Menopause in business: The 7 rules for reshaping your business and the way you run your business around your perimenopause
Who’d have thought that there’d come a time that I would be writing an article about how to deal with the menopause in business?!
I’ve become a woman-of-a-certain, even though when I look in the mirror I get a shock each time because the face doesn’t seem to reflect the mind that’s still living as a 30 year old.
It feels like only yesterday, I was writing about juggling work around pre-schoolers and school gate pickups. But children have a habit of growing up and we have a habit of growing older.
I’m 46 at the time of writing this blog post; my children are 13 and 15 and I have been dealing with the symptoms of perimenopause for the past few years. I don’t talk much about publicly because what I share is usually focused around marketing systems, lead generation, business models and revenue streams. But I’ve realised that I need to write about my menopause in business now because I wished I had read this two years ago. And I hope it helps you if you are going through that change in life if you dealing with menopause in business, too.
Menopause in business and what it’s meant to me
Fluctuating energy flows, extreme fatigue that’s taken me to bed, flushes, body shape change … it’s made me re-think how I run my business because if I’m not mentally and physically in good shape, it directly impacts on the level of service I can deliver to my clients.
And if you run a service based business like mine – coaching, training, therapy, design, consultancy or any other professional service – you have to be on the ball to be able to deliver.
Or at the very least, make sense when you have a conversation with someone!
So this isn’t going to be an article about advice on the pros/cons of soya, supplements or whether HRT is right (there’s plenty of articles already and I’m no hormone expert, that’s for sure).
This article is focused about how to manage your menopause in business and shape and run your business around your menopause, without making yourself ill, beating yourself up with guilt or losing your mind. And because I don’t think enough women (or men!) are talking about the effects of menopause in business I wanted to share my experiences and how I am dealing with this.
If I hadn’t put these rules in place for myself, I really think I would have ended up being one of those women you find walking around the supermarket, still in her PJs, hair unbrushed and looking dazed and confused about what she went in there for in the first place!
It’s OK … Men can read this too!
By the way, if you are a man reading this, change in life can affect you, too.
You may not be building up to that last menstrual cycle (darn … I never thought I would write that phrase in a blog article LOL) so don’t click away. I’d love to know your thoughts on this as your hormones change as you get older, too. Some may call it mid-life crisis, but it’s no joke when your body changes and you feel you have absolutely no control over it.
These have been my rules for re-shaping my business around me becoming a woman-of-a-certain age.
Rule No 1
Work when you are productive, not when you think you have the time
When I first started up my business in 2004, I was full of energy. I had a young family, suffered sleepless nights and ran the home too. So, technically, I really shouldn’t have had the energy to work the hours I worked back then.
But when you are younger (in my mid 30’s back then), you can really cope with anything because your body is still performing the way it needs to.
I would get my kids to school, rush home and work until I picked them up again at 3pm. in the first couple of years, my youngest was home with me 2 days a week so I only had 3 school days a week to work. But I managed to cram in work whilst he was napping on his home days, during CBBC sessions and as soon as they were both bathed and in bed, I’d be back in the office either running a teleseminar, coaching clients or writing until 2 am.
For the past few years, my days have become longer (yeah!) but once both my kids are home, usually from 5pm onwards, and I’ve made supper, supervised homework, had a “heated debate” with a stroppy teen and done the laundry … I’m done for. Literally done for. The only energy I have is to drag myself to the sofa, put my feet up and try to stay awake until 9pm before taking myself to bed.
The thought of working evenings or taking myself out networking can’t even cross my mind.
So rather than beating myself up for not being able to capitalise on the evenings any more, I surrendered and made sure that my days were efficiently scheduled as possible.
Client calls are now only scheduled from 12noon onwards until school pick up time. Mornings are my time because from 8.30am to about 11am I am at my best. When my energy starts to wane, my clients pick me up because after all, it’s so much easier working on other people’s businesses than your own, yes?!
I don’t do London, except for special occasions. The travel knackers me. Plus the jet-setting lifestyle that once appealed to me 10 years ago is now firmly pushed to one side. I am happy being a home-bird and now that I’ve accepted that, my productivity is back on track. I’m not wasting energy with that keeping-up-the-jones feeling.
Once my chicklets have flown the nest, who knows. But for now, I want to be a mother first and foremost. And preferably one that’s not cross all the time because she’s knackered from travelling.
TAKE AWAY: Look at your diary for the next couple of weeks. How are you scheduling your week? What changes do you need to make to your routine to address your productivity levels?
Rule No 2
Create a business that works for you, not a business you feel trapped in
Your business model has to work for you because if it doesn’t, you’re just an employee. And without the employee perks of paid holiday and still getting a paycheck if you end up in bed ill one day.
If you have created a business that was once exciting, exhilarating and fun but is now exhausting and draining, then you have to change it.
I’ve spoken to dozen of women in recent years who have all experienced this. They’ve created a business that involves travelling overseas – once fun but now they are of a “certain age”, it’s taking it’s toll on them. They’ve created a business that involves lots of 1-2-1 time – once energising but now exhausting.
My first 8 years or so, I sold a lot of low priced programmes and digital products and most of my income came from working with clients 1-2-1. My workshops were affordable which meant I was filling a room of at least 20 people every 4 to 6 weeks. I created a membership site, which at £30 a month wasn’t cheap but it was a price level that didn’t need a lot of persuasion and when I have more than 100 members who stayed on average for 8 months, it was a fabulous revenue stream for a couple of day’s work once a month.
My business model back then worked for me because I had the energy levels to see it through. I thrived off the juggling of commitments and dashing from one thing to the next.
But in recent years, I realised my business model had to change.
Now I have completely turned things on their head and have a business model that works for me in my current time of life. I work with far less people but at a higher price point, which means my time is more profitable and I can give a lot more value. I work considerably less hours, I don’t rush around like a headless chicken and yet my productivity has gone up.
Please note: This change didn’t just happen overnight.
It’s been a gradual shift, both in my mindset and practical implementation of new systems and programmes. But the realisation that things needed to change was the catalyst for going out there and making it happen.
TAKE AWAY: Take a morning out – away from your screens, phones and any other distractions – and quietly review how your business model is working for you. Is what you’ve created (or creating) going to work for you and your energy levels? Are you being your very best for your clients in the way that you are working with them? What needs to change over the next year or so? And what’s your first baby step to changing things right now?
Rule No 3
Review your wardrobe
Seriously, your wardrobe is important. I know confidence needs to come from within ourselves for it to be sustainable, but the clothes that you wear, the haircuts, the handbags and shoes … the outer impression of ourselves does directly impact how you feel.
And when your success in business is almost directly in proportion to how confident you feel at the time, your wardrobe matters.
I’m very much a jeans and converse girl. Yes, I’ve been know to put on a dress for my speaking engagements but essentially I feel most me when I’ve got a good pair of jeans on.
Perimenopause has meant that my middle is now not really a middle. My top half has merged through to my bottom half so that my wardrobe of GAP jeans give me not so much a muffin top … more like a full cream tea and couple of Mary Berry cakes look.
Have you ever tried to wear stomach-flattening pants under jeans? Amazing for the first hour, but towards the end of the day you just feel like a cling-filmed wrapped chicken that’s been left out of the fridge for too long.
I began beating myself up about my weight, which only made me eat more chocolate biscuits (classic emotional eater, me!)
But realising that what I could wear 3 years ago, simply wasn’t going to work any more I sought out the advice of Gail Morgan, one of the UK’s top image consultant trainers. One look up and down and she told me, “You’re a classic triangle, turning goblet”.
Rather than running off for a good sulk for being called a goblet, I jumped for joy. I had a new rule for dressing to follow and after Gail introduced me to Marks & Spencer sculpt and lift range of skinny jeans (which are very well priced, too I will have you know), I rushed out and sorted out my wardrobe.
TAKE AWAY: Like your business, is it time to review your business wardrobe? It’s really easy to get stuck in a rut but as your body shape changes, it’s wonderful to realise that going up a dress size is not a failure.
Rule No 4
OK, I know I said this is not an article about dealing with your perimenopause – this was supposed to be about your business. But seriously … exercise is critical at this time of your life.
And when you run your own business, you simply have NO excuse not to make the time to exercise at least 3 times a week.
This goes back to rule number two and making sure you have a business that works for you, rather than you working for it. If you have created a schedule that just doesn’t allow you to take just a few hours out a week to take up an exercise you enjoy, then your business needs to change.
I use to run and go to the gym. But with my weight gain, aching legs and joints and general knackered-ness, this wasn’t going to work. Recently I’ve taken up swimming. And yes, the proper goggles, swim cap kind of swimming. Hey, I didn’t say that style has to affect the way you exercise.
Going from drinking copious amount of chlorinated water (and god knows what other fluids!) and half-drowning with every breath, I swam my first 1 mile the other week. 66 lengths of the pool. Even my 15 year old daughter was impressed and I don’t normally get much more than a raised eyebrow from anything I say to her right now.
So exercise doesn’t have to be the classic gym session. It can salsa dancing, yoga, walking … anything as long as you are moving.
TAKE AWAY: If you aren’t exercising, what can you try out this week? Do you need to go back and read Rule Number Two again? Don’t put this off. You need to be moving (and keyboard exercise doesn’t count.)
Rule Number Five
Creativity never stops; you don’t need to act on every idea
Your body may start to slow down when you hit perimenopause but if you are a creative entrepreneur like me, ideas never stop coming. A few years ago I was getting extremely frustrated that I just didn’t have the inclination or the energy to implement as much I once did.
I would push myself to do more but all that ended up doing was making me more tired, frustrated and well, menopausal! I was cross at myself, but this often came out being cross with my family. And that’s no good.
After going on a journey with the very inspiring Nicola Bird who taught me much about simplicity last year, I’ve been shown that ideas are simply trains of thought that keep on coming, no matter where or what you are are doing.
Realising that I didn’t have to implement everything that came my way because I now trust that there are plenty of other ideas all queuing up behind each one, I can keep focused on the current project, without getting frustrated by my tiredness.
It’s why I see so many business owners flip flop from one new shiny toy to the next. There’s almost an addictive nature of acting on ideas but often never following them through because the next one comes along.
Periscope is a classic example; an amazing piece of fun, creative and innovative tech but if you stay focused on the marketing strategy and business model that you’ve set out to create, you will see better results, quicker.
TAKE AWAY: When you get an idea, become consciously aware of what happens and how you act. Do you get frustrated? Are you bouncing from one thing to the next? Become aware of how your creativity impacts your energy levels and do something different. Sometimes just scribbling the idea onto a post-it note and throwing it into a shoebox can reassure you that you know where to find it again if and when you ever want to act on it. It’s the whirlwind noise in your head that often causes the anx, so get it out and move on.
Rule No 6
F&*% It Days are OK (and actually good for the soul!)
When you get to a “certain age”, you being to realise that you don’t need to take yourself, or anyone else, that seriously all of the time.
Perhaps this comes down to experience and having a decade of working for myself under my belt, too. But it’s incredibly freeing to realise that you can only do want you can do. And if you can laugh at your failures and shake off negative remarks and snidey comments, then running your business is really much easier to run.
Apologies for the language (and for sharing one of the all time annoying songs!) but any time you want to share a moment of F&*% It, then play this video below.
It’s very good for the soul … you just may want to plug in headphones if you are in a public place or have children in ear shot!
Rule No 7
Systemise, Delegate or Delete
To enable me to become more effective and efficient (AKA work less and earn more money), I process everything I do through the rule of systemise, delegate or delete.
I’ve come to realise that over the past few years, I am doing the same stuff over and over again. And when energy levels are so up and down, I just can’t afford to be wasting my time and energy over stuff I really need not be doing.
So becoming consciously aware of how I fill my days, I’m always reviewing and asking myself whether I could systemise, delegate or simply delete something that I find myself doing over and over, out of my day.
This is one rule I’m still working on.
I’ve got systemise working well; I’ve invested in and worked hard to figure out my marketing systems – both lead generation and conversion processes – and nothing delights me more than having appointments being booked into my diary automatically from people who really want to speak to me. (In fact, I now teach other business owners the exact system in Clicks To Clients, which I opened up the doors to this summer). It all makes a lovely change from having to rush around networking like crazy and using push-energy rather than pull-energy to bring in new business.
Delete ain’t too bad; it helps to have more F&*% Days!
But delegate is definitely a work in progress, I have to confess. I’m still a control freak at heart and let the tech side of marketing take up way too much of my time. Trouble is I love it so much, I don’t think I could bear to hand it over to someone else … but hey, I have my vices and I’m certainly not perfect. I’m only human, just like you.
So there you have it.
My 7 rules for perimenopausal women running their own businesses.
And having just read through this again before clicking the publish button, I’ve realised that these 7 rules were something I wished I had applied way before my perimenopause began. So whether you’ve hit menopause or you’ve found yourself to be a “certain age” or simply that you’ve hit a wall and you need to review and re-set your path because your business is just not set up to give you what you want or need right now, I hope what I’ve shared has helped.
I’d love to know what your thoughts are; what rules you may have and any other tips or suggestions you would like to share. Leave a comment below as I love to read them all.
About the author
Karen Skidmore is a midlife leadership & business coach for entrepreneurs scaling their purpose & profit. Business Books Awards finalist 2020 & podcaster, Karen uniquely combines the being-ness and doing-ness of business to help you grow, without burning out.
The first step in discovering the True Profit in your business is to take the True Profit Test.