So You Want to be a Mompreneur?
When most people think about the career path of being a mompreneur, they think it’s all glitz, glam, endless flexibility, and “real housewife” worthy experiences; you can have your cake, and eat it too. Your hair and nails are always done, your clients are always happy, you are present for every milestone in life, along with all of this being complimented by a very full bank account. Wow, I cannot tell you how much I wish this perfect picture was true. I’m here to lovingly break it to you, that unless you’ve reached mompreneur “mogul” status–something that few actually come to achieve–this is far from the truth.
Before I jump in, I do want to make something very clear as I break down a handful of the realities that come with this unique job description. I wouldn’t change a single thing about my amazing, crazy, never-ending mompreneur lifestyle. I’ve worked very hard to get to this point and I absolutely love what it offers me on so many levels.
But You Get to Make All the Rules, Right?
I ran into someone this weekend who is being encouraged to start her own company. A new mom of two (both under two years old) who just went back to work after an extended maternity leave. Despite the fact that she was looking for an easy transition back into the workplace, and hopefully having some increased flexibility in her schedule, she was only met with the reality that her employer ended up increasing her workload even more.
One of the first appealing notions that so many people associate with starting your own business is that you get to make all of the rules. Right? Well yes, but let me continue to put this further into context. The reality of the entrepreneurial route is that it is actually far from a dream (at times, the term nightmare might better suffice). It’s one of the hardest things you will ever do if you choose to go this route; the path is paved by the constant sacrifices that must be made along the way. And just to be even more clear, I am talking about the boot-strapping entrepreneurial route. No investors. No trust fund. Just you, your hustle, and maybe a little bit of money left over from your last corporate job. Maybe.
I promise that I am not trying to scare anyone, or discourage you from taking this step, but I am a firm believer that experience is the best teacher, and if I can lend some of my experience for you to learn from, I am more than happy to. Now that you have a slightly clearer context, let’s jump into some of the top myths that did not take long for me to come to terms with.
You Do It All
When you own your own company, particularly when you’re in the early stages which is the first 3-5 years, you are not just the CEO, but also the COO, CFO, CMO, CHRO, and the administrative assistant. There is nothing more humbling than getting a glimpse of the scope of everything you do not know. Although you have final say on all projects and clients, it’s typically more stressful because of the fact that it’s your livelihood, oh and your bank account, on the line. In case you have not connected the dots, you only get paid when you close deals, regardless of how much time you spend working.
“There is nothing more humbling than getting a glimpse of the scope of everything you do not know.”
You are On Call 24/7
When you own your own company, you don’t get to turn it off. For all of my 9-5’ers out there who leave their work on their desk and go home to their family, cherish it. Because in the world of entrepreneurship, it’s the complete opposite. You’re always on, meaning that you may find yourself taking a client call while rocking your child in the other arm, having to mute yourself on a conference call so that no one hears your crying child in the background (yes, I’ve done this), or responding to a new wave of emails at midnight right after thinking you just finished doing that. Calls and texts while you’re in the middle of dinner or bath time are normal, and Saturday and Sunday operate like every other day of the week (weekends are more like week-extensions). Yes, you can set boundaries, but when you’re hustling to get to that “mogul” status, you don’t want to pass up an opportunity.
Specifically from a sports industry standpoint, the “no days off” mantra holds to be even more true. The NFL plays on Thanksgiving (and sometimes Christmas), and the NBA always has Christmas day games. While people sit at home in their pajamas with their loved ones ready to watch holiday games, the connection isn’t always made that not only are the players “working,” but everyone behind the scenes making production happen are on the clock as well. Just like there’s no crying in baseball, there’s no days off for the industry.
You have to be Appearance Conscious (hear me out)
I realize how the interpretation of this point might ruffle some feathers, but I am being honest about what I have come to learn. As a mompreneur, you have to be more conscious of how you present yourself at all times. Look, I totally rock a messy bun and workout gear for a trip to Target, but I generally have on some amount of makeup, and like to make sure my outfit at least matches my shoes (I have a lot of sneakers…). One of the great excitements of life is that you really never know who you are going to run into. With this being said, I’m sure that I am not the only one who has come to realize the pattern that when you do not look put together, you WILL run into everyone and their mother. Circling back to my point that your role in a personal business means you are heading up business development, I strongly urge you to be ready for new opportunities at all times. You never know when you’re going to be working at a Starbucks and the head scout for the Sacramento Kings is going to sit next to you and glance over at something you’re working on that’s sports related (yes, this happened, and yes, my outfit was on point).
You are a Work-Life Blender
Mompreneurship is a lifestyle. And it is one that I promise you will make you an overall better person. Being a mompreneur takes work-life balance to a whole new level. But, I think it also makes you a more well rounded person. When you go to pick up your kids from school, you can talk to the other moms (or dads) about more than just what you’re making for dinner or how many hours you’ve played chauffeur this week (however, I am never going to knock these conversations because this is hard work too – SHOUTOUT to stay at home moms, because it is a freaking FULL time job and I want to hug you all through this post).
Working through the struggles of building a business, while also trying to raise a child, will teach you some of the most valuable lessons. You learn to handle chaos like a boss. You truly understand why patience is a virtue. And time becomes so much more valuable knowing that a client could call at any second and interrupt a moment; this makes you cherish time so much more. You learn how to maximize productivity while you are in the office because you want to at least attempt to have some sort of balance when you go home for the night.
You Decide Your Schedule
Even though you are technically “on call,” you do have flexibility to an extent. When I was building my business I would typically work 14-15 hour days almost 7 days a week for the first two years. I thank God every day that I put in that work back then, so I can be where I am now. When I was in that season, the last thing on my mind was that I was going to have to navigate through all of this with a child. But now that time has passed and sustainability has been developed, I have more flexibility with making my own schedule.
I do believe in setting the example for those who work for me, so I am typically online Monday-Thursday from 8:30am-4:30pm. Not to mention work prep and blog creation in the morning before focusing on client projects, and then 2-3 hours of work at night once I get my daughter to bed.
Because of the hustle that I put in on a regular basis, when I deem it necessary, I do allow myself some flexibility. A great example of this was when we celebrated my daughter’s half birthday at the zoo when I was back in Chicago (yes, I make it a priority to soak up even the smaller milestones in life to alleviate my guilt of working so much). I left the office at 1pm, took a trip to the zoo, and had a celebratory dinner, all before it was time for Thursday night football at the time. Plain and simple, you make it work for what’s best for you and your family. But if you really want to reach that level of “success” that most people only dream about, you’re going to have to work. And I mean work really, really hard.
You Pave the Way for Future Girl Bosses
One of my favorite aspects of the work that I do is that I get to show my daughter what it really means to be a girl boss. Whenever I speak on panels or do interviews, I often get asked who inspired me to pursue my passions and live out my dreams. Nowadays, whenever that question comes up, I actually envision my daughter one day sitting on a similar panel being asked that same question. And all that I can hope, dream, and wish, is that she one day says that her mom inspired her. Skylar is my inspiration.
When you’re working to build something that can change you and your kids’ life, there is just a little added magic to it. I know that my daughter watches my every move. Heck there’s a reason why her eyes light up when my iPhone is within reach. I want her to know that she can do whatever she wants. That path may very well mean going the traditional route of college and then entering into corporate America. No matter what, I will support this, just as long as she knows that there is no such thing as a glass ceiling. Where I come from, there are no glass doors or windows.
“there is no such thing as a glass ceiling.”
Don’t Feel Guilty
For any women out there who feel stuck, or feel like there is something else out there to continue pursuing, I say go for it. But don’t go for it because you want flexibility in your schedule. Do it because you want to build a legacy. Because you want to follow a passion and pursue a dream. That part has to come first before the flexibility and the money, because there are going to be days where you just don’t want to get out of bed or check one more email, let alone do it all while getting your kids ready for school or you’re making dinner.
Finally, one of the most important things that I can offer up to you, which is something that I finally came to grips with and wish someone had told me months ago: DONT FEEL GUILTY. As a mompreneur you are going to miss milestones, but you have to pick your battles. You have to allow yourself not to feel guilty, to know that if this is what you’re meant to do, then in order to be the best mom you can be, you have to go for it. And with this, you have to get a little selfish; yes, I said the “S” word. You’re allowed to be a mom and you’re allowed to be a little selfish. When you’re selfish, you chase dreams and fulfill goals, which in return allows you to become the very best version of yourself. And then that version, which is what your kids deserve, is the one who always shows up. Here’s to all you hard working mommas, from one mompreneur to another.