20 Ways Entrepreneurship is Like Being a Mom
Like me, do you ever find yourself doubting that you actually have certain skills? I can get excited about ideas and opportunities that match my interests and seem possible, in principle. But when it comes to putting it down on paper – in a CV, proposal or business plan – I freeze.
I remember being approached to develop a manual for new executive directors of youth clubs. In principle I saw all the transferable skills I had and the resources available in my network and it seemed possible. But when I sat down to put together the proposal, I started to doubt. In a conversation with my mother at that time I said, “But I haven’t really got any writing experience.” She proceeded to remind me of several things I had written which helped me find the confidence to submit the proposal and receive the opportunity. I had completely forgotten so many of these experiences my mom mentioned. When our confidence plummets, our memory of who we really are can fail and we lose perspective on our capabilities. When we are in that state, we need help to remember and reclaim ourselves. I highly recommend creating a portfolio to help your memory and confidence in those moments.
During one of the coaching sessions that are part of The Career in Your Suitcase Way, Judit came to a block like I had above. She shares her story here.
I also found myself doubting that I actually have the skills needed, in this case, to start my own business. As part of the Career in Your Suitcase Way, I completed a checklist of entrepreneurial traits and shared in my coaching session that I didn’t have enough of them to start my own business. When Colleen encouraged me to think about these skills in relation to my role as a mom, I couldn’t say a word. Which meant that it was an incredibly good question, one that is really worthwhile thinking about. It immediately put things in a new perspective and I knew that I needed to sit down and put my thoughts on paper. Doing so helped me to explore the limiting belief “I don’t have the traits of a successful entrepreneur.” I realized that I actually have most of them and that becoming a mom is one of the best entrepreneurial training programs on the market. Here is what I wrote:
- It all starts with a dream.
- You want to be successful.
- Patience is essential.
- Preparation, planning and flexibility are needed.
- Networking opens doors to opportunity and essential information.
- Improvisation skills are required.
- It’s 24/7.
- You need to be a damn good negotiator.
- Problem-solving is ongoing – ask for help.
- Learn by experience.
- Make moments to come up for air and appreciate what you are accomplishing.
- Reading an article or discussing theories isn’t enough.
- Choose from the plethora of options and act.
- Follow and trust your gut feelings.
- If you ‘fail’, find a way to keep going.
- Set boundaries and ground rules.
- Be a leader.
- Recognise when to outsource – partnership and collaboration can lighten the load.
- Self discipline will create efficient routines.
- You are in charge – grow up and accept the responsibility.
I think ‘responsible’ was the most frequently used word by my parents, teachers, colleagues and managers when they were asked to describe me. But I only understood what this word actually meant after I became a parent. I remember a moment a few days after we got home from the hospital with my firstborn: we’d just sat down to eat our lunch when my son started crying again. My stomach clenched and I thought: “Oh my God, I had no idea it would be like this. I am responsible to keep this helpless child alive. No matter what happens, I have to be there for him in every single minute of the day.” It was overwhelming – just as overwhelming as the amount of contradictory information available on how to do it right. Whatever the subject was (breastfeeding, co-sleeping, vaccinations etc.), I could easily name at least 20 arguments in favor and against (based on books, articles, blog posts and the opinion of doctors or other parents or basically anyone I passed in the street.) It took me a while to stop analyzing every minor problem with academic thoroughness and trust my gut feelings. I realized that at the end of the day I always did what felt the best to do. My son taught me how to be a mum. I also feel confident now that, learning as I go, my experiences of starting my own company will teach me how to be an entrepreneur.
When you look at the list above, it’s clear that being a mom really is the perfect training ground for learning to start a business (and vice versa!). We didn’t think we were the first to recognise the transferability of skills between these two experiences. Indeed, in an Entrepreneur.com article from May 2013, Marion McCollom Hampton, a senior partner at Banyan Family Business Advisors, notes, “Good mothers and fathers keep families running smoothly, and business owners can learn a few things from the parenting playbook”. Do not doubt the value and transferability of the skills you are learning as a mom!
Being a mom and an entrepreneur makes you ruthlessly aware of your own weaknesses and limitations and requires you to be resourceful and resilient, letting go of control while also accepting the full responsibility. Trust your gut, ask for help and gather the resources you need. Create the unique business only you can bring to the world in your way.