Anita Kirkbride of Twirp Communications and myself, sat down with Suzanne Rent of Our Children’s Magazine, as she interviewed us about being Mompreneurs. Suzanne asked us how we got started, how our parenting styles changed, who we rely on for support, what kind of advice we have for other mom’s looking to start their own businesses…and a great many other things.
Suzanne hosts a weekly show on the community radio station called Cobequid Magazine…found at 97.5 or online at www.communityradio.ca. It was a great deal of fun!
But she really got me thinking…how did I become an Mompreneur?
Well for starters, I guess it’s important to define a Mompreneur!
Quite simply, a Mompreneur is a multi-tasking mother who balances both a home-based business (or in my case a few) as an entrepreneur, while also being completely dedicated to her children.
I’m definitely an Entrepreneur…and I’m definitely a Mom…but I doubt too many Dad’s running their own businesses are calling themselves Dadpreneurs because…well, I hate to generalize but quite often, the responsibilities of scheduling, organizing, knowing where everything is, budgeting, cooking, cleaning, taxiing, juggling…it often tends to fall on the shoulders of the mom. So, running your own business has an immediate and difficult challenge since you’re already CEO of a busy family! Throw in that I’m a single mom and it’s a wee bit tougher. But ironically, it’s those same skills we develop as moms that also make us incredible business women to begin with!
So, how did I become a Mompreneur? And…what tips can I offer for others.
How did I become a Mompreneur:
For me, I became a “Mompreneur” out of simple necessity. I’d worked in the corprorate world and have to admit, I didn’t really love it. I rolled my eyes more than once at management decisions and didn’t like a lot of the office politics. Once out of corporate, I worked in academia and LOVED it. As an IT Prof I felt respected by both students and colleagues and truly enjoyed what I was doing…and while working as a prof, I took on a few freelance consulting jobs that I really quite enjoyed. However, while my career in IT was rewarding and I’d discovered the joys of freelance work, I left it all behind to be a stay-at-home mom. There were several reasons…mostly because my husband at the time worked away from home five days a week and with babes at home, I felt completely overwhelmed. Secondly, the cost of day care was outrageous…but mostly, I really just wanted to be the one raising my children. Looking back, I feel lucky that I had that opportunity.
By the time my divorce rolled around, I had no choice but to go back to the workforce which meant back to school to upgrade. Since I was starting a new chapter in my life, I decided to chase a dream and try out something I’d always wanted to do. Once through school, 44 and newly graduated, I came to the realization that I wasn’t going to make the amount of money I needed to make…starting over in a new career at the bottom…so I was somewhat pushed into a position of starting my own company. That way, I could rely on both my new-found design skills and old business and IT skills…and customize a career that worked for me. Plus, every bit of money I made would be mine…I could invest back in myself and my business. I had full control.
I discovered that I loved working for myself…and I’m actually rather good at it! In my case, I was somewhat “pushed” into it and yet, the entire thing felt strangely natural. I think that anyone becoming an entrepreneur reaches the point where they just have to take a leap of faith and go for it!
Becoming a Mompreneur meant that while I was in charge of making the money, I had to put myself out there to network…to meet the right people…to find contracts…to get paid.
It wasn’t easy, and I discovered a few things along the way.
Develop a Support Network:
For starters, I needed to build a support network. I joined the Centre for Women in Business and through them, I learned a great many tips and tricks about running my own business. One of their big suggestions, was to find a business mentor and I was incredibly lucky to find the perfect one!
Who happened to be my Dad.
Dad was VP of Marketing for a large insurance company for many years…and he was all too happy to throw himself into learning everything and anything he could about my business. He knows my clients…he knows what projects I’m working on…he offers advice…he 100% has my back. The advice and support he has given me over the last few years has been invaluable. And also free!
Dad wills me to succeed.
Starting a new company with a student loan, divorce bills, monthly commitments and children who are active in high level sports…I was driven to not just WANT to be successful…but I absolutely NEEDED to be successful. I began working around the clock…chasing every dollar I could and not turning anything down. I believed I needed to work faster and harder and bigger and braver than I’d ever had to work before. It meant that I was constantly tapped in…every day…long days…without much of a break…but it was the only thing I could do to get back on my feet if I wanted any kind of future for myself and my children.
That hustle…it could only last so long.
Something had to give and quite often it was the housecleaning, cooking and piles of paperwork that continued to pile on my desk and needed filing. From time to time it was my health.
Recently, I hired an accountant and someone to help me with the housework…and I’m looking into options to help with the meal prep!
Bottom line…YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL! If you’re unable to hire someone to help you in the office…you need to hire someone to help with the house!
I’m busy. But the thing is…I’m also there 100% for my kids. Working from home has meant that I’m there for them every single day. I could go on field trips and attend every practice and every game…it just meant that I made up for the time late at night or on the weekends. My children have seen me work hard…and they’re proud of me.
Create a Home Office:
A visit to my office at the end of the day for a chat about school and to organize our evenings…it works. We’ve found a rhythm that makes sense for our family and while I work from home, I’m Mom first and foremost.
As for the office…I highly recommend one! I see folks who work from home with papers spread out on the dining room table and an old school desk pushed into a corner with laundry stacks around them and a kitchen chair to sit on…not me!
The first thing I did was to create a space for my office and I truly feel like the day begins when I step inside of it each morning. Work gets done there. It feels creative there. Everything I need is there and I’m not surrounded by the rest of the household clutter. It’s MY space…and I truly believe it’s made a difference in how I work.
Love What you Do:
And finally…while I recommend you find a support network and have a dedicated space to call your own…you really and truly have to believe in yourself to run your own business. It’s hard to stay positive and motivated when you don’t love what you do but when you find what it is you’re meant to be doing, when you wake up every single day happy about the choices you’ve made and excited for the project that’s before you…it’s pretty spectacular!
I love what I do…and I know I do it well. I chased a dream to be a Writer and Graphic Designer and there is nothing more rewarding than feeling proud of all I’ve accomplished. To look back at where I started and see all that’s before me…it’s really quite exciting.
Being a Mom is the GREATEST JOB in the entire world. Being a Mompreneur…is the icing on the cake!
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Keep your eyes on your children’s backpacks mid February for a copy of Our Children magazine. Check out the article on Mompreneurs! Also, listen to 97.5 on Sunday nights at 7, when Suzanne Rent hosts Cobequid Magazine.