Sleepless nights, early mornings, weekdays that blur into weekends and back into weekdays. If this sounds familiar, you're either a small business owner, or maybe a mom.
As a CEO, small business expert, and mother of four, I frequently write about topics associated with entrepreneurship, women in business, and leadership. In interviews and articles, I've stressed how motherhood often nurtures the skills and mindset needed for entrepreneurship. And I've seen mamas rocking startups and small businesses in all sorts of industries.
Yet in all these discussions about why moms make great entrepreneurs, I've missed an important point: every mother is an entrepreneur, whether she owns a business, is a full-time mom, or works for someone else. You may not realize it, but if you're a mom, you are already a powerhouse entrepreneur. Here's why:
You chart your own course
Yes, there are thousands of parenting books on every topic imaginable. Yet you can read as many books and take as many parenting classes as you'd like, but nothing will truly prepare you for life with a tiny newborn. Then, once you feel like you have a hold of the infant stage, everything changes all over again with the toddler, tween, and teen years. And what may have worked for an older child won't necessarily work this time around.
In short, moms need to constantly adapt to what's working and what's not, and chart their own course accordingly. It's no different than what I do every day as an entrepreneur.
The buck stops with you
I'm incredibly fortunate to have a husband who shares the burden and enjoys playing a very active role in caring for our children. I also know that in some families, mom is not always the primary caregiver. However, in most cases, who is it that changes the "problem" diapers, knows when it's time to order more diapers and what size, knows each child's food preferences down to the tiniest detail, and keeps track of when the next doctor's appointment/school conference is? It's mom.
This is no different than being a business owner. As an entrepreneur, there's no pushing a decision or task up the chain of command. You can get advice and help from wise people, but ultimately the buck stops with you.
Top-notch negotiation skills
Any entrepreneur understands the importance of good negotiating to the success of his or her business. But if you think it's hard negotiating with a supplier or selling your product to a customer, try convincing a five year-old to eat his vegetables or keep his shirt on at the dinner table. Mothers are some of the most effective negotiators in the world.
Collaboration, crowdsourcing and networking
As a new business owner, you've got to be incredibly resourceful to build your business and break into the market with minimal resources. That means the ability to crowdsource and network are critical.
It's the same thing with mothers. You might ask another mom "Where did you find that stroller?" or "How did you wean your baby from a bottle?" Moms are used to asking friends, family, even strangers for help and advice -- and they also have a natural instinct to share their experiences with other moms. Just take a look at the immense popularity of mommy blogs, along with the discussions taking place on social media mommy groups and offline conversations at the grocery store or playground.
Stop trying to do it all
Both entrepreneurs and moms need to contend with unrealistic expectations and myths of perfection. Entrepreneurs often compare themselves with the latest overnight success story or college student who made it big from his/her dorm room. And moms never quite live up to the expectations set by Martha Stewart, the perfect craft project or cupcakes posted on Pinterest, as well as the legend of the modern woman who "has it all."
I've learned that in order to thrive as either a mother or an entrepreneur, you need to stop trying to live up to someone else's expectations. There will always be more things to do than you have time for, but as long as you focus on the most important priorities, it's okay to let other things slide. Once you embrace your limitations, ask for help when you need it, and focus on what really matters, that's when everything starts falling into place.
Any mom, just like an entrepreneur, has stepped outside her comfort zone, put everything on the line, and embarked on a journey that's so much greater than herself. I'm proud that my children get to see how I operate as an entrepreneur and a CEO. But whether you own your own business or are a full-time mom, you are one of the most resourceful, creative, brilliant forces on the planet. Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers out there!