I recently watched a TED Talk entitled “Can we all have it all?” by Anne-Marie Slaughter, then read her original article in The Atlantic in which she discusses eloquently why it is still hard for women to achieve work-life balance.
Most women are challenged at some point in their careers by nature’s powerful call back home, to look after children or parents. In her case she was leaving her job as the first woman Director of Planning at the US State Department to be with her children, when she asked herself “Who needs me most?”.
Her individual circumstances may be unusual, but her story is familiar to many women.
I greatly admire her for this decision, but it was one for which she received an enormous amount of criticism, mainly from other women. She now works from home and profits from the precious time spent with her children, while still fighting for the cause of equality and more flexible working conditions for women through her articles and talks. She has no regrets.
I can relate to her dilemma when I think about my own story. For many years I ran my own successful business, a small luxury hotel in the South of France. I loved my work, but everything changed when I had two children. I struggled to cope with the constant wrench between work and kids, so I eventually sold up to join my partner on his horse ranch where we were able to share the workload.
“Job done!”, I thought, but then the real wake-up call came last year when my youngest son was diagnosed with Leukemia.
Time for a serious reality check!
While sitting beside my son’s hospital bed I had to take stock of my situation.
I was a mother of two young boys – one with a serious illness. I was approaching fifty, out of shape, short on cash and living in rural France where my mother tongue is hardly spoken. The region I live in happens to have the highest unemployment rate in the country and the main industry is fruit picking. Oh, and by the way, I can’t leave the house because my 5 year old has just had a bone marrow transplant.
Necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention. Out of pure necessity, and for the sake of my own sanity, I suddenly had to conjure up a new career that was:
· Extremely flexible – in both time, and geography
· Does not require a significant investment of capital upfront
· Generates cash fast, and most importantly…
· Allows me to drop everything to attend to my son’s needs
·… all without adversely impacting my income.
Twenty years ago I would have been up the proverbial creek without a paddle, but today the Internet has opened up all sorts of possibilities for people in my situation and, indeed, anyone who needs the flexibility to work from home whilst staying connected to the outside world. Now even women in India are able to run highly profitable online businesses from their villages – unthinkable just a decade ago.
I could have tried to do something on my own, but reinventing the wheel would have taken up valuable time and resources. After much search engine research I was fortunate enough to connect with an online community of affiliate marketers who provided me with the resources and taught me everything I need to know about setting up an online business. I required no previous experience and did not need to have my own product or idea to start. For my situation – this was perfect.
Setting up my own online business has been a game changer. It is not a ‘rags to riches’, nor an overnight success story. Rather it has been a story of someone facing adverse odds finding a way to build a respectable career and revenue stream, in between numerous medical emergencies, house moves and twice weekly visits to the hospital – all from a home computer. For me this has been a salvation.
I am truly excited about the future and exploring the near limitless possibilities that lie ahead with an online business. I have built a personal skills base and a platform that I can re-purpose for all sorts of other online businesses in the future.