When joining the trades, there’s a lot to learn. Your skillset expands, and interpersonal styles adapt — I will take a gamble and assume the language used at a bank is different than at a job site.
Ashley Smith, owner of Always Forward Roofing, began working at a roofing company, and her experience was no different — a lot to learn and many ways to grow! But it wasn’t just about learning new skills, meeting new people, collecting new clients. Ashley was also balancing the responsibilities of being a working mom of five.
Let’s take a second to recognize the SUPERPOWER level necessary to be a working parent. Kudos to those who have navigated the world of pursuing their passion while keeping their kids close and cared for. They deserve a round of applause! Okay, okay… back to Ashley.
Finding the balance between raising five kids, taking them to sports practice every night, helping with homework (or at least trying!), etc. AND running a business is hard. Over the years, Ashley has learned to juggle responsibilities and maximize her time at work and home.
Navigating entrepreneurship and parenthood is a lot to handle. Both roles require attention, energy, and time. So, where do you start? How does one balance being an entrepreneur and a parent and stay sane while you do it?
Read below to see how Ashley managed it.
Stay optimistic and remind yourself you can do it
The minute Ashley stepped into the roofing industry, she was sold. Ashley had been working at a bank prior, where she felt cooped up and bored. Roofing was exciting and satisfied her “love [for] being outside.” Enough with being stuck behind a desk, punching numbers, and answering phone calls! Ashley was ready to get her hands dirty and climb some roofs!
Ashley thrived. She climbed the ranks at work and gained the experience to start her own roofing business, Always Forward Roofing. As a woman in the roofing industry, grit and confidence are essential — it’s no walk in the park. And owning a roofing business as a woman is a whole different game park.
Starting a business (or embarking on a new career) while parenting is no joke. To set yourself up for success, ensure you’re in the right mindset. Stay optimistic and remind yourself why you ventured out on this journey in the first place!
Ashley said, “If I’m passionate about something and feel strongly about it, I can sell it all day.” As her love for the trades grew, selling high-quality roofs and a positive customer experience was no problem. When she puts her mind to something, she gets it done! And her family understands that.
With the new responsibilities of owning a business, it’s a lot to balance: “Every once in a while, I gotta remind myself, I can handle this shit.”
Be optimistic, and don’t forget how far you’ve come. Remind yourself of all the roadblocks and challenges you’ve overcome and why you got into the industry in the first place. You’re more resilient than you think.
Set good boundaries
Setting clear boundaries will save the day. Establish work hours and family time — intentionally create a healthy routine. When you are with your family, focus on them! Don’t become consumed with work. Be present! The same goes for when you’re on the job. Minimize distractions and stay productive. Communicate the boundaries with your family and business associates!
Learning how to set healthy boundaries is a valuable skill. Ashley learned to set boundaries around her workload as her business grew. Starting a business is a lot of work; you need help! Business owners can often need help to delegate because they enjoy the hands-on work, and sometimes don’t trust their employees or have a tendency to control things. Ashley realized her time was better spent managing the business than doing the work on the roofs.
“Dude, I’m too busy to do the work myself because I’m running a profitable, successful company. But I sure can do the work.” Delegation means greater efficiencies.
Setting boundaries with family, employees, and workloads is not for the faint of heart. But in the long run, it’ll save you from a lot of stress.
Establish a good support system
Being a mother of five, a woman in the trades, and launching a roofing business is a lot for one person to carry! Thankfully, Ashley didn’t go through it alone.
As you can imagine, being married to a supportive spouse made all the difference. Ashley has a support system that knows her well, treats her respectfully, and cheers her on daily. It was an essential ingredient for her initial success.
Having a sound support system applies to anyone! Being supported and understood by individuals you trust changes everything. It sets you up for success — a successful career, marriage, mental health journey, etc. Be careful who you surround yourself with and keep those you trust close.
Use the right tools and software
Creating a healthy work-life balance is also impacted by the software and tools you use. You need to make sure you pick the right ones! Examples would be photo management, thoughtful organization on the job site, and its influence on your emotional availability at home.
Ashley said, “I have five kids, and I’d like to see them in my camera roll, not ninety-seven thousand pictures of hail hits and shingles.” No shocker there! Who wants a phone full of gutter guards, shingle samples, and pre-existing damage pics? Yuck.
Being disorganized with job site documentation is stressful and likely bleeds into your personal life. Using the right software solves that problem!
Ashley uses CompanyCam to help balance work and maintain sanity with all she has going on. Ashley “doesn’t even think about CompanyCam [anymore] because it’s just so seamless in everything [they] do.” Once onboarded and integrated into your process—which takes less than 15 minutes—CompanyCam removes complications, reduces stress, and maximizes clarity across teams. It’s been a game-changer for Ashley and Always Forward Roofing!
For many, finding balance means keeping work and personal life separate — and that goes for photos! However, organizing your job site photos to save money, time, and headaches is one example of workplace issues needing attention.
Where else does your business need some TLC? Consider these questions: How are you managing reviews online? Is your employee retention good? What are your plans for navigating brutal competition?
Do your research and find solutions that boost your work efficiencies to call it a day at 5 PM (or earlier!).
Self-care and celebrating achievements
Once you’ve worked out a work-life balance, established a support system, and started using CompanyCam (!!! or another field app/software), don’t forget to celebrate your growth and wins! Acknowledge your victories, both as a business owner and as a parent/friend. Small achievements deserve recognition, and share them with those around you!
It can be easy to neglect self-care when you’re in a rhythm. But remember, you’re not able to work as hard or love your family as well if you’re running on an empty tank. Set aside time for yourself and do activities that rejuvenate you — for example, exercise, hobbies, quiet time, gaming, etc.
A happier, healthier you benefit all those around you.
Caveat: Seek professional help! If you’re overwhelmed, consider speaking with a coach, therapist, or counselor. Professionals can offer guidance on maintaining your mental health and managing stress/anxiety.
That’s a wrap
So whether you’re entering the trades (or starting a business!) or finding balance in your life, learning to adapt and being flexible will set you apart. As Ashley said, “You have to choose to learn, adapt, and get better.”
Becoming the best contractor/parent/business owner comes with a learning curve — you must be ready for it. Be optimistic, surround yourself with trustworthy people, and use tools that fit your business best.