The third part of this three-part article discusses work-life balance and living up to perfectionism.

4. Striving toward work-life balance: Although this is an ongoing challenge for both sexes, women, who are not only executives, but also wives and mothers, often feel even more conflicted than men about meeting the needs of their businesses while trying to raise families.

“Work-life balance continues to be a top challenge faced by working women everywhere,” says Doobin. “It’s usually driven by guilt over one’s focus on business, which is often perceived as taking away from family life.”

Sewell believes that one of the reasons there are fewer women in leadership is because of their family obligations.

“Operations on the contract cleaning side is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week requirement,” she says. “I think it’s difficult for women who have a family to work their way up through operations, because it does require such an incredible time commitment.”

Although family obligations can sometimes hamper women’s career aspirations, Bruland says her commitment to her family was, in fact, what launched her career.

She started Management Services Northwest because she believed it would be a sound investment for her young family, but also because she believed she could operate the small cleaning company out of her home while raising that family. As Bruland’s business grew, however, so did her challenge of balancing work and family.

Like Bruland, Van Vuren has also felt the pull between work and family obligations.

“When my kids were smaller that came into play — the feelings of guilt and not being there 24/7,” she says. “I wasn’t always the one to pick them up from school. So managing that has been a challenge — trying to figure out how to be present for your business and your kids at the same time.”

Bruland suggests that female entrepreneurs should continually evaluate their priorities to ensure their efforts are focused in the right places at the right times.

“For me, it was not perfect then, and it’s not perfect now,” she says. “But I’ve learned over the years that it is OK to say no. And every time you say yes to something you say no to something else.”

On the other hand, Vaden believes that “work-life balance” is something of a misnomer.

“I don’t believe in work-life balance. It doesn’t exist,” she says. “Work-life balance means you have equal time in both things, and there just aren’t enough hours in a day for that.”

Instead, Vaden suggests scheduling what she refers to as “intentional time.”

“My husband and I have a designated work night, and we follow that up with a designated date night,” she says.

For Vaden, that works better than trying to give everyone her divided attention.

5. Living up to perfectionism: Women tend to set impossibly high standards for themselves while also trying to do everything themselves — a surefire road to burnout.

“Women tend to over-prepare and over-analyze,” says Vaden. “We’re over-anxious and overly nervous about projects and presentations. And because we spend so much time trying to make one thing perfect, we don’t notice the 10 things around us that could be huge opportunities. You don’t have to be perfect.”

Similarly, women pride themselves on being multitaskers — a negative character trait, according to Vaden.

“If you’re a multitasker then you’re not giving anything your full attention,” she says. “We try to do everything, because we think it will help us get recognition and attention, but what it actually enables us to do is be average.”

When the pressure is too much, Bruland urges women to delegate and assess their strengths and talents. She learned this as a young mother and business woman trying to do everything herself.

Ironically, Bruland owned and operated a successful cleaning business, but struggled to keep her own house clean.

“I remember having another business woman say to me over coffee, ‘It’s OK to bring someone else in to clean your house once a week. Your time is better served bringing value to your business,’” she says. “As women we think we have to do it all, that we have to be super-women. But you can’t do it all, and you shouldn’t do it all. And it’s perfectly OK not to do it all.”

ISSA Hygieia Network

ISSA announced the creation of a global women’s initiative, the ISSA Hygieia Network, in late 2014. Named after the Greek goddess of cleaning and hygiene, the Hygieia Network was created with the mission of advancing female professionals in all sectors and experience levels across the cleaning industry. The network accomplishes this through ongoing education, networking opportunities, professional development and industry recognition.

Both individuals and corporations participate in the network. ISSA members interested in joining the ISSA Hygieia Network can sign up online at

Kassandra Kania is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is a frequent contributor to Contracting Profits.

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