When family and small business collide

Running a business is hard enough without the added complication of raising a family. But business owners all over the country manage the juggle every single day.

Sydney woman Samantha Dybac had the world at her feet when she fell pregnant with her first child.

The successful communications executive and business owner had nine months to plan how she was going to manage, but admits that no one could tell her just how difficult it would be.

“Suddenly, I was faced with relinquishing the control. I needed to let others into my business to handle things. I had been in blissful ignorance about how difficult that was going to be for me.”

This isn’t surprising given Dybac has been self-employed for many years. With a background in marketing and communications and having owned and run a number of businesses in the past, she establishedstrategic communications agency Sammway three years ago.

Dybac put some systems and processes in place to ensure the process was as smooth as possible, and headed into hospital to have her baby, hoping for the best. The day after giving birth to her baby and while still in hospital, Dybac landed a new client. “The email exchange had been playing out a few days, and landing that client put the pressure on, but you’ve got to take these opportunities in life when they come along.

“The challenge as a business owner is to keep the business running while it’s experiencing strong growth, while also being a first-time mother. So we’ve had to hire more staff to help cover the increased workload. It’s tough.”


Insurance cover for your business

It’s paramount to make sure you’re insured for the unexpected elements of running a business. After all, without adequate insurance cover, a workplace accident, major natural disaster – such as fire or flooding, serious injuries, or an extended court case can have a huge financial and personal toll on a small business owner.

Business or commercial insurance falls into three broad categories:

  • Assets and revenue – items the business owns and their revenue-generating capabilities.
  • Liability – legal obligations arising from injury to others or damage to their property.
  • Personnel – accident or illness involving yourself or your employees.

Make sure you speak to your trusted Steadfast insurance broker today, or click here to learn more.

Dybac is one of a growing number of Australian female business operators, with a 2015 report into Australian Women in Business finding that women make up a third of all business operators (34%). Interestingly, female business operators were more likely to have dependent children than any other employees, with 9% of female business operators having three or more children under 15 years of age.

The report, prepared by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the Office of Women, also found that there has been a 46% increase in the number of female business operators in the past two decades and that female business operators had high levels of life satisfaction (57%).

The key for SME owners starting a family is to plan ahead as much as you can, make sure you’ve got some systems and contingency plans in place before the baby is born, and have some savings in place for those first few months.

While business owners can check their eligibility for the Commonwealth Parental Leave Pay of up to 18 weeks, very few business owners can imagine stepping away from their business for that long, so try to juggle both.

The Parental Leave scheme allows people who are self-employed to do some work, as long as it is about overseeing their business or an occasional administrative task. The other options for business owners is to hire a nanny to help care for the baby in their home, or seek out day care or family day care. Check what’s available in your local area. Also, check out the Fair Work Ombudsman page, which has some support and resources listed here.

The need for strategic thinking

Entering the world of business has also meant that Dybac has had to address issues such as insurance. When setting out, she had to consider workers’ compensation, professional indemnity insurance, public liability and income protection insurance. Now she’s a mother, she’s considering life insurance protection, in the event that something happened to her, to ensure her daughter is financially provided for.

“When you’re in business, you need to find out exactly which insurance policies you need and determine which ones are best for your business and circumstances.” It’s a good idea to make the time to sit down with a Steadfast insurance broker and ask questions to ensure you’re provided with the most effective, affordable cover.

Despite it being a constant juggle, she wouldn’t have it any other way. She hired two communications professionals to help manage the growing portfolio of clients managed by the business, and outsourced the accounts.

Despite the challenges, Dybac has landed new clients, scaled her business up and has plans to bring on additional employees in the coming months. There are also plans to move into a bigger office down the track, and she’s been completing a company director’s course in the hopes she can one day sit on company boards as a non-executive director.

“You learn to ignore the well-meaning advice from others about how to run your life when you’re parenting and running a business. No-one knows what’s best for your family other than you.

It can be difficult from a financial perspective, because you’ve got staff to pay first,” Dybac adds.

Dybac recognises that it can be quite challenging at times. “One thing that works best for me is taking the time to write a list of what I have to do the next day every evening before bed. If I don’t make that list, I’m just not as productive.

If anything, having a baby has made me work a lot faster, and made me a little more determined.”