As Mother’s Day approaches, let’s take a moment to applaud those intrepid mothers of invention -- mompreneurs -- who nurture not only their families, but also their dreams of bringing a new product or service into the world. Mompreneurs make up one of the country’s fastest-growing, most innovative groups of small business owners today.
The women we interviewed for my new book, Birthing the Elephant: The Woman’s Go-For-It! Guide to Launching a New Business (Ten Speed Press), totally embraced the idea that launching a venture is a lot like giving birth. One tremendously successful woman even compared her business to having a third child. For all those aspiring women entrepreneurs currently on diaper duty or school pick-up patrol who need a little boost through the starting gate, here are seven great reasons why being a mom admirably equips you to be your own boss:
1.) Emotions run high. Most people focus on the three Ms when they think of starting a business: money, marketing, and management. But there’s a fourth M -- motivation -- and it’s at the heart of small-business survival. Emotional stamina and staying power are keys to success as an entrepreneur. During your launch, you’ll find yourself on an emotional rollercoaster -- the highs are higher and the lows are lower than they are in a regular job. Surviving these ups and downs isn’t easy, but it’s as essential in nurturing a fledgling business as it is in nurturing a baby to be.
2.) You’re taking a voyage into the unknown. As an entrepreneur, you’re trading comfort for growth. To succeed, you need to push past self-imposed limits and take on tasks that are unfamiliar to you. As one entrepreneur put it, “You’ll never discover a new world unless you have courage enough to leave the shore.” Just as every baby is a wondrous mystery waiting to be discovered, so every new venture reveals its true nature in unexpected and unpredictable ways. Where you end up is rarely where you started out.
3.) The first days are the hardest days. Even seasoned moms-to-be will tell you that their first few months are usually the hardest, as their bodies and psyches adjust to the intense and profound changes they’re experiencing. The same is true for many entrepreneurs: The early, heady days of their launch are both exhilarating and enormously demanding. Nurturing a new venture will take everything you have: all your energy, creativity, resolve, and stamina are put on the line.
4.) Your identity disappears for a time. When you launch a new venture, you enter a kind of twilight zone that’s hard for people on the outside to understand. So consuming is the work and so committed are you, not just economically, but emotionally, that for a time, you are your business and your business is you. In many ways, this feeling is uncannily like expecting: for a time, the two of you are truly one.