A photo of a mom entrepreneur serving her young daughter
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Lifestyle

Mom Entrepreneurs 101 – How to Balance Business and Family Boundaries

There are two schools of thought when it comes to being a mom entrepreneur. Some mom entrepreneurs are incredibly proud of juggling family and business. They closely identify with the term “mompreneur”. Other women prefer to focus less, or not at all, on their status as a parent. “Just an entrepreneur, thank you very much.”

But being a parent and being an entrepreneur have many similarities. Can you think of two roles more likely to keep you up at night? Each position comes with a similar set of challenges, from time management to negotiation skills and sales to multitasking.

People who decide to start their own businesses do so for a multitude of reasons. Some may be tired of the corporate world or have been forced out. Others feel unsatisfied with their daily life or have a brilliant idea that they can’t shake. Being your own boss has a certain attraction for many people. Entrepreneurship can give you more freedom.

If you are a parent, you may have additional considerations for entrepreneurship. For example:

  • How will you finance your business and support your family?
  • What impact will running a business have on your family and your quality of life?

Financing your business

When it comes to financing a business, there are many options for mom entrepreneurs. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Friends and family financing
  • Bootstrapping
  • Angel investment
  • Venture capital
  • Bank loans 
  • Crowdfunding

If you are crowdfunding your business, there are many platforms that help connect you with your community and manage your campaign:

  • IFund Women focuses exclusively on supporting the crowdfunding of women-founded companies
  • Women You Should Fund is also focused on women founded companies but adds a promotional aspect to its services.  
  • Kickstarter is one of the largest, and probably best-known crowdfunding platforms. According to several studies women are more likely to be successful than men on the all-or-nothing Kickstarter platform.
  • Fundable is one of the leading business-oriented platforms and focuses on helping entrepreneurs raise capital.

Another option for funding your company comes from Rachel Neill. Neill is the co-founder and CEO of two HR talent acquisition firms, Carex Consulting Group and TalentBandit, and has seven children. She suggests looking at various awards and grants, for example the InnovationHER grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The annual InnovationHER challenge awards are given to businesses with a marketable product or service that positively affects women’s lives. The competition winners can take home tens of thousands of dollars in the form of grants that don’t have to be paid. Applications open each August and close in December.

Bias in funding can impact your results

Several mom entrepreneurs said not being taken seriously was a barrier to their funding efforts and operations.

Kerry Mellin is the founder and co-owner of EazyHold, a silicone grip product that enables people with disabilities to grab everyday items. She said there were roadblocks every step of the way when she and her sister started their business. They struggled to get a patent and convince the patent lawyers of their product’s efficacy. None of the male lawyers saw any value in their product. After being rejected several times, Mellin finally found a female patent lawyer who saw how EazyHold could improve lives.

Kerry and her sister’s travails did not end there. Getting a line of credit was also a challenge. Each time they went to a bank and applied for a business account, they “were highly encouraged to include their husbands’ names on the paperwork.”  Kerry and her sister, determined to get the business account on their own, finally said, “Look, husbands come and go! But sisters are forever!”

Family involvement in your business

While both parents can play vital roles in family life, society often assumes that mothers will pick up the bulk of parenting duties. And, with pay for women lingering in the 70 to 80 percent range of what men earn, it often makes sense financially. If you start a business, especially when your kids are young, you may wish to consider how it affects both your finances and your family life.

One option is to look at the business as an opportunity to spend time with your family instead of something that separates you from your family. As a business owner, you say who you want to work with. “Hiring” family is one way to involve them in your entrepreneurial venture.

Lauren Herpich, the founder of Local Food Adventures, points to how she integrated her young son into her business. He was the star in some promotional photos for a local ice cream shop. Additionally, when she could not find daycare, he was her co-tour guide. While Herpich’s son was there, he absorbed plenty of entrepreneurial lessons.

Family involvement in your business can teach your children essential life lessons. It can also teach them that there is no one perfect moment to explore a new idea or start a business.

Kristi Coppa, founder, and CEO of Wondergrade, an app that helps parents teach their kids how to regulate big emotions, said that if you have an idea for a business, do not wait for life to slow down.

“Just by showing up for your business, your dream and yourself, you are teaching your kids an invaluable lesson about hard work and resilience, lessons they can not learn in any other way.

“Be brave, remember the superstar you still are, even as a mom, and be willing to leap because the world desperately needs women who are willing to do tough things and follow their dreams.”

Know your limits

Even if you hire your entire family, your business’ responsibilities will likely fall primarily on your shoulders. Just remember, no one can work 24 hours a day without it impacting their health and their ability to function.

After an extremely late night at work, Brooke Bryand, the owner of Brooke Bryrand Photography, fell asleep at the wheel. She crashed into a bus. She was trying to spend some quality one-on-one time with her son when it happened. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but she felt incredibly guilty. “I failed at juggling it all … motherhood, entrepreneur, friendships. It seemed my online role models could ‘have it all,’ and I was ashamed that I failed and needed help.”

Bryand realized she needed to implement boundaries. She began asking for help. Brooke started trading childcare with other parents. She found that she could be more productive in the tasks she needed to accomplish by having these defined times free to work on her business.

She also made changes to her business model by taking weekends off for her family. These boundaries enabled her to be more present in business and as a mom. 

Resources for mom entrepreneurs

Be wary but know that great things await. Priscilla Arthus, founder and CEO of THE GMS LIFESTYLE says, “Starting a business is not easy. It’s not hard to end up working twice as much for yourself as you did when working for someone else.  But when it’s done right, it is the most rewarding thing you might ever do for yourself, your family, and your legacy.”

A special thanks to all the mom entrepreneurs who contributed to this article.  

Other useful resources

  • Make Mine a Million gives access to creative women dedicated to helping other women succeed in business.
  • Women Impacting Public Policy is a national, nonpartisan public policy organization that advocates for and on behalf of women and minorities in business in the legislative process. WIPP helps to create economic opportunities and build alliances with other small business organizations.
  • Association of Women’s Business Centers provides women business owners and entrepreneurs with a variety of support and services, including help in securing rounds of venture capital.
  • National Association of Women Business Owners helps women entrepreneurs become effective in economic, social, and political spheres of power.
  • National Association for Female Executives offers access to powerful research on women’s entrepreneurship.
  • SCORE offers free and confidential business advice from mentors, both online and in person.
  • Don’t forget the Lioness Magazine resource guide for female entrepreneurs!