This week, I attended the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs’ Summit in Miami and the most valuable session was on mothers who have started, or are starting, their own businesses. As an aspiring parent, I thought it would be great to listen to their insight. In listening to their experiences, I was moved by their transparency and inspired by the possibilities. Here is what I learned:
You can have your cake and eat it too- The time commitment required when you are the boss can be daunting. One mother told a story of feeling guilty for opportunities missed or healthy meals not eaten. mompreneurs wear many different hats and can sometimes feel divided. But, she said that the moment your child runs up and says, “You’re the best mommy ever” it almost instantly gives you the strength to continue forward. Her advice, “Do your very best and your child will appreciate it. You’re the only mother they have. Kids are resilient and love conquers all.”
You are an example- The example you set for your child will provide great influence. As a mompreneur, you can show him or her that you are not limited to having to work for someone. You can also create the work life balance you desire. Starting you own business removes the possibility of being fired or underpaid, since women are often underpaid for doing the same amount of work as their male peers, and forging out on your own also shows strength.
You don’t have to have it all together- One very successful business owner broke down when she discussed juggling her divorce, 3 children and million-dollar company. She said that people envy her because she looks like a poster for success. She appears to have it all, but the reality is that all the things don’t matter; happiness does. As she said, things are nice but who wants to live in a 12,000 sq. ft. home alone.
Find a mentor- Sometimes when things get rough, you look to the people close to you and they say “Suck it up, you got this girl!” or “It will be ok, you’re a fighter,” but this doesn’t always do the trick. Chances are they mean well and are just trying to motivate you. It also may be the best advice they can give because they are not equipped to help you. This is where a mentor can be valuable. Someone who has been there, done that and knows what you are going through will know what to say. A mentor in your field/industry can empathize but also offer you solutions.
Take a moment for you- You can’t keep the ship floating if you have holes in the bottom and no pail to bail the water. You must take care of you, so you can continue to take care of them. For example, one lady goes on a quarterly staycation, to a local hotel and only her husband has the hotel number in case of emergency. If you can’t get away, on the rough days, excuse yourself have a good cry in the shower and return to being super mom.
Setbacks can turn out to be setups- The key to conquering setbacks is to be Consistent, Persistent and Authentic. One woman told the story of preparing for an inspection to launch her business and finding out 24 hrs before that the facility she was using did not allow meat to be prepared at that location. On the spot, her meatless meals were born and she started doing something no one else in her market was doing. A potential set back that could have stopped her turned out to be a setup for something better.
These mompreneurs provided some great insight and I’m glad I got to learn from their experiences. The overarching theme I found during these sessions, “Don’t let your circumstances dictate who you are or where you’re going. You’re the captain of your ship and can do anything you put your mind to.