“What do you want to do when you grow up?” What a question. A question everyone asks when we are young. But can I even answer that? Call me selfish, but I want it all. I want to be a loving wife. I want to be a caring Mom. I want to use my mind. I want to make a footprint in this world. I want to be a role model. I want to be a friend. I want to be a good daughter. I want to be there for my sister. I want to do music class with my kids. I want to take my kids to the park. I want to share my creative ideas. I want to be there for the colds and the hugs. I want to be both an involved, stay-at-home Mom and a successful career woman. And I shouldn’t have to choose.
Up until welcoming our daughter into this world, I didn’t have to choose. I was able to be both a loving wife and a successful business woman. It filled the hours and days in the week, but it wasn’t a challenge. It was an easy balance. Then a sweet, little, blue eyed baby girl entered our life and the world tried to make me choose. Do you want to get a Nanny and continue thriving in your career OR do you want to quit your job and forget about your accomplishments, education and business experience to stay at home to care for your little one? No matter how much I had accomplished in my career, it wasn’t an option for me in the corporate world. You can’t have both. But I wouldn’t accept that. I was a smart woman. I was organized. I was driven and I knew there had to be a better choice. So one night, as I heard my sweet baby breathing in the monitor, I thought about the difficult decision I was faced with in just weeks. Right then and right there, I took a leap. A leap into a dark, very scary scenario of doing both. Yes, both! Being both a full-time stay at home and also keeping my career. Would there be sacrifices? Yes. Would there be less sleep? Absolutely. Would there be stressful days? Almost every day. But would it be worth it? For me, 100%, because for me, I would get to watch my daughter grow each and every day. I would get to help mold that growth. I would get to sit in music class and gymnastics class without the stress of answering to a boss for being a Mom. I would be my boss. I would be responsible for my workload and I would hold myself accountable.
I started my own Marketing consulting business (Elite Market Savvy) just months after my daughter was born. It took time. It took lack of sleep and it took faith. A lot of faith both from me and from my incredibly supportive husband. I now call myself the Full Time Mom and Business Woman during naptime and bedtime. Two and a half years into being my own boss, I can say that the hard work is starting to pay and it’s an incredible experience. I am able to take my daughter to Mommy & Me music class in the morning, work during naptime and head out to the train park in the afternoon. Mommy downtime is limited, but owning my own business has allowed me to have the life I want. It allows me to achieve my “what I want to be when I grow up.”
Now, I am not writing this post to tell Moms the “right” way to approach Motherhood. There is no right way. There is the right way for you and that varies from Mom to Mom. There are Moms who want to be full-time career women and they rock at balancing both. My sister is one of them and she is my hero. There are Moms who want to stay at home full-time and rock at it. My own Mom was one of them and I owe my success to all the sacrifices she made. There are Moms who take a workforce breather during the early years of Mommyhood and then jump right back in during the school years and rock at it. Each Mom has their own path. I’m writing this post today to tell Moms that whatever you do want, you can have it! Don’t try to make your life fit in the box that society made for Moms. If you want to stay at home with your kids and start your own business, do it! If your kids are in school and you think it’s too late to go after your career dreams, stop right there! It’s never too late. Tory Burch started her company at 38. Arianna Huffington was 55 when she founded The Huffington Post and Vera Wang didn’t entertain the idea of her own bridal line until she was 40! Imagine if these incredible female entrepreneurs hadn’t followed their dreams.
10 Tips For Starting Your Own Business
- Do you want to be your own boss? It’s possible and it’s possible to actually make money doing it! First, write down all your skills, both through your career background and through your hobbies. For example, my career background is Marketing and Community Management but that is very broad. I quickly learned that I would need to narrow down my services or I would make myself crazy trying to pinpoint my services to clients. I decided to focus my services on three things: Social Media Management, Marketing Strategy and Reputation Management.
- Identify the market demands. Now that you have your skills written down, think about the market. Is there something missing out there that you could provide to people with your skillset? Would you enjoy doing it and would it meet your family-life goals? Circle it! You have your business.
- Decide on a name and secure it. Secure a domain name, social media handles and file an LLC under the name.
- Talk to your accountant. Before you even get started, talk to your accountant about your goals so that you how to handle income and finances.
- Make a website. Sounds silly to do so before you start your business, but nobody has to see it yet! It will help you define your business before you get out there and tell people.
- Network with your contacts. I would not have my business today without my incredible network of fellow colleagues who have been my support system, mentors and cheerleaders over the last few years. Reach out to everyone you know and tell them about your new business. Ask former colleagues and those you worked with for testimonials and recommendations. For me, the most successful way I reached my current client base today was through word of mouth. I always carry my business cards with me, along with a portfolio and I am prepared to casually bring up my business with anyone I know…even my hairdresser who helped me get one of my first clients!
- Join Local Groups. Cities are filled with networking groups for just about every industry. The challenge I faced with the groups was lack of time. However, if you do have the time, look for local networking groups in your industry and attend events when you can. This is a great way to meet like-minded people and also connect with potential clients. Sometimes the person you might think to be a competitor is actually a perfect partner. For example, I don’t focus on traditional PR for my clients, but I know several traditional publicists in the area. I often partner with these traditional publicists to work with them on their client needs for Social Media and Digital Marketing.
- Market Yourself Through Social Media. First, be mindful of spamming your current social media network. In fact, I would avoid more than 1-2 posts about your new business on your personal social media. Instead, join the hundreds of Facebook groups out there to help you make the move into your own business. Create special social media handles that you can use to show off your skillset and promote your business.
- Take it slow. Starting a business takes time and don’t expect it to grow overnight. Be patient and take it easy on yourself! You will get there over time and while you might not notice the small steps, one day you’ll realize how far your business has come!
- Don’t sell yourself short. Set your price-point and stick with it from day one. Even if you are new, don’t give away your talent by lowering the amount you charge. Instead, think of creative ways you can increase your reputation without decreasing your value.
Hear what other entrepreneur Moms from SMB have to say:
Beth Grady – owner of The Marketing BAG (a marketing consulting business)
What made you decide to start your own business? “I left my job in corporate marketing to stay at home with my kids because that’s what our family needed at the time, but I wanted to continue to keep up and grow my skillset and we also needed some extra income since we were going to be down a salary. I let my colleagues know that I was open to freelance work if they ever needed help and to please refer me to anyone outside the company that needed marketing services. Word got around and I began to receive calls, I realized this was something that I could grow into a small business with flexible hours that I could do on my time, which was something that I couldn’t do in the corporate world, and The Marketing BAG was born!
What is advice you have for Moms wanting to start their own business? Take full advantage of your career or former career network and leverage those relationships to help you in your new venture. The designer I use is a referral from a former NYC co-worker. I use the same printer and food photographer that I used when I was in corporate marketing in Phoenix. They were happy to hear from me and to get new biz. I ask my former co-workers and agency for referrals and if I have a random marketing question. Be prepared to step out of the 8-5 work hours. I work during naps and late at night because my main focus is to be the primary caregiver, room mom, chauffeur, etc. for my kids. I also answer emails while on a park outing or take a conference call during my daughter’s Peppa Pig time. I’m present for my kids, but I also fit work in when I need to.
Kate Eschbach – Owner of Kate Eschbach Photography
What made you decide to start your own business? I started after receiving encouragement from coworkers that I was taking pictures for on the side.
What is advice you have for Moms wanting to start their own business? Take your time and set up a strong foundation!
Courtney Vitch – In the process of starting Courtney Vitch – Nutrition and Wellness
What made you decide to start your own business? I’ve always wanted to own my own business. I was looking at local nutrition openings at gyms and realized that I could provide more targeted services through my own brand instead of selling a company’s version of nutrition. I looked at the amount of money I have saved up to live on, and set a timeline for myself. Its super scary, but I would rather fail having tried, then wonder “what if?” I was also inspired by all the SMB moms that I have met at events who are working from home. You ladies all make this look doable.
What is advice you have for Moms wanting to start their own business? The biggest thing that has helped me so far is to build a supportive network, and to ask questions of people that have come before me. I was at a retreat for entrepreneurs last weekend, and I came away with so many ideas about how to move forward with building my business.