How to balance parenting and running a business

Phyu Thant Sin-Ovey and her son
Phyu Thant Sin-Ovey
Asher Harris
by Asher Harris
14 January 2021

Some entrepreneurs say that starting and running a business is like being a parent. Your business is your baby that you must nurture for it to grow. But how do you do that while also being a parent to children? We spoke to Phyu Thant Sin-Ovey, who founded beauty and lifestyle brand Papillon Earth with the help of a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp, about balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship. 

Why did you decide to start your business?

The COVID-19 outbreak meant that more and more people were ordering online, which presented a great opportunity. I also wanted to spend more time with my family having recently worked for an international hotel chain. 

What’s the hardest thing about being a parent whilst running a business?

I believe that if something is worth doing, you’ll find a way to do it. Being a parent is hard but Papillon Earth is my other child so I have to look after it too.

 But the best thing is when my son reminds me that I am a parent. When I’m stressed out about business problems, he helps me de-stress with his hugs and kisses.

Phyu Thant Sin-Ovey and her son
Phyu Thant Sin-Ovey

How do you balance being a parent and running a business?

I look at it as a pendulum. Once I have taken my son to school, the balance swings towards running Papillon Earth. Once I pick him up from school the balance swings back towards him. 

Why is it important to have a support network as an entrepreneur and a parent?

It's vital. If you are only a parent or a business owner life would be tough enough, but doing both at the same time? That’s the equivalent of two demanding full-time jobs, simultaneously. No one can do everything - you can try but you’ll fail. People need other people to succeed in any walk of life. 

I don’t know where I’d be without the people in my support group. Aliya Pakravan is my website and brand manager, she’s been with me from the very beginning. And the rest of my team too. I couldn’t do what they do as well as they do, and they always give me great advice on business and life. 

Papaillon Earth products
Papillon Earth

What advice do you have for parents thinking about becoming an entrepreneur? 

Don’t neglect your health - Take breaks, eat as healthy as you can, get the right amount of sleep, and exercise regularly. Of course, there will be times where you have to work longer than you’d like, sleep a little less than you’d like, but do everything to minimise them as much as you can. You can’t do your best if you don’t rest. 

Do your own thing - Try not to get too wrapped up in what other people are doing on social media, figure out what works for you and do that. 

Often what some people post on social media isn’t always accurate anyway. It’s perfectly fine if you don’t get an IPO in the first couple of years. A lot of things you hear in the media are extreme examples anyway. 

Learn to let go - Eventually as your business grows you’ll need to let go of some responsibility and hire specialists. There will be things you start off doing out of necessity, but eventually you’ll realise there are some jobs you either can’t do well or no longer have time to do. It can be tough, especially in the beginning, but try to think of it as leaving your child at nursery. It’s hard at the start, but it gets easier over time. 

Try to make it fun - You’ll spend most of your time building your business so try to find little ways to make it fun for yourself. There will be boring times of course but, on the whole, try to enjoy the process. 

Remember your reasons for starting - There will be times when things get really hard and you might question your abilities as an entrepreneur, as well as your motivation for doing it. Always keep the reason you’re doing it at the top of your mind. It will make the hard times just a little bit easier. 

Whether you’re a parent or not, if you’re interested in starting your own business learn more from Virgin StartUp.