As the saying goes, “there ain’t no hood like motherhood.” And when you integrate that world with the world of entrepreneurship, things can get challenging and rewarding — all wrapped into one.
Recently, I had a meeting with a client who is also a mother and working full-time as an executive at a fast-paced startup. We shared war stories and survival tips for what life is like marrying your career with your love of your own children too.
Truth is, there isn’t a solid plan that works for everyone. The responsibility, authority, and accountability that comes with both entrepreneurship and motherhood is one that shouldn’t be dismissed as “easy.” In fact, if anything, it’s freaking damn amazing to be able to juggle it all.
That being said, this blog post will focus on ways that you can navigate the world of entrepreneurship and motherhood. These tips are what have worked for me — and I understand it’s not going to for everyone — but my hope is that you will find inspiration and empowerment.
It’s 100% Okay to Have Multiple Missteps
You have to get rid of the idea that everything you do has to be perfect before you can make any sort of progress. Perfection is unattainable and the enemy of progress. The importance of being able to make progress will show you what works and what doesn’t.
Instead of being fixated on the fear of failure, focus on what you’re trying to achieve. For example, let’s say you’re trying to run a lead generation campaign within the B2B space. The goal is to get your target persona to download a white paper and from there, capture their contact information so you can nurture them into qualified sales opportunities.
You’ll learn a lot more by executing this campaign than trying to get every single creative asset perfect before launching. Once you start, you’ll also be able to collect clear data points that show you which channels perform best, generate the highest quality leads for the lowest CPL (cost-per-lead), and then fill up the sales pipeline.
Have Realistic Expectations
You know that your business may not reach seven figures in the first year. Entrepreneurial moms should look at where they fit in their market and take a careful look at how they can expect success to look. Understand that starting a new business requires a long “ramp up” to be profitable — this is one thing most entrepreneurs stress to new business owners.
More importantly, make sure you are doing something you are truly passionate about and that you have a deep love for. Doing so will motivate you to jump out of bed every morning to work on your craft and continue scaling it out.
And finally, make sure you lay out a roadmap that outlines the milestones you plan to achieve with specifics on how you will measure success along the way, as well as the time frame in which you plan to achieve these goals.
Create Your Tribe
Beginning your own business means making a lot of connections – networking – and seeking out a market to launch your venture. Whether you’re a small bakery finding new clients or a custom clothing designer, putting your product on the market while raising children keeps you busy.
Many communities have networking mixers through the area Chamber of Commerce, as well as small business-oriented seminars, lunches, or outings. Attending these events can help you reach out to other “mompreneurs”, gaining you not only exposure to your market but valuable business connections as well.
Julie Aigner Clark, the founder of Baby Einstein, emphasizes the importance of building a team with those who have skills that complement yours. Ideally, as a team of entrepreneurial mothers, both business development and child-rearing can coincide.
Maybe you alternate babysitting duties when one or the other has important client meetings, a deadline, or simply needs a few hours of peace and quiet to focus on a project. Sometimes you’ll find someone with a skill set that dovetails into your business needs – a freelance web developer and a graphic designer, for example, can come together to offer a more complete package for new clients.
Reaching out to others not only helps new moms feel like they aren’t alone, but it can also help a new business grow faster – more hands and extra talent means less work.
Be Flexible Yet Mindful
One thing that many moms-turned-entrepreneurs have learned is how to roll with life’s punches. From a business meeting that turns into a phone conference due to a sick child to answering emails at soccer practice, being able to accommodate the unexpected is what can make the difference between your business being a success – and not. Understanding your priorities can help make you a more flexible business owner.
Being mindful is another way that busy moms balance enterprise with motherhood. Many note that when they are playing with their children, they’re thinking about the business. When they’re working on their business from home, their thoughts are consumed with household tasks or worries about their child.
Opting to engage in mindfulness means that you’re living each moment in the present. When you’re with your child, mentally put business aside and engage in quality attentiveness. When you’re working, focus on your work and make each task count.
Whether you’re doing something for work or something for your family, dedicate all of your attention to that task. You’ll find that you are both a better parent and are more successful with your business.
Know Your Limits
Even the most flexible, mindful, scheduled mom/business owner has limitations. Running a business can easily consume every waking hour. Realize where you need to stop and when to take some of the pressure off. Many business owners understand the value of persistence and the fact that hard work will beat talent, but the key point here is to also make time to enjoy the process as well as the journey.
Single mom and franchise business owner AmyKaye O’Brian notes that limiting when you are “at work” and when you’ve devoted time to your family can help avoid feeling overwhelmed. She also advises placing your own limits to avoid burnout, a common problem for those who work from home.
Wrapping It Up
You work hard, both building your business and building your family. When you have spare time, do you find yourself doing small work tasks, or squeezing in housework? The challenges of new motherhood and a new business are rated almost as stressful as the death of a close loved one or divorce!
Taking the time to practice self-care, whether exercising, meditating, or unwinding with a peaceful hobby or good book can do wonders for your mental and emotional state. In fact, deliberately carving time out of your day – even 30 minutes – for alone time and self-care can make a world of difference in avoiding burn-out and preserving your enthusiasm for both your new business and your family life.
Running your own business and being a full-time parent has many challenges, but organization, perspective, and balance can make both of these a success. From making sure that you understand the priorities of your business to dedicating certain times that are “family only,” you too can be both Mom and CEO.