Belinda Givens wears many hats. During the day, she’s focused on supporting her children and their remote learning. At night, she’s busy running BVG SLP, a teletherapy business that provides digital speech-language resources for children.
A speech-language pathologist (SLP) by training, Givens left her salaried job in fall 2020 to focus on her children’s remote schooling. That’s also when she turned her side hustle into a flourishing, full-time business.
“When I realized that the boys were not going back to school at a full-time, face-to-face capacity in the fall, I knew that they needed me present for them,” Givens says. “My husband and I had that conversation and knew that it was something that we needed to do for the sake of our family. Having the side hustle allowed me, from a financial standpoint, to be able to say, 'This is something that we need to do for the family.'”
It's a story that should sound familiar to many women: The pandemic has pushed thousands of working moms like Givens to become “accidental entrepreneurs” who leave their careers in favor of the flexibility that small business ownership can offer. Hello Alice spoke with Givens to discuss her top advice for other women learning to juggle entrepreneurship and motherhood.
1) Find Your Support System — and be a Support System
For many working moms, running your business while focusing on your children can be challenging. Having a support system around you — family, friends, mentors, or fellow entrepreneurs — is vital to the success of your business and your wellbeing, especially during COVID.
“My family has always been my rock,” says Givens. “My husband, my parents, and my siblings — I have such a strong family connection, and we always support one another, especially during difficult times.”
The support doesn’t have to end there. Givens encourages other SLPs as they transition into teletherapy through helpful YouTube videos, blog content, and answering questions over email. Sharing knowledge and providing advice to other owners and people in your field can be rewarding. After all, the best lessons are taught by our mentors and other founders before us.
“Despite the fact that I was going through challenges of my own, I took to my YouTube channel, I took to my blog, I took to answering hundreds of emails coming in every week just to be a source of support for fellow SLPs who were put into a position that they felt overwhelmed,” she says.
2) Really Take Time for Yourself
“Self-care is extremely important, and you do have to carve time out for yourself as hard as it might be,” she says. “For me, being outside is so relieving. It brings the stress level down, even if it’s just going for walks or it’ll be the boys riding their bikes. We might ride around the cul-de-sac, and while they’re riding their bikes, I’m walking with them.”
If you worry about finding time to destress in your busy schedule, Givens advises moms find something that both you and your family can do to decompress.
“It’s a balance where you try to do things that your kids enjoy, but things when you can also take a breath and enjoy yourself,” says Givens. “One thing that we do regularly is we take field trips, so I’ll tell the boys, ‘OK, we’re going to plan a field trip this week.’ Wednesdays are their early release days, so they get out early, and I recruited my oldest into planning those trips. It’s nothing extravagant. We practice social distancing, and it may just be to a local park.”
3) Don’t Be Caught Up in The Mistakes
“I know a lot of times, so many people hesitate, myself included, when you think you’re going to do something and you’re not going to do it right. I’ve learned that you should look at them in a way that’s not a mistake. You should learn from it,” says Givens.
She adds that repositioning her thinking has helped her learn from any missteps.
“So many people will get to a point where they allow obstacles or things that don’t go their way to prevent them from moving forward. Instead, you should say, ‘OK, why did this happen? What can I do differently? What can I learn from this to prevent that particular thing from happening so that I can move forward and excel in my business?’ We as humans have that tendency to stop ourselves from moving forward by being afraid to take those risks.”
4) Find a Schedule and Stick With It
Juggling duties as a mom and business owner is not easy, but setting a schedule can help.
“Family, for me, has always come first. I focus on them throughout the day because my boys have a traditional bell schedule,” says Givens. “The day really starts with focusing on the children first and foremost, and then my business is something that I generally do after hours. I’m a night owl, and because it’s a passion and it really doesn’t feel like work, I spend a lot of time with the business at times where the boys are asleep.”
5) Don’t Be Afraid to Take Your Business Full Time
Her biggest advice for any mom looking to launch their business is to not be afraid to take risks and devote yourself to your business.
“As hard as that is, every business owner or anybody who tells you that it’s easy is not telling you the truth — it’s hard to step outside of your comfort zone. It’s hard to do something that you don’t necessarily know is going to be a success,” says Givens. “But the sooner you step outside of the comfort zone, the more inclined you are to grow.”
And whenever she hits a wall, Givens reminds herself that her hard work is what will create a future for her family.
“Having your own business and being able to create or build a legacy for your children is phenomenal. It’s such an incredible feeling. And I frequently say that I’m on a mission to create generational wealth for my boys, and I know it starts with me,” she says. “It starts with me being able to show them that you have to take chances, you have to take risks, you have to put yourself out there in order for you to take it to another level.”