By: Kelli Richards
Recently, I've observed a growing trend: Young female entrepreneurs launching ventures, creating social impact that matters, winning awards, and starting families -- all at the same time.
That hasn't always been the case, and it's a powerful shift.
Between 1997 and 2015, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. grew by a whopping 74 percent -- that's 1.5 times the national average. If this statistic is any indication, many female entrepreneurs are not only reaching their goals, but they're also doing so without compromising their values or purpose.
I'm lucky enough to mentor four of these amazing women.
Jane Mitchell is co-founder and CEO of The Reset Foundation, which provides alternative living and education to young, low-income individuals who would otherwise be incarcerated.
Christine Souffrant is the founder and CEO of Vendedy, a networked app focused on connecting travelers to desirable street markets worldwide.
And Tanyella Evans and Rebecca McDonald are the co-founders of Library For All, a digital library filled with locally relevant e-books curated for different regions in the developing world. It was established with a mission of making literacy a reality and knowledge accessible to every person on the planet.
[Read More: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time]
Talk about empowering: Each of these women has also either just had or is planning to have her first child while launching a business in parallel. What's more, they've all been named Forbes 30 Under 30 winners in the past year (out of untold thousands who were considered).
I talked with them about this trend and how women can learn to have it all, and here's what they said:
Use skills from family life to find balance and boost ventures.
Turns out, the skills it takes to be a mother aren't mutually exclusive from those a businesswoman needs. "Women are constantly asked how they balance family planning with scaling a business, as if one can't go hand-in-hand. I've realized that the transition to motherhood makes you 10 times more focused and driven to get to market more effectively," Souffrant says. "Your bandwidth is limited because you want to spend time with family, so you've got to make the hours away count."
The key is learning how to blend both worlds. For Mitchell, that meant realizing that her personal and professional life fed off of each other. "I don't see my life as a series of trade-offs, either this career or that family, but as a single, integrated experience," she says. "I've been amazed over the years to see that if a career opportunity is right for me professionally, it's also right for me personally, and vice versa."
Find a strategy that works best for your season of life.
Balance is essential, but there is also a time and place for everything."There are only 24 hours in a day, and saying 'yes' to one thing inevitably means saying no to something else," Mitchell says. "Certainly, there are seasons of life more focused on family and others more focused on work."
You must develop a strategy that works for you, your partner, your kids, and your business, which can be a difficult task. For McDonald, it comes down to scheduling. "We have two boys, and we are able to make it work because my husband is an incredible stay-at-home dad," she says. "I am home by 6 p.m. most nights to spend time with the boys before bedtime. I stay on top of my work when the kids are in bed."
Encourage and help other women.
Today, only 18 percent of U.S. startups include at least one female founder. Although that number is on the rise, women entrepreneurs must continue to empower each other to increase our collective success.
"Women entrepreneurs are definitely a welcome and growing trend. The research, however, doesn't yet say much about the impact of female CEOs; what it does say is that companies with a pipeline of women on the board and in key leadership positions perform better overall," McDonald says. "What I have experienced myself is that women leaders attract strong female candidates, and this is great for business and for our shared mission."
Helping other female entrepreneurs is crucial to the advancement of women in business, both for your mentees and for you as an adviser. By contributing to outside projects, you can unlock opportunities and connections that might lead to new business ventures in the future.
The idea of "having it all" has traditionally revolved around a question of whether a woman could pursue a career and a family. But with more than 9.1 million woman-owned businesses in the U.S. (which generate an estimated $1.4 trillion in revenue, no less), more and more female entrepreneurs are changing the way women work.
The new female entrepreneur is unstoppable and uncompromising in her quest to reach all of her goals, and it's an inspiring trend to witness.
[Related: How I Manage Entrepreneurialism and Momism]
A highly sought-after consultant, super-connector, trusted adviser, celebrity wrangler, and thought leader, Kelli Richards is the CEO of The All Access Group. She facilitates strategic business opportunities in digital distribution among innovative technology companies, talent and media companies, and brands to foster new revenue streams and deliver compelling consumer experiences. As a trusted adviser, she transforms the quality of people's lives. Kelli is also the author of a bestselling e-book, "The Magic and Moxie of Apple: An Insider's View." Visit her website here.
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