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My Business or My Child?

When it comes to being successful, the answer has to be both.

Being a mom is great. Being an entrepreneur is great. Being both at once? That's great, too, but there are definitely pros and cons. While I wouldn't trade it for anything, I don't think it's for everyone. When I ask mompreneurs about their greatest business challenge, the answer I get, consistently, is balancing work and motherhood.

It's tough to put your heart and soul into your business only to drop it at a moment's notice when your child needs you. But that is exactly what happens and what we do.

You are a mom first and foremost. When the school calls because your child is sick, you're the one who drops a meeting to pick him up. When your baby is up all night, you're the one who has to tackle another workday even though you're sleep-deprived. When there's a school party or play, you're the one who leaves work with your video camera in hand. Yes, I know there are many dads who step up and fill in. But on the whole, I find it is mostly mom who sacrifices career for the family.

Before becoming a mom, I worked 12-hour days without blinking an eye. I worked until the job got done. Now I work until my kids need to be picked up. I work when I can, and I can't always work. It puts us mom entrepreneurs at a disadvantage when you consider that our non-mommy counterparts can work any day, any hour. Because my office is staffed with mommy workers, we are used to losing days of work because of child-care issues.

I receive e-mails almost daily from aspiring mom entrepreneurs. Many have unrealistic visions of their children playing happily by their side while they work or napping regularly while they take calls. They also think their husbands will pick up more parenting responsibilities because the women are working. Reality check, mommies. This rarely happens. You will be working in any spare minute of the day that you can find. You will work before your family wakes up, and you will work after they go to sleep. You may work fewer total hours but, in essence, you are always working. You'll still be doing all of the mommy things you used to, and your best-laid plans will often fall through. I'm not saying this to discourage you. I'm simply trying to create a more realistic vision of your future life as a mom entrepreneur.

Make peace with the fact that you would get more quality work done if you weren't balancing your business with motherhood. Make peace with the fact that you'll sometimes need to ask for help to meet a deadline. Make peace with the fact that you can't be everything to everyone. Most important, make your peace with why you do what you do. For me, my work gives me satisfaction, stimulation and inspiration. Motherhood keeps me grounded and reminds me daily of what is truly important.

Here's my best advice to someone considering becoming a mom entrepreneur:

  1. Be clear about why you want to become a mompreneur, and stay true to that reason.
  2. Be flexible, and have a sense of humor along the way.
  3. Don't let fear of failure stand in your way. Be willing to take risks.
  4. Be a model mom. Run your business and your life in a way that you want your children to learn from.
  5. Be mom first and foremost. You have the rest of your life to take on the business world.

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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