Who knew that my vision of a spotless office, organized trips to the post office and soft classical music in the background would be overrun by deadlines, sick children, PTA meetings and zero vacation days? Welcome to the life of a Mompreneur.
According to the Center for Women’s Business Research, women business owners provide 23 million jobs! Unfortunately, the only woman I know of who owns a business is Kimora, and she doesn’t even know we’re friends. With only male business owner role models to follow, all of whom had stay at home wives to mother their children and keep house, I was a little unsure of how to start a business while balancing motherhood, marriage, and life in general.
Here are a few things I wish someone had told me about being a woman business owner:
1. Do not hire your friends. Friendship is a lovely relationship full of favors, juicy gossip, crying, shopping, and eating. When you hire a friend, it can become very difficult to separate the friendship from the work relationship. Common issues that arise are managing performance and determining timecard hours. Think about it — you used to ask your friend to go run something to the post office for you. Now that she’s an employee, she would probably expect to put that errand on her timecard.
2. Do hire an excellent babysitter and housekeeper. Treat this like a real job because this person will be your most important employee. There are many nanny and housekeeping services available, however; I strongly recommend looking within your own circle of acquaintances. Find someone pleasant, dependable, and honest with all the skills you need, and you’ve got yourself a staff of one. This employee can help keep your home and home office organized and clean, watch the kids to give you time to catch up on some work or make phone calls, run errands, and give you valuable feedback on your business.
3. Do recognize that you are not your husband’s employer. They tend to not like this. It can be very difficult to negotiate deals, gain clients, plan projects, host meetings, and move your business forward all day and forget to take your boss hat off when you get home. I am not a marriage counselor, but I am married and I am also observant. Marriages seem to work best as a partnership, so if you find yourself thinking about firing your spouse, opt for a hot bath and an early bedtime and see how you feel in the morning.
4. Do not be afraid to be fantastic. This is your opportunity to put your vision into action. Hone in on what specific things make your company different from other businesses. Find your niche, and claim it. Treat your customers exceptionally well and care about them. They will bring you project after project and tell their friends about the wonderful work you do.