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Empty Nest, Full Plate

Growing (or grown) children can provide opportunity for renewed focus on your business.

Most of my articles talk about how the mom entrepreneur can juggle her business with young children. Because that describes me, it's an obvious focus. But I realized through talking to some colleagues that the challenges and rewards change as your business and your children grow up.

For many of us, there is a feeling of usefulness when life is so filled with running a business and a family. So it's only natural that many moms feel a sense of loss when their children get older and need less time. Some parents feel sadness and emptiness.

However, that doesn't seem to hold true for the mom entrepreneur. For her, the empty nest may be an empty myth. The mom entrepreneur seems fulfilled with the time she has spent raising her family and excited about her future. She can finally focus time on her business without guilt and feel proud of the years she spent nurturing her family.

Jennifer Hobaica, founder of clothing company Olive U, says that she was able to focus more on her business once her children were in school all day. She had been talking for years about creating a website where people could order her products but didn't even have the time to interview web designers.

It wasn't until both children were school-aged that Hobaica was able to dedicate her time and energy into developing oliveu.com . The site has been up for one year and has allowed her to shift focus to expanding the business in other ways. The website lets Hobaica dedicate herself to her children, Jesse and Riley, when they get home from school.

Susan Mansell was a headhunter on Wall Street who began working at home part-time after her second child was born, so she could spend more time with her kids. She was very active in their school lives, serving as president of the PTA, among many other activities, even writing a book on how to choose the right school. When her oldest graduated from high school, she downsized to a smaller apartment and began working in real estate, as an independent business owner/agent.

Says Mansell: "Now that my youngest is in his freshman year of college, all I do is work. My husband does all of the cooking, shopping, household duties, etc. All of my parenting energy is focused on selling real estate. I have never been so busy, working weekends and evenings. 2007 was my best year to date, where I doubled my income from the previous year."

When her son, Evan, was young, Stephanie Azzarone was the kind of mom who ran school fundraisers, chaperoned school trips and baked cupcakes for school birthday parties. Oh, yes, she also worked full time running her company, which specializes in public relations and marketing communications for products targeted to moms. Now that Evan is off to college, she takes all the hours spent on raising her son and focuses them on growing her business. She recently launched a series of strategic, proprietary services (Web Mom Directory, Team Mom, Blogger Brunch, Insider Mom Network, Mom Fests) to reach moms online and also one on one--generating demand from major clients.

The mom entrepreneur wants to accomplish so much. But these ladies will probably agree that a child's early years are very precious and go by so fast. It's OK to save some of your ideas for after your children go to school or leave home. We have the rest of our lives to work crazy hours and change the world.

If your babies have not yet left the nest, appreciate the time that you have with them. You may find that your business and your ideas evolve as your children get older. For many of us, our ideas were inspired by the needs and ages of our young children. As our children grow up, so, too, may our ideas for business.

Lisa Druxman is Entrepreneur.com's "Mompreneur" columnist and the founder and CEO of fitness franchise Stroller Strides. Druxman is also a nationally recognized speaker and author, and is considered an expert in the field of fitness, particularly pre- and postnatal fitness. She hosts a free monthly webinar during which she answers questions from fellow mompreneurs. If you are interested in participating, contact her at lisa@strollerstrides.com.

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