Great Preparation for Entrepreneurship Is Motherhood
As a mother of three children, including twin girls, I have to say, I couldn’t have been better prepared for entrepreneurship! The struggles of motherhood, especially in the early years, gave me the tools I needed to handle the strains and stresses of running my own business.
Being a mother often feels like the most thankless and unappreciated job, you work countless unpaid hours, and you usually have to think on your feet. To my surprise I found entrepreneurship to be very similar, so I have noted down the five main things that being a mother has helped me with over the last seven years on my entrepreneurial journey.
Number 1- Don’t Panic Easily.
Ok, so as a first time Mum with my son, I did panic a little when things happened, as I never knew any better. His ‘belly button stump thing’ coming off as a newborn was traumatic for me, as I thought it must be painful for him (apparently it’s not), so I dashed to the Dr’s in my pj’s all flustered and weepy. By the time my twins came along, after a very very stressful high-risk pregnancy, I was so chill about things! I literally learned not to sweat the small stuff, I learned to quit trying to change what was, and just accept what I had, three beautiful kids!
As an entrepreneur, I have felt some waves of panic over the years, but I have never allowed them to build into a tsunami, to overwhelm me and knock me off my path. I understand that shit happens all the time, and the inability to stay focused on my end goals would eventually damage the success of my company.
Number 2 – Working Long Hours & Handling Exhaustion.
There were moments when the twins were babies that I didn’t think I was going to survive with my sanity in tact. I remember going into my garage and screaming because I was so exhausted and worn down from their demands on me physically and emotionally. You know what though, it got better and I got through it.
Starting a company from scratch meant initially working 2 jobs, my full time day job selling radio as a senior account manager, and my full time night time job at Trusted. Initially I was writing a business plan, building sales presentations, then I was working on my websites and creating a cohesive and effective marketing strategy. 5 months into it, I left the radio job and was working at least 80 hours a week – I was doing sales, all the administration, blogging, marketing and building the foundation for www.trustedsaskatoon.com. 6 weeks later we launched to the public and I haven’t looked back!
Granted, I rarely work that many hours a week now, but I did for many years. Occasionally I still have to put in a few 80 hour weeks to get things done. If something unexpected happens, such as team members leaving unexpectedly, or a big project that needs to get finished by a firm deadline I am my ONLY fallback!
Number 3 – Flexibility
For most of us, Motherhood is a combination of many roles. We are nurses, cooks, teachers, counsellors, coaches, unpaid taxi-drivers, hairdressers and dispute resolution experts. A few years into motherhood, and we interchange through the roles seamlessly, even if we had no prior experience in most of them!
To be a successful entrepreneur you MUST possess or cultivate a variety of different skills to be successful in the long term. Some of them you may only need to do for a while, some you have to do every day! For me,
In periods of uncomfortability I truly grow as a leader AND as a mother.
Number 4 – Risk Taking
How many mothers WANT their kids to fall? It’s a hard thing to watch, but most of us understand, that to progress from dependant infants to independent adults, our children must go through stages of falling and failing!
When I started working on my business plan, I was a single mother of 3 kids under the age of 6. I was going through a messy separation and all my life savings were frozen in trust with lawyers. My Father couldn’t understand why I was considering risking a well-paying career in radio to follow my dream to start an online directory advertising business, where I put businesses through a verification process before I’d take their money. It was a new, unproven concept and to be frank he didn’t really get it. Neither did the VP of the radio company I worked for. When I met with him to share my plans and to request permission to work on this on my own time, he said,
Sara, this is a mistake, websites don’t make money …what are you going to do when it fails?
Granted, they both had a point, it was clearly the wrong time on paper for me to risk everything and pursue this idea, so why did I move forward with it? The fear of someone else doing it drove me to take the risk…I would have regretted it for the rest of my life if I’d waited for the ‘right time’ and then missed the opportunity altogether.
There is no RIGHT time to become an entrepreneur, you either risk and move forward or stay where you are and remain safe.
How did those risks work out?
- In 2017 Trustedregina.com became Trusted’s first licensed market and is now owned by the fantastic Bonnie Day, who used to be an employee. It is steadily growing.
- Trusted Marketing Services now employs 2 graphic designers, 2 developers and a project manager, all full time and all
in house. It is now equal in revenue to Trusted directories and in 2019 projections are that it will become the largest side of the business.
Number 5- Handling Objections and Rejection
If you don’t handle objections well as a mother, your kids will just eat candy, drink pop and play video games 24/7. The word NO came out of my children’s mouths a lot as toddlers and now my teenage son is wearing it out! Motherhood is a constant negotiation process, and at times, your kids may reject your thoughts, rules, comfort and advice altogether! Good parents don’t give in, or throw in the towel; they handle the objections, brush off the rejections and stay the course!
None among us like being rejected, but when it comes to business and particularly sales, rejection is guaranteed! As an entrepreneur that has your eyes on the ultimate success of your business, you need to be less affected by NO, and be prepared to handle objections and the consequences of rejection effectively. How?
- Ask for feedback– There is no harm in asking them a reason behind rejection but be polite. Most of the time, people think refusal means rejecting the entire proposal and everything about it which is not always true. There might be a small part of your plan that got rejected which means you need to find out what it is and start working on it so that you don’t have to face rejection again and again.
- No now doesn’t mean no never – At Trusted I had many clients say no even before they understood what they were saying no too. At times that was hard! I try to keep a positive attitude, I know hands down our value proposition is better than any other option they could consider – so that bolsters my confidence- It can be tough, but it should be taken as a challenge to be better, not a defeat. Some of the people that said no to me initially have now been clients for years, others missed the opportunity to be on www.trustedsaskatoon.com and now they want on but their category is full…now there’s a lesson in having an open mind as an entrepreneur to listen to new ideas!
- Keeping track of sales rejection is important – Are you tracking your sales? It is an essential step to finding out the holes in your sales process. By keeping track of your proposal vs closed sales ratio, you can know how many times your sales offer got rejected, what were the reasons, what have you done to improve, what has worked and what didn’t. Doing so will help you reach conclusions and work on the solutions.
As a boss, you will also have to deal with objections from your team and possible rejection from prospective hires. You must curb any defensiveness and be sure to LISTEN to the feedback. Leaders need to be big-picture thinkers, but sometimes that means you miss small, but important details on the way. Allow your team to help you see the things you miss, or you may be trying to row, steer and fix a sinking ship by yourself! Motherhood and entrepreneurship require emotional intelligence to be successful, so mothers are VERY well positioned to be the best entrepreneurs!
The Last Word From A Momtrepreneur
Great Preparation for Entrepreneurship Is Motherhood. Having children is like starting a business. If you can believe it, my kids AND my business both happened quite accidentally. My business concept came from a negative customer service experience, which I then
I tried to cover all the bases, I asked others who had been there before me, I bought all the books, I Googled the crap out of everything, and I figured I wasn’t the first or the last person to either give birth or start a business, so I’d be fine! Somedays I feel like I fail at both, but my kids love me and give me a break, same with my clients and my team…who all ROCK, and if anything, being a mother taught me to suck it up, go to sleep, learn from the mistakes and try again tomorrow!
Sara Wheelwright – Momtrepreneur & Marketing Maverick