In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we discussed business basics and about the importance of constructing our businesses in a professional manner and how that helps establish us as the experts in prenatal education, birth and postpartum support, and placenta encapsulation.
In this final installment, let’s get into a few more areas that are greatly impacted by whether or not we treat our businesses as businesses.
If you’ve been a birthworker for any amount of time, you’ve probably known a doula who has volunteered her services more than charged for them, or maybe she’s charged a minimal amount, far lower than her actual expenses and what her time and expertise is worth. Because most birth workers are drawn to this work out of genuine compassion for pregnant women and their families, many have made the mistake of not valuing themselves in what they charge, how many clients they take on in a month, and so forth.
When we stretch ourselves too thin, or don’t charge our worth, it affects the industry as a whole – by relegating it to more of a hobby, instead of the vital, professional work that it actually is. It sets the stage for professional burnout. If you are charging $300 per birth and spending 20 hours with a client in labor, paying for your parking, paying for your website, etc., you can see how very quickly you will be in debt.
You are also likely to experience personal burnout. Being on call means missing family events, holidays, special moments. If you are being fairly compensated for your work, it makes it a little easier to miss those events, because you are doing that for your family, for yourself. If you are volunteering all your time to be part of someone else’s family’s special event and missing all of your own, at some point you won’t be able to keep going.
Charge a living wage. You’ve invested time, hard work, and financial resources in trainings and certifications, business related systems, advertising, and all that goes into a business. If you want your business to grow and be able to do charitable work in your community, it has to have a solid foundation first.
Back office systems
Back office systems refers to the structures you have in place to organize and coordinate non-client facing business items. This can include website management, a schedule for social media posts, a digital (or physical) client filing system, receipts for taxes, the way you track mileage, and so on.
As birth workers, we are ready to meet people in transformative moments and help them through. We might not be prepared to tackle these business related items because we simply don’t know where to start. This is something that sets Birth Beautifully’s trainings apart from other organizations: information on how to get your business started is part of your training.
Professional backup doulas
Another place where professionalism matters is in your selection of backup doula. We’ve <talked about this before>, so we’ll summarize: Since this is on-call work, there are situations in which we may find we need to have our backup doula support our client. When choosing a backup doula, remember these important items:
- Choose someone you know and trust.
- Make sure your backup doula is trained.
- Make sure your backup doula is reliable.
- Sign a contract with your backup doula.
As a professional birthworker, at some point you will need to call your backup doula. By remembering that having a reliable backup doula is essential, you can ensure that your clients will be appropriately supported and that your business will retain its integrity and reputation.
What back office systems do you recommend? Do you have tips to share on how to avoid burnout? How has treating your business as a business enabled you to do charitable work in your community? Connect with Birth Beautifully on Facebook and Instagram, we’d love to hear from you!
Christine Herrera helps people become amazing birth professionals.