Do you have what it takes? Being a mom entrepreneur may seem like a heroic task; however, daily we learn about “mompreneurs” around the world who are growing and running their companies as well as raising their children. You can, too.
Monica Flores a mother and entrepreneur shares what she has learned as a mom entrepreneur.
Keep these seven truths in mind as you embark or continue on your career as an entrepreneur mother:
Truth 1: Manage your time.
Time is your most precious resource. Plan to protect your personal time as much as possible. Mark time in different calendars for items such as date night, child-related needs (one calendar per child), and even other items like meal prep, exercise, sleeping, school functions, bus pickup/dropoff, and music lessons or sports. Once you know how much time activities take, and it is blocked off, then you’ll also know that the time you schedule for focus work will be absolutely focused.
Block off time by using defensive scheduling. Block off the hours you need that tap into your best daily “flow” time. If you’re a morning person, take full 3-hour increments for focus work. If you’re a night owl, protect some evenings to take advantage of your heightened mental state. Keep multiple calendars for different aspects of your work and personal life, so you are able to see at-a-glance what is happening any day or week. Multiple calendars work well to block off focus time, meeting availability, free time, parent and family needs, and routine paperwork, and you’ll also be more assured that you’ve prioritized time to do what needs to be done.
Truth 2: Prepare to fail.
If you’re just starting out, consider how you currently deal with failure, including if it’s something you’re afraid of or try to avoid. Expand your perception of failure so that you incorporate lessons learned, feedback gained, and failures big and small into a continuous virtuous cycle of improvement. Failure is a large part of success. The average entrepreneur cycles through multiple pilot projects in order to hit that unique combination of timing, idea, marketplace, and profit. Some entrepreneurs try dozens of ideas and never hit their target, while other entrepreneurs get it right the first time they try.
Keep trying. Failure is a great teacher, and you’ll see in children how they gain confidence, and wisdom, through experience. Children fall many times when they are learning to stand, walk, and run. Similarly, entrepreneurs gain every time they fail – there is something to learn in every painful, heartbreaking, or even financially disruptive experience.
Truth 3: Determine what constitutes success.
Because most entrepreneurs never take “no” for an answer, and most mothers are deeply committed to the success of their venture because they care so deeply about their children’s future, mother entrepreneurs must understand, identify, and commit to what they believe success to be. For any individual, having a concrete understanding of their SMART set of goals (specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable, and time-bound), gives structure and order to the chaos that often becomes the entrepreneurial or startup life.
Don’t be caught unaware. Smart entrepreneurs give themselves a specific timeframe to achieve targets, and know exactly what they reach for. Avoid mental strain and even physical illness by aligning between what you believe you can do and what you truly commit to doing, including the time frame. When you write out, with as much clarity as possible, what you consider to be a success for your venture (for example, your promise to yourself might be that within 5 years you own a majority stake in a cash-flow positive venture of $___ net profit that takes you personally <20 hours a week to run). Once you know what success looks like to you, keep accountable by sharing with partners, family members, and community members. Then, when you reach, exceed, or fall short of that level, you know and you’ll be able to course-correct or modulate at that point.
Truth 4: Learn to prioritize.
The joke at college was “work, sleep, friends: pick two.” When you’re a mother who also runs an emerging or growing venture, the reality is that, with only 24 hours a day, you are only physically capable of prioritizing a few of the following: work, sleep, friends, parenting, romance, exercise, nutrition, housework, maintenance.
Time is finite, but the needs surrounding the mompreneur are infinite. Thus, your continuing task, on at least a weekly basis, is understanding what must happen within your upcoming timeframe, and also what is a “maybe” or “ok to drop”. Prioritization is key to maintaining stability and sanity.
Truth 5: Your business is like your baby.
You conceive and birth your baby, then spend years raising your child to the age where they are able to take care of their own needs as well as potentially come back to help take care of you. Your business is exactly the same. For the first few years, plan to treat your business exactly like a baby: investing in time, energy, infrastructure, processes, and tools so that the business starts to grow legs and begin standing on its own two feet, and eventually grows to be strong enough to return back your investment and hopefully, much more.
It won’t be difficult forever; however, it is difficult in the beginning. Be patient and know that it might take years, or even decades, for your venture to grow to adulthood, much as it takes your child eighteen years and more to reach the age where they can manage.
Truth 6: Take care of yourself.
“If momma’s happy, everyone’s happy.” Are you happy in your own life? Are you taking care of your own needs such as your own nutrition, exercise, sleep, mental health, and physical wellness? Any individual will only stretch so far before they snap, and any individual, particularly the mother entrepreneur, needs to know their limitations, the warning signs of a potential issue, and how to regroup and take care of personal needs.
Your health is your wealth. Both moms and bosses need to be strong for the people who rely on them, so the mother entrepreneur will need to be particularly aware of their own mental and physical state. The mother entrepreneur will need to take time, as needed, to reach and maintain peak levels of acuity, strength, performance and responsiveness. Any barrier to physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional health must be investigated and removed, whenever possible. This means avoiding both toxic substances (choose organic, remove poisonous chemicals) and also toxic relationships (choose healthy friends and partners, remove poisonous interactions).
Truth 7: Practice patience.
Play the long game in order to win. Many, if not most, of the decisions you make today, have ramifications into the extraordinarily far future. For example, your biggest decisions — such as those regarding your partner, your career, or your child — will impact the entire rest of your life. Other decisions, such as your startup venture or entrepreneurial endeavor, may have a lifespan of 5, 10, 15, or 20 years.
Ask your future self. One of the tools for you to help discern how to make better decisions, is to go into a meditative state, free up your imagination, and travel toward your near-term future to ask your “future self” what types of decisions you need to make today. You can ask about things like career, choices about romantic or business partners, or advice relevant and unique to each child. Part of you knows what decisions are the best to make, and your task as both a mother and an entrepreneur is to follow your intuition to gain as much clarity as possible about the path you yourself, and your company, is meant to take.
You are important.
My belief is that each of us has a unique role to play, and bring our own special and important skills forward to meet the problems and needs of today’s world. Mom entrepreneur bring innovative, valiant, solutions and we find ways to rise to the emerging challenges that humanity faces. Our planet, our society, our world depends on you getting out there and doing what you feel called to do. Use your highest and best talents to solve the world’s most important problems — and have fun, make money, and connect with other mother entrepreneurs at the same time.
This post was written by Monica S. Flores.
I launched my first business in 2004, when I had one child under the age of five, and since then have been co-founder and advisor to a variety of different enterprises, while simultaneously co-parenting three children. Over the years I’ve learned that neither motherhood nor entrepreneurship is for the faint of heart. You can learn more about Monica Flores on her website.
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