We need you, a mother, to be a participant in this economy. And while yes, we need you as a conscious consumer, you’re also needed as a business owner. Having more women like you in business has a huge impact on how we ALL live. Research shows that having mothers, in business helps us drive down the poverty rate. We’re more likely to invest more locally and focus on innovation. Plus, mothers tend to thrive off actively supporting one another’s businesses. (We love that last part!)
This is why I am so focused on building the mom economy. We need to create a safe space for you to discuss your challenges — for you to explore what works for you when you balance work and family. Finding that balance can be one of the most painful aspects of being a mother with a business. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to ease that pain and make sure that all parts of your life are fulfilling and thriving.
Running a business as a mother is a marathon, not a 50-yard dash. Mom entrepreneurs understand that we have to balance work and family throughout the journey of being a business owner.
Here are my top tips that have helped me keep balanced and keep going on my own journey.
Let Go of the Guilt
How many times have you felt that you needed to prioritize your kids over working on your business or vice versa? Something will always feel neglected, and we can be plagued by guilt.
Are there days when I prioritize my work over spending time with my kids? Are there days when I push today’s to-do list to tomorrow so I have more time with my family? Let me confess here: I struggle with this every single day. I constantly feel as though I need to pick between being a good mother or advancing my business. The reality is that the current way of working hasn’t been written by mothers, and it’s not working for us. Find a way to let go of the guilt work/life balance guilt— or else we won’t be able to do either job very well.
Taking time to nurture relationships with other adults may seem to be a luxury at times, but it’s one of the top things that keep me going. When you work hard to keep those relationships close, you’ll know that when you’re in a bind, you have a handful of go-tos who have your back.
Make Meaningful Connections
The same is true for connections for your business. It’s about finding individuals who you can learn from, who you can pour into, who can be your fans, and who can provide honest, constructive feedback. We say this a lot at Pepperlane, and it’s so true: It’s not about doing more, but doing the right things. If we’re intentional about the type of people we engage with, each individual is going to go a lot further for (and with) us.
Be a Giver
As mothers, we are natural givers. I’ve heard some that say this can be a weakness when we approach business, but guess what? It’s a critical trait as we grow the mom economy.
We’ve seen it in our members — the more they give advice, support, or suggestions, the more likely they are to have a vibrant, engaging business. There’s so much that happens behind the scenes when a mother does business. When you help her out, she’s going to immediately be thinking about how she can either pay that forward or send value your way.
Take a look at ways you can give. When you lead with generosity, you not only find more meaning in what you’re doing, but you’ll also see resources come back to you in ways you wouldn’t have expected.
Take Time for Self-Care
No matter what you do to balance work and family, if you’re starting on empty, you won’t be as successful as you could be. Stay connected to your passion and your reason for starting this business. What is it that lights you up? On hard days, it helps to think of the perks of working for yourself.
Plan time to rejuvenate and clear space in your mind, body, and soul. You may feel like you don’t have time, but there are few things as important as self-care to the success of your business. It could be as small as a walk in the park between appointments, or as big as going to a conference (gasp!) without the kids.
Own Being a Mom
It’s OK to shut down your business between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to pick up your kids from school. Just be open about it. Your customers will understand if you set boundaries as long as you maintain a high level of service. Just like you want to create the best possible life for your family, you also tend to go above and beyond for your clients. You’re always thinking of creative innovative solutions, and you’ve honed an ability to execute a fine level of detail. You bring an incredible amount of value to the table because of the totality of who you are. That includes being a mother.
Trust Your Instincts
Running your own business can be daunting, and the variables can be mind-boggling. There’s no one answer, whether you’re pondering a price point, service packaging, or even where to find customers.
But when you think about it, that’s the world you’ve been operating in since you became a mother. You’re used to getting five different answers on how you’re supposed to do something like, say, feed your kids (often unsolicited, am I right?). You came up with your own system to weigh information and make a call on something — often in a crunch.
Mom founders are ready to implement change rather than drag out decisions due to pride or lack of direction. This makes us faster in recognizing when it's time to make necessary adjustments and shifts in our businesses.
This is our time to write the rules of the Mom Economy. You hold so much value and talent, and sharing it makes the world a better place. Let’s create a system that can help us support our families financially while also balancing their needs. The only way to change the expectations society places on us is to create new rules for ourselves.
Want to join us? We would love your help in building this movement. 👇
Sharon is a mother of two daughters. She built 4 startups that were acquired by Oracle, Microsoft, Infor and Barnes & Noble. She co-founded WIN, the Women Innovating Now Lab at Babson College to help female entrepreneurs start their businesses. Over the course of her career, Sharon has mentored over 300 female CEOs and business owners. One fact about Sharon that you won't guess: she loves to skateboard when no one is watching.