Let’s make this clear, right off the bat: being a mother is a full-time job. Being an entrepreneur is a full-time job. Being a Mompreneur is a feat.
There’s a pretty good chance you’ve never heard of a “Mompreneur” before. We’re a somewhat rare breed, but that’s just part of what makes us so special. The dictionary definition goes something like this:
1. A mother who is busy raising a business and a family.
Still, being a mompreneur is so much more than that. As a mompreneur, your employees and their families are your family, too. You are responsible for providing for your own children, but also for your work family and their children. Mompreneurs are very aware of our ever-expanding family headcount, and it pushes us to be at the top of our game. Not just for ourselves, but for everyone who’s counting on us.
I’ve been a mother for almost five years, and a successful entrepreneur for over four years. In that time I’ve aged probably 10 but also gained wisdom on what you need to be successful as a mompreneur starting a business.
10 Tips for Aspiring Mompreneurs
1. Acknowledge your strength.
Women possess unbelievable inner strength. When you become a mother, that strength becomes otherworldly. Everything changes. Your why changes. As we become newly cognizant, our entire awareness of the world changes. We are hyper-aware of how we interact with the world, and how it affects our children. Our understanding gives us strength, and that strength is superhuman.
If you don’t think that strength rubs off on a mompreneur’s business, you’re wrong. Of course it does. It’s arguably what gives us our competitive advantage, even as we fight against the disadvantage of sleep deprivation.
Own that inner strength and use it to your advantage, because it is your advantage.
2. Take time for yourself.
As a Mompreneur, it’s not just rare to have “me” time -- it’s a nonexistent concept. At every moment, there will be someone who needs you; whether it’s your children, your employees, your friends… you need to be aware of this and plan for it. No one can function without blocking off some time for themselves. Self-care is important, and your ability to function in both roles depends on it.
Mompreneurs are always running up against the clock, so you have to be strategic with your time. Always be on the lookout for ways your time can work for you. Are you a fitness nut? Find a gym that also has childcare. Running out of time to work on your business ideas because you’re too busy working with your team? A few times a month, schedule “Cave Days.” Cave Days are when you block off a whole day to do anything you want work-wise, and those days are critical to growing your business. You can spend the day at home or in the office, but let both your team and your family know that you won’t be available all day.
A word of caution: don’t fall into the trap of thinking that making your time work for you means you can multitask. When you try to devote your time to two things at once, you’re really just doing both things poorly. Set aside time for work and time for family. Recognize that to be successful as a mompreneur, you have to carve out time for yourself, too.
3. Know you can’t always avoid guilt.
Guilt is crippling and devastating if you don’t manage it. Whether you are just starting out as a mompreneur or you’ve been at it for years, you have to learn to control your guilt before it starts to control you. Every mompreneur has struggled with guilt at some point. The first step to getting over it is knowing that it’s perfectly normal -- in fact, it’s a part of the job description.
You will feel bad when you’re not with your kids and you will feel bad when you are with your kids. As a mompreneur, your mind is always racing with all the things you need to do for your children, your business, and the business family that needs you. You have to give yourself permission to not be superwoman all day, every day, to all people. You can't do it all at once. No one can. Learn to forgive yourself for being human. Memorize and internalize this: You're entitled to a day off, a funk, a rut - just like everyone else is. Your kids are more resilient than you think.
Easing your mom guilt is easier said than done. To accomplish this, you have to reframe how you look at the job description. It’s all about quality over quantity. Wouldn’t you rather be the best mom you can be for six hours each day than a stressed out, stretched out mom for twelve hours a day? Wouldn’t you rather be a focused, present business owner for six hours a day than an absentee boss trying to juggle conference calls and playdates at the same time? When you accept your limitations and find your ideal work-life balance, the guilt will start to melt away all on its own.
4. Look to strong examples.
Being a mompreneur came naturally to me. Why? Because I was raised by one. I have an incredible relationship with my own mother, and watching her successfully balance children and work has inspired me throughout my entire life.
If you’re not the child of a mompreneur, don’t worry. There are so many incredible examples out there to be inspired by. Each and every mother who finds a way to balance their children and their business is an inspiration. If you’re looking for a place to start, check out the stories of Joy Mangano, Cathy Heller, Abbey Ashely, Kelly Synder, and Nagina Abdullah. Of course, if you’re wondering, you can always check out my own story here.
5. Build a strong support system.
As a mompreneur, you are the go-to person for so many people It’s important to have people in your life who are not only there for you, but who don’t judge you when you can’t stand up to your own ideal boss/mom standards.
I was lucky enough to have a partner who, from day one, loved my ambitions and goals. My partner never once told me that I can't do what I dream of doing, even as we expanded our family. If you’re a single mother, don’t think this means you can’t be a mompreneur. Your family is your support system. Your friends are your support system. Your babysitter (bless them) is your support system. The people who believe in you and enable you? They are your support system.
You are who you surround yourself with. It is so critical for your happiness, success, and overall self-acceptance to surround yourself with people who believe in and inspire you. The kind of people who don’t guilt you for your ambitions and honor your “why” even if it’s not theirs.
6. Choose your team wisely.
No mompreneur can get it done without her team. When you have amazing talent behind you, it enables you to be both the best mom and the best business owner you can be. Your team should understand you, and understand the empire you’re trying to create.
Any entrepreneur can tell you that building your team wisely is critical to your success. You need employees who can take on the tasks that require skills you’re not as strong in, or that take up too much of your valuable and limited time. As a mompreneur your time is twice as limited as that of the average entrepreneur, so you have to be twice as picky about your work family. Your employees are your second family, so they have to support you just as much as your business will support them. Hire the kind of people who will not just reduce your workload, but your stress load.
7. Learn to master work/life balance.
Never center your life around things that are more temporary than permanent. What does that mean? As a mompreneur, your family is the reason for everything you do. It’s your core, your nucleus, your center, your WHY. Everything else in your life revolves around that. Design your work schedule around your family and not the other way around. You’re the boss, so your hours are what you want them to be. I’m in my office every day, but only during the hours my kids are in school.
There will never be enough hours in the day to accomplish everything. Sometimes you will have to stay up late after the kids go to sleep in order to finish your work. But while I’m letting you in on secrets, here’s an important one: working late is more than worth it when it enables you to be present in your child’s life without guilt.
8. Hold yourself accountable.
Being a mompreneur is one the most incredible things in the world. I never fully understood how much it meant until my one-year-old child was in the hospital for breathing issues. At that moment it occurred to me: I had no one to check in with, no time off request to submit, no one I was being held accountable to -- nothing.
As a mompreneur, in your moments of greatest need, you only need to answer to those that matter most. That’s a privilege and a blessing you can never, ever take for granted. The second you do, it becomes inconsequential and you lose sight of why mompreneurship is worth it in the first place.
9. Honor your time and that of others.
As a mompreneur, you have to learn to honor yourself and others. Being a good mom leads to being a good boss. As a mompreneur, I have so much more empathy and compassion for the people I work with, whether it’s my employees or my clients.
Most mompreneurs are highly ambitious and fully committed to the grind. Not everyone is like that. It’s important to remember, you might be able to work through the flu but that doesn't mean you should expect it of others.
Children come into the world in their own time, in their own way. They interact with the world at different speeds, and they each have their own way of doing things. Having them reminds you that we all do. Being a mompreneur taught me to honor people, their process, their style. Because when you honor yourself and others, that’s when you achieve the greatest results.
10. Know when to unplug and be “off the clock.”
The hardest thing about being a mompreneur is that the clock is always running. There is always someone who needs you. You are never off the clock, and the responsibility falls entirely on you.
Don’t be afraid. When I started this journey, I was terrified of disappointing myself and others if I failed. The biggest struggle towards my success was believing in myself. You will fail or succeed on your own terms as both a mom and an entrepreneur. So you have to have the drive, the vision, the aptitude, and the ability. None of those things will matter if you don’t believe them of yourself.
You are always on the clock, but you are also the boss of your life. Know when to unplug the clock. Being an entrepreneur is a full-time job. Being a mother is a full-time job. Being a mompreneur is the most rewarding thing in the world.