May 2017

Balancing Act: How Mompreneurs Can Have It All

Author: Lucy Rosen

The toughest and most wonderful client I’ve ever had.” That’s how I used to describe my daughter, Samantha (Sam) when she was an infant and my NYC public relations and marketing agency was exploding with growth and success. When I decided to have a child, I had visions of putting her in one of those bouncy chairs on my desk as we spent the day together—her being quiet and cute. Ha! My bundle of joy would have nothing to do with a bouncy seat on my desk; she was an early crawler, an early walker and an early talker, and my business was growing quickly, despite the fact that I was operating on little, if any, sleep most days. I had no family to lean on and an absent husband.

My second employee for my business was a nanny. There was no way I could do it all and do it well, so it became apparent that something had to “give.” Like most “mompreneurs” (which I was, even before the term had officially been coined), I wasn’t willing to have that something be Sam, me or the business.

Growing up, Sam attended almost all my speaking engagements, helped sell raffle tickets at large scale agency events, acted as a model in ads we produced for clients, learned how to make copies at age six for billing details, and became a “mascot” (of sorts) for the office. Was it challenging? Sure. Would I do it differently? No way.

My daughter has grown up learning that mompreneurs are amazingly creative at getting things done. She has learned what entrepreneurship is about. She has met Fortune 500 CEOs, top political leaders, movie and rock stars and has traveled to places “on business” she probably never would have seen. She now has a job with one of our clients as the director of social media as she finishes her college degree. I couldn’t be prouder of her accomplishments—and of the way she has easily picked up the ability to problem solve.

I often think back to those early days of me multi-tasking—finishing a client proposal while simultaneously working side-by-side with her as she did her homework at the kitchen table. In addition to English, math and science, Sam learned a lot at that kitchen table, including the just-as-important lesson that women are amazing multi-taskers, that they can successfully manage both a home and a business…and that being a mompreneur can truly be a way to “have it all” and then some.

As I followed Heather Quinn, owner of Louette’s (a beautiful boutique located in Village at Wexford) to a “meet and greet” with other merchants in the center, she had her baby Rose balanced on one hip, pushing her stroller with one hand with flyers for an event in the other. She was determined to finish handing out the flyers by noon so she could go pick up daughter Ella Grace, age three and a half, from Montessori and finish her afternoon at home, ordering merchandise for her store, preparing lunch for both kids, probably doing laundry and thinking about dinner. Did I mention she had grass plastered to her back, having just come from a “boot camp” workout session?—yes, with Rose along, too! I was exhausted just watching her.

Been there, done that. But, just like me, Quinn (who credits “amazing help” from her husband, an awesome nanny and a great staff who often help entertain her daughters when she has to take them into work at the shop) wouldn’t change a thing when it comes to her decision to become a mompreneur.

“Whether you own a business, stay at home, work from home or work fulltime, motherhood is tough. I feel lucky to be able to teach my daughters that they can do or be whatever they want, and that hard work pays off,” she said. In addition to being a strong role model for her young daughters, Quinn enjoys being a role model for other working moms. “In this age of social media, I think it’s important to show that success, motherhood and life in general is not always picture-perfect. I try to be authentic, and Louette, as a business, operates that way too. We are not perfect, and some days are a compete fail. But it makes the days when I do feel like I’ve got it all together that much sweeter.”

Bella Johnson was two years old when Emily Johnson, founder and president of Polaris Capital Advisors, LLC started her financial advisory and investment management company for individuals, families, and privately held businesses. Bella has had her own “office” since the first day, which has changed over the years as she has grown. (It is now full of art supplies and other 10-year-old girl “stuff.”)

“Our schedule is always full, and yes, we usually get dressed in the morning out of the ‘clean clothes’ pile in the laundry room. But the tradeoff has been the ability to spend more time with my daughter and build a business that genuinely serves a need, which is both intellectually stimulating and successful. Quite frankly, I know I have more independence as a business owner than if I were working with a firm,” she said. “I was very fortunate in that I have received and continue to receive a lot of moral support and help with child care for Bella from my family. “If you are a woman thinking of being a mompreneur, make sure you have a plan for childcare in advance. Polaris wouldn’t be as successful as it is without my parents, sister, and a few key caregivers.”

I asked Emily when she last worked an eight-hour day, and she laughed. “All the days run together for me. I tell myself, ‘If I get this done today, or tonight, then I will have time to do X tomorrow: maybe take a run, hit golf balls with Bella, whatever. But realistically, there’s always more left to do.”

Dr. Carmen Traywick doesn’t have a nanny. She doesn’t have a live-in au pair for her three girls- Isabel (10), Elena (7) and Ava (3). She does, however have a very energetic mother-in-law who lives close by and a supportive husband/business partner. Traywick, co-owner and founder of May River Dermatology and Lux-A Medical Spa not only has a full roster of patients, but she also oversees management and training of the clinical staff and works on the strategic business planning for the company. When she moved to Bluffton, to start “her little business,” she was eight months pregnant with her second child, and Isabel was two. “The days before we opened our practice, I strapped Elena (a newborn at the time) to my chest in her Bjorn and went about stocking the office, hanging equipment on the wall and getting ready to open.” When asked what she has had to give up to own her business and raise her children, she said she’s had to miss quite a bit: kids getting awards at school, being a “room mom,” and numerous Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Halloween parties at school. On the flip side, being a successful business owner, she has the financial means and autonomy to plan amazing family vacations where 100 percent of her time and energy can be focused on her family.

Traywick knows she is a good role model for her three girls and has some advice for other women who are thinking of having a business and a child at the same time: “You won’t be able to do it all, but you will make it work. If you are smart enough to start your own business, you will find a way to be a great mom, too. Don’t stress over the things you miss. Rather, enjoy the benefits you will have from being your own boss.”
Sounds like sage advice to me…and a recipe for success for all the current, and future, mompreneurs who are trying to balance it all.

According to Entrepreneur.com, a mompreneur is defined as “a female business owner who is actively balancing the role of mom and the role of entrepreneur.” So, whether it’s balancing baby gym classes with that new business proposal, or learning how to effectively multi-task without missing a beat (okay, maybe just one beat), the key is learning to strike just the right balance. Trust me, it isn’t always easy. But once you find it, as these successful women and I have, you’ll be thrilled that you did and happy to join the ranks of business women/moms who are showing the world, every day, just what a mompreneur can do. 

Lucy Rosen has been a mompreneur for 22 years and is the chief solutions officer at SmartMarketing Communications, LLC—a public relations, marketing and business development firm with offices in Bluffton, South Carolina and clients all over the world. For more information, visit smartmarketingcommunications.com.

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