Wednesday, May 4th, 2016
Alain de Botton once said that “There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”
What does this mean to a mother?
She has already unbalanced her life once by creating new life so intricately connected to her own.
Must she now sacrifice just as much to give birth to an idea, a company?
Perhaps it’s no surprise that fewer than 10 percent of start-up founders are women.
What tiny percentage of those entrepreneurs are mothers as well?
Is a woman even capable of completely giving herself over twice, much less at the same time?
It’s hard to say.
A Working Mom and an Entrepreneur Mom
It’s worth noting that a part-time job hosting buying parties on the occasional weekend or answering phone calls for a few hours every evening is very much working and can be very rewarding for a mother and her family. It is not, however, the same level of employment as a mother who is building her own business or a company while also raising a family in the same twenty-four hours of the day.
The Ability to Juggle
The phrase multi-tasking is misused in many cases. Nobody can effectively do two things at once – they just do two things one at a time in short bursts. Recognizing this, the nature of motherhood is to be constantly distracted and forced to hop from one priority to another. Naps, food, tears, diapers, phone call, email, shipping problems. It’s all the same when it comes down to shifting priorities are juggling commitments. The only question is how many more commitments can you juggle effectively?
No Sleep, No Problem
Building a business is a tireless affair. The business needs almost constant tending, and the entrepreneur doesn’t do much sleeping as she gets things off the ground. For a mother who is already up all night with her young children this may be a great way to use that time in small bursts to answer emails and check on things, or it may make building a business simply too cumbersome until the mother is able to get more sleep – at least enough to think rationally again.
Motherhood seems to be an endless storm of problem-solving. First its diaper blow outs, then later its last-minute school projects. Fortunately the mind is flexibly and a diet of constant problem-solving keeps the brain wired for business solutions on a daily basis as well. Or it may be burned out of decision making before you even sit down at the desk for work after getting the children off to school. Somedays it’s a bit touch and go.
It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a network to raise a business. Mothers who excel at making connections necessary to research preschools and good doctors are just as good at making connections to find good marketing firms and referral networks.
Working under Pressure
When is a working mother not under pressure? It’s not a career choice – it’s a lifestyle! Is it one you can embrace, however?
Making Time for Everything
Those juggling skills come in very handy for entrepreneurial mothers who simply must make time for everything. Often this simply means prioritizing. There are times when the children and family come first and others when your family is able to watch you work your magic in the professional world, inspiring your children to perhaps build a business (and family) of their own someday.
Moving Beyond Ego
One of the pitfalls of entrepreneurship is the human ego. When we must do it all and have all of the credit, it’s hard to make others rally to our cause. Fortunately, most mothers have already checked their ego at the door. It’s hard to look and feel like an egomaniac with spit up on your shoulder and a preschooler ready to tell all of your secrets to her favorite teacher.
Need to negotiate a cease-fire? Find a mother with multiple children. Granted, most of the time your business won’t be dealing with warfare, but finding a compromise everyone can live with requires a bit of finesse, tact and occasionally bullying. Like effective mothering.
Patience and Perseverance
Creating a family and creating a business both require ridiculous amounts of patience and perseverance. Sometimes you must simply slog on through the hard times without any clue as to when you will finally emerge from the darkness into the light. For many this is almost too challenging to do as a mother, having to do it again, sometimes on a daily or weekly basis, in business may prove too much.
Running a business requires a great deal of self-motivation. It is always easier to work for someone else where you are told what to do and you can close up and go home to your family at the end of the day. Building a full business that you run and operate yourself means you are the boss making critical decisions that affect lives both at home and at work. Some women thrive in this environment and seem to have an endless well of motivation to get it all done.
Willingness to Sacrifice
Sometimes you simply must make sacrifices. After all, there are only twenty-four hours in the day. Are you willing to sleep fewer hours than you already do? Can you give up Saturday outings with your family? Both mothers and entrepreneurs are stretched to the breaking point at times. Doing both means something have to give or something is going to break down.
Going alongside that sacrifice is the guilt. There is always guilt when raising children – did you do enough? Are you feeding him the right things? Should you have rocked her just a bit longer or a bit less? Working with young children produced guilt in and of itself. Being heavily invested in the development of a company may mean spending even less time with your children at some points than you’d like. Can you find the balance in other area and at other times to make that guilt manageable?
Ability to Growing the Business
Finally, there is simply the ability to grow your business to consider. What is manageable as a one-woman shop during naps and after early bedtimes is constricted by your schedule, and that schedule will change as your child grows. Do you have the emotional and financial resources for additional childcare? Do you have the time and effort required to take your business to the next level?
It is folly to say that every mother has the ability to develop and run a million dollar company. It’s important to realize that’s it’s also folly to say the same about every father. Some people have deep reservoirs of support and personal strength that allow them to take on the almost overwhelming challenges of creating and successfully developing a small business. Ultimately your personal success will depend on you.