Entrepreneur Mom

with Aliza Sherman

If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.

To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website, www.mediaegg.com.

Gaining Support by Giving Support

Categories: Work/Life

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Traci Bisson is a businesswoman with two sons. In 2008 she founded The Mom Entrepreneur, a company that provides networking, support and resources for entrepreneurial moms. Pro-blogger, Gina Blitstein, recently interviewed Traci to discover how a lady who is so adept at helping other moms in business copes with her own life as a mom entrepreneur.

While Traci is somewhat of an unintentional entrepreneur, once she made the leap, she has fearlessly positioned herself as a beacon of hope and assistance for her fellow mom entrepreneurs. On behalf of Work It, Mom, I asked Traci about how she succeeds at “taking her own advice” in balancing both these challenging roles: motherhood and businesswoman.

WIM: What factors inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
TB: I was inspired to become an entrepreneur by watching three companies that I worked for go out of business. Of course I was scared about the risks involved, but I decided there would be more security for me and my family if I started my own business. Shortly thereafter the events of 9-11 unfolded and I decided life was too short. I needed to focus on quality of life, which I gained by becoming a mom entrepreneur.

WIM: How did your family react when you decided to become an entrepreneur?
TB: There was not much advanced warning. After the third company I worked for showed signs of going out of business; I gave my notice. Their policy was same day so I packed up my desk and headed home. At home, I asked my husband if he would take the box out of the trunk. That is when he learned about my decision. My husband has a lot of faith with me and has supported me from day one.

WIM: What is the most gratifying part of being an entrepreneur?
TB: The ability to spend quality time with my children. I am there when they get off the bus and I can attend sporting events, school concerts, assemblies, field trips and more. I love the flexibility.

WIM: What is the most challenging part of being an entrepreneur?
TB: Being a mom entrepreneur. It is always an ongoing struggle to balance motherhood with running a business, and to ensure that you are always putting family first.

WIM: How does the life of an entrepreneur mom differ from that of other working moms?
TB: As an entrepreneur, you are always on. You find yourself working nights and weekends because it is your business and your life. As a mom in the corporate world, even though I worked long hours, I was able to leave the job behind and be fully present with my kids. I do struggle with being fully present nowadays. There is also the ongoing challenge to keep your business profitable. Perhaps not as much today, but when I worked in the corporate world 10 years ago, I had the security of knowing I had a paycheck every week.

WIM: How do you keep yourself inspired to move forward with your business each and every day?
TB: I truly love what I do and working with mom entrepreneurs every day is very inspiring. It is like working with a big family of women everyday who genuinely want to help one another and believe in the “pay it forward” mentality. I also love having the flexibility to arrange my schedule around my sons’ schedules.

WIM: Are you more likely to combine family time and business time or draw a sharp distinction between the two?
TB: I always try to draw the distinction in order to be fair to my children and my clients. But I will tell you that a Blackberry IS a girl’s best friend.

WIM: What do your children learn from having an entrepreneur for a mom?
TB: I am not sure that they are learning much since they have not seen me in a traditional work setting. I think they see the difference between my husband and my work schedules however. I am always there for them when needed whereas my husband does not yet have that luxury. We do constantly reinforce that they can do anything and be anyone they want to be if they just set their mind to it. I would hope that I am teaching them to be more self confident and that there are things in this world that are more important then the amount of money you make in a year. Family comes first and that is the most important thing in life.

WIM: How are you at delegating?
TB: I delegate to my kids, my husband, to my freelance workers, my office manager, etc. I find that I can delegate most everything except when it comes to specific details about my business. I try to limit how much I work in my business and increase the amount of time I work on my business.

WIM: How are you at managing “me time?”
TB: I try to be very conscious of this. At age 40, I know I need to watch my stress level, exercise regularly and eat healthy. I consider taking me-time every day a top priority. I manage it by trying to take time every morning for a workout and escaping for quiet time when needed.

WIM: How does the business you are in help other moms?
TB: The Mom Entrepreneur is an online resource that offers tips, advice and resources for women balancing motherhood and running a company. Since its inception in April 2008, The Mom Entrepreneur has continued to grow. The company added The Mom Entrepreneur Online Support Group in June 2008, which now has over 1,100 members who network with each other and offer support. The company also runs The Mom Entrepreneur Co-op Shop, which includes bargains on dozens of products and services as well as an educational teleseminar series covering a wide range of topics important to mom entrepreneurs.

WIM: What is your proudest professional achievement?
TB: Honestly, it was graduating college. I was suspended from college after the first year and took 4 years off to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Those 4 years taught me a lot. When I returned to college, I was on the fast track to finish my degree, find a job and have a family.

WIM: What is your proudest personal achievement?
TB: The birth of my two sons, who took me a total of 64 hours to bring into this world.

In her work as a champion of entrepreneurial moms, Traci has met and inspired many of these dedicated women. In an effort to demonstrate her admiration for entrepreneurial moms, Traci has partnered with Lucinda Cross, founder of Corporate Mom DropOuts to launch a contest called The Business Baby Shower. The contest’s title references the similarities between giving birth to a child and giving birth to a business with all the inherent challenges and joys.“We work extensively with mom entrepreneurs and are continually inspired by their creativity, innovative ideas, tenacity, exceptional multi-tasking and ability to balance their careers and families,” she proudly declares. “The Business Baby Shower celebrates all of these wonderful attributes and allows us to highlight and honor some really amazing women.”

Traci’s enthusiasm and dedication for helping women succeed in their business and their life is evident. Her business works because it creates a network of moms who help each other gain strength, support and knowledge. Finding work/life balance as a mom entrepreneur - it is possible to do - and do well - with a little help from your fellow mom entrepreneurs. Traci herself is proof of that.

What have you learned from other moms about balancing work and life?

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