I think being a mompreneur is a pretty tough job. I struggle daily to find balance between work and motherhood. And yet, I wouldn't trade it for anything, and I believe that each somehow complements the other.
I started my business when I became a mom, so I think there's a connection between business and motherhood. I have found that running a business is not entirely different from running my family. In fact, my family flourishes most when I run it like my business. With my family, just like with my business, we create vision and mission statements, set goals and strategize. We meet monthly and even do team-building activities. So overall, I think my business benefits from me being a mom.
However, sometimes I feel taken less seriously by others because I put motherhood first. Through this column, I meet moms all the time who are afraid that they can't build a business because they are parents. Not true. Just because I choose to put my family first does not mean I shortchange my business. I found a great book by Julie Lenzer Kirk called The ParentPreneur Edge that shows what parenting teaches us about building a successful business. Kirk's book shouts out why being a mom makes me a better businesswoman.
"Like being a parent, owning a business is the toughest job you'll ever love," Kirk says. "What most people don't realize is that the right business is also one of the best ways to take control of your life."
Here are seven tips from Kirk to help get you going:
- Develop a game plan. Just like you planned for the arrival of your baby, you need to plan for the birth of your business.
- Save your money--or get used to not eating out. It takes money to make money, so you'll need to invest money into starting a business. The good news is that if your kids are young, eating out may not be a ready option, thus making it easier to avoid temptation.
- Line up the support squad. Many mompreneurs work while the kids are asleep, but there will be times when you need to focus on work beyond nap time. Hire a high school student to help or, even better, arrange reciprocal play time with another mom so you both get a break.
- Find a business in a field you know about. The chances for a business to be successful increase when you work within an industry you know. If your skills or passions take you to an unfamiliar place, see the next secret.
- Ask for help. A well-kept secret: Most people will help--if you ask them. Find someone, locally or online, who has done what you want to do. Ask him or her to advise you. Learning from someone else's mistakes and successes is priceless.
- Include your kids where possible. Don't hide your business from your children--make it a learning experience for them. There are many ways to include them, from simply labeling and packing boxes to filing and entering data.
- Find your passion. Starting a business isn't easy, but neither is parenting. Find something you love, so when the going gets tough, your passion for it will keep you going.
What I like most about The ParentPreneur Edge is that it reveals that what we are really building both at home and at work is a legacy. As parents, we want to raise children who are happy, responsible citizens. As entrepreneurs, we want to raise a company that contributes to its customers, employees and community.
Never apologize for being a mompreneur. You can have it all.