there, I structure things on an as needed basis.

That works for me. It’s the pattern I’ve developed over the years. And yes I’ll head out to dinner with a client now and then, or attend a networking function from 6 to 9 pm a few times a year. But those are my choices, and they are definitely not the norm for me.

The key is establishing your business ground rules right away at the beginning and sticking to it. It’s the only way it will work.

Step 2: Acknowledge your roles

As women, we simply think we can get double the amount of work done in half the time. Its what we do.

So the goal becomes a process of looking at what you have to do and fitting it together to create a workable plan for you.

Time with the kids won’t change – unless you put them in more activities, which still requires you to play taxi-mom and bring them here and there. Family time, date nights, house work – all of that can be altered slightly – but its still important to who you are.

When you look at all the roles in your life, are there some you can do away with that don’t matter to you anymore? Maybe you’ve been on the parent board at school for the last two years, and it typically takes 10 hours per month. What if you deleted that to spend more time on your new venture?

So often we get sucked into roles, and then lose track of where our time really goes. Instead of “just doing it”, think about it before you head off to the next meeting. Is it something you truly want to do? If not, maybe its time you turned your “other” role into the role of “big idea creator” and get your new business off the ground.

Step 3:Work together to make things fit

What happens if you don’t do everything? Does the world come to an end?

Usually not (I’m sure there are horror stories out there for just about everything, but chances are life won’t come to an end if you stop doing something).

I’m sure there are other moms at baseball practice that try and squeeze things in between drop off and pick up. Work out a schedule where you carpool and drop off, and another mom picks up and shuttles them home. That can give you a ton of extra time, as you can buzz home, sit down and work for the hour plus the extra time needed to shuttle your child home.

Dedicate one night a week where your husband is in charge of the household. He must pick up from school, drop off and pick up from all activities, handle dinner, get notes signed and school projects completed. If that can’t be done with you at home, head to your nearest coffee shop and spend a few hours alone with your computer. No, you’re not available by phone. And yes, he can do it. It just takes dedication and a little bit of work.

These are just a couple of ways you can stretch out the time you have to think business instead of supermom.

Any of its possible. It depends on how dedicated you are to truly getting your Big Idea off the ground.