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For Mompreneurs, Failure Is Not an Option

When things look impossible, it's time to rev up your drive and creativity.

"Mama, we've got a problem."

That's a play on the famous "Houston, we've got a problem," which refers to the 1970 flight of Apollo 13. About 56 hours into the mission, an oxygen tank blew up, knocking out the command module's electricity, lights and water supply. Astronaut James Lovell told mission control about the problem, adding that oxygen was escaping from the spacecraft. The mission suddenly changed from landing on the moon to getting the astronauts back alive. The crew and mission control got extremely creative about doing what seemed impossible: getting the men home safely. Teamwork, creativity and determination were in full drive. It was their commitment to success, the belief that failure was not an option, that guided the men safely home.

Why am I sharing this bit of history in reference to being a mompreneur? Because when faced with an obstacle, you need the same drive and determination to succeed.

When I started Stroller Strides, failure was not an option. It was my only chance to be home with my baby rather than go back to work at a traditional full-time job. I was determined to do anything I had to do to succeed. I created a business plan, not for any investor, but for myself and my husband. I needed to prove this could work. I had the attitude that no matter what obstacle got in my way (and plenty of them did), I could find a way around it, over it or under it. But I was going to make it to the other side. I knew it would be very painful for me to be away from my baby for 10 hours a day, and I was very aware of the pleasure I got from working from home and bringing him to work with me.

Moms, go into business knowing you will experience challenges. Challenges will sometimes seem impossible to overcome. But where there's a will, there's a way. I love reading about other entrepreneurs who have turned failure into success.

  • Did you know that Mickey Mouse was only created after Walt Disney lost the rights to his pride-and-joy character, Oswald The Lucky Rabbit? Remember, Disney was the one who said, "If you can dream it, you can do it."
  • Did you know that Thomas Edison's light bulb failed some 2,000 times before he got one to work? When asked how many times he was going to fail, he responded, "I haven't failed! I've simply discovered another way not to invent the light bulb."
  • Did you know that Mary Kay Ash was told by her business consultants that her model would never work and that she should shut down before she went bankrupt? Her quote: "Every failure, obstacle or hardship is an opportunity in disguise. Success in many cases is failure turned inside out."

Need inspiration from some current mompreneurs?

  • Royn Pellei of Vive Vita thought she was getting her big break when a big company became interested in one of her baby products. That company soon decided the product was unacceptable. Pellei went back to the drawing board, created an even better product and sealed the deal. She says she will never forget that initial impulse to refuse to fail. Pellei is a proud recipient of the Business Baby Shower award.
  • Joann Wooley, Sign4Baby founder, said her biggest obstacle was balancing motherhood with the poor economy. Restructuring to adjust for business needs didn't match her goals for motherhood. She remained true to her mission to be a mom first and foremost, and her loyal customers followed and filled up new classes.
  • Elke Govertsen couldn't get financing for Mamalode because her husband's business got a loan first. She wasn't going to let a little thing like money hold her back! Rather than produce a prototype for her print magazine, she created a media kit and started selling something that did not yet exist. It worked! Her sales have increased 800 percent in the past two months, from $350 to $2,800 per month for the website alone. Print sales are also growing. Says Govertsen, "Apparently ad sales are still a good vehicle for growth if your readers are the market businesses want."
  • Tobi Kosanke of Crazy K Farm didn't set out to be an entrepreneur. A scientist by trade, she's a prime example of the saying "Necessity is the mother of invention." She loved her career as a geologist, but her employer was not supportive when she needed to take care of her special-needs daughter. She was forced to make a decision between her work or her flex schedule. She created a business on the family farm, which allowed her to stay home and care for her family. With the success of her business, Kosanke is proud to give back to the community and donate a portion of profits to charity.

Just think about the possibilities if you took on each challenge as though it were an opportunity. When you are faced with an obstacle in life or in business, turn that pressure into creativity. The solution is rarely obvious. Just have faith that there is a solution. Or that the failure can lead to something better. To reach the highest level of success, take the leap.

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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