As a mom and business owner, I am really excited to be an emomnow contributor. Drawing on my background as a human resources executive, business consultant and chronic entrepreneur, this column “People First” will focus largely on the people aspects of running a business. To kick off my column, I thought it best to focus on the most important person in your business – YOU.
Know Who You Are
There are many events in life that we have no idea how we are going to handle until we actually experience them. I believe that two scenarios where we simply cannot anticipate how we are going feel until it happens are becoming a mom and starting your own business. We can have beliefs, ideals, visions and even determinations prior to becoming a parent or business owner; however it is only after it actually occurs that the reality of who we are in these roles sets in.
I never thought that I would want to be a full time, stay at home mom, but I definitely believed I would relish at least an entire year at home with my baby. Yet, when my daughter was born 5 years ago, I was caught completely off guard when an unrelenting restlessness kicked in a couple months into my “time off”. I realized this nagging distraction was coming from a part of me – the grown up, “business mind” -that was desperately unfulfilled. This really hit home when at around 12 weeks old, I left my daughter with a caregiver to spend a solid 4 hours catching up with a girlfriend. After filling her in on the wonderment of my baby and motherhood, we spent the remainder of our time together discussing my friend’s new venture. Coming home after that discussion I felt incredibly alive and refreshed – and, more excited, present and playful with my daughter than I had been in weeks. This was the way I wanted to feel as a mother, and I was surprised by how closely linked it was to my entrepreneurial spirit.
On the flip side, none of us can know how we will handle the uncertainties, challenges, complexities and demands of building and running our own business. To some, it will be motivating, stimulating and ultimately more rewarding than not, while to others the confusion and overwhelming needs of a small business can lead to frustration and distress. As entrepreneurs, as well as mothers, most of will feel ALL of these emotions many times in a single day (or hour), but ultimately one will override the other. In this scenario, there is no “right” or “wrong” outcome. The most important thing is to recognize how, and who, you are as an entrepreneur and know that whatever you find out, there is no failure – only clarity.
The decision to start a business as mother is a huge one. I encourage anyone considering beginning their own business, or in the throws of it, to be sure they know why they are doing it. For me, running my own business is the solution that allows me to achieve the right balance between my professional and parental self; however this is more than a scenario in which I have the time and flexibility to commit to both my work and children, but because I really love what I am doing. My business is my passion – the fact that it is inspired by and geared towards children plays a large part in it being the perfect compliment to parenthood for me. As much as we try to separate “work” and “home”, these are the places we spend the majority of our time – each deeply affects who we are and the lines inevitably cross.
Now that you are there, tune into yourself and think about how you really feel in these two key roles. Does my business make me a better mom and does being a mom make me better in business? It will not always be perfect, but in my experience, this is the balance worth striving for.