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10 Ways to Become a Mompreneur from Brilliant Ladies Who’ve Aced It
Ask a question the likes of “how to be a mompreneur” twenty years back, and you’d get either the “crazy woman” look or “no results found” — depending on whether you asked your boss or Google. Fast forward to nowadays, and we can safely say: mompreneurship is so in, it’s kind of the new black.
After decades of struggle, women and mothers are no longer paralyzed at the dead-end ultimatum of career vs. family. From negotiating with clients on the go to being there for our kids’ school plays, we can really do it all —including dazzling yesterday’s skeptics with our unstoppable energy and vision.
All of this has been possible thanks to the untiring efforts of women leaders. Women like those we’ll tell you about today.
If you’ve been checking out mompreneurship but are still a tad hesitant as to where to start and how to balance the demands of a business with the 24/7 family workday, these 10 first-hand stories will fill you with motivation and courage.
Apply them to your own life situation, skills, and goals for maximum benefit — these moms will be super happy to have inspired you!
#1 Use stress to awaken your inner Edison
When stress catches up with us, it’s way too easy to give in. But all that adrenaline can also trigger unrivalled ideas and “aha” moments. That’s what happened to J.K. Rowling when she drafted precious ideas on something as unattractive as…an airplane vomit bag. That’s also what happened to Debra Pally from Flyaway Designs when, after stressful flights with two toddlers, she invented a product that helps children sleep and play on planes.
Debra’s product, the Flyaway Kids Bed, is a kid-sized bed that “grows out” of an Economy-class plane seat. Getting her product compliant didn’t happen on the fly, however. “It hasn’t always been easy,” Debra shares. “Faced with complex quality and design requirements from the airline industry, I invited key stakeholders to give their feedback to my prototypes – a step I recommend to all entrepreneurs. As a result, regulators and major airlines influenced the design of FlyawayKids Bed and paved the way for its approval by 30+ airlines.”
Mompreneur tip: If there’s something that habitually stresses you out in the office, on the road, at home, or wherever you find yourself, chances are other people (especially busy moms) have similar issues. Use the problem at hand to spark inventive ideas, and to make sure you’re moving in the right direction, ask for feedback from your target audience throughout the process.
#2 Target niches within your industry
Many a mom can make a blast on the entrepreneurship arena by zooming in on the skills she already owns. Finding a niche within your industry will help you go solo while drawing upon the confidence of your existing professionalism.
As a femalepreneur in the health and wellness sector, medical professional turned Celebrity Nutritionist Maggie Berghoff knows how to find one’s perfect spot. “Being a female business owner in the Functional Medicine health and wellness space is competitive,” Maggie says. What helps her “push through every day” is precisely her past experience as a Nurse Practitioner proving “how much value and impact this industry provides in people’s lives.”
To help “monetize” your skills, Maggie advises business mentorship as an irreplaceable help for first-time entrepreneurs. “Hire someone who is excelling in what you’re pursuing,” Maggie shares. “This … accelerates everything, saving years of time and effort, not to mention the stress of trial and error. Yes, it’s an investment each time you do this, but I guarantee the ROI will be immeasurable.”
Mompreneur tip: Create a mind map of your industry, with all its various niches. Research your competitors to find out what they’re doing and try to find a gap in the market. For example, you may cater to a specific age category or consumer class. If you can’t afford sessions with a business mentor in a particular field, join the community of femalepreneurs via blogs, communities, and networking events.
#3 Go from corporate to caring
Based on an average life span, each of us spends 90, 000 hours, or 13 nonstop years working. Now, what if all those years could add up not to serving the interests of billion-dollar corporations, but doing work that leaves a trace and matters to people around you?
That’s exactly what Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder and CEO of Mavens and Moguls, a global marketing consulting firm, did. Following 9/11, after a company she worked for cut their marketing, Paige took her two decades’ worth of experience at Corporate America and became what she calls an “accidental entrepreneur”. “When I worked at big companies I always felt the ball would roll with or without me, ” Paige shares. “Now my DNA is in everything we do and I can trace every decision and sale to something I did or a decision I made.”
And it’s not just about the money. “I feel I have found my purpose because I used to work all the time and life was passing me by,” Paige says of her corporate days. “I got raises and promotions [but] I did not feel fulfilled.” The key to that fulfilling life? Aiming higher.
Mompreneur tip: If you’re a pro at things like accounting, marketing, sales, or HR, and your skills bring big money to some organization, consider how much of a difference they can make working for you personally. In addition to being your own boss, you’ll be able to connect with other leaders in the field and support worthy causes. Here’s a simple 8-step guide to help you join the ranks of entrepreneurs for good.
#4 Don’t wait to be inspired
Inspiration is terrific fuel, but faith and perseverance are the real tools you’ll need to launch (and keep in orbit) your business’s “rocket ship”.
Keeping her cool is exactly what helped mother of four and founder of Creative Legacy Group Katherine Adams push through challenging times. “My journey started back in 2013 when I first got my insurance license after my mother in law died without any,” Katherine shares. “When I started…we were seeing people in-home and door-knocking without appointments.”
Balancing work that involved much travel and no steady income with four small kids was no easy job, even with the support of her husband. However, acting on the “prods” of life without giving in to doubt has paid Katherine off a thousandfold. 6 years after she started going door-to-door on her own, Katherine is the owner of a life and health agency that does close to $2 million a year. She says it’s her “faith, courage, and work ethic” that ultimately “provided for me and my family in a way that I never knew existed.”
Mompreneur tip: Getting licensed in a specific industry can be a great way to steer yourself towards change. Starting with baby steps, take time to gain your clientele and become trusted in your community— keep in mind that this can take up to several years. Even in days when your motivation is totally down, you’ll find that the “slow and steady” approach of long-term investment can work wonders.
#5 Leap out of your comfort zone
Whatever your notion of comfort zones, mompreneurship is a huge leap beyond any. But sometimes, it demands double the effort, both on the home front and in conquering unknown territory — all for the sake of family.
Natalie Setareh, a former U.S. Air Force Officer turned luxury makeup artist, traded combat boots for a creative career at home base. “My options were to stay in the military, deploy, and leave my infant son with working grandparents across the country or separate from the military, get knee-deep in motherhood, champion my spouse’s career, and pave my own path,” says Natalie. “I chose the latter.”
This family-first approach is what made Natalie into a world-touring luxury makeup artist, educator, and author of “Be Your Own Makeup Artist”. She encourages aspiring mompreneurs not to be afraid to shock everyone with their determination. “Staying on the path society expects of you can ultimately take you away from your family,” says Natalie. “Why not inspire those nearest to you, your children, in pursuing your passion? It’s the best legacy you could leave!”
Mompreneur tip: Some of us have big dreams that sound downright crazy against the background we come from. Becoming a mom can be a terrific time to go off the “expectations” grid and prove your own worth. Discover the kinds of work you’d actually be proud to do for years to come, and see how you can become a role model to your kids.
#6 Think outside the box
If your idea of a tech innovator is a sleep-deprived guy sitting up nights coding, think again! Brilliant tech ladies like Christy Laurence, recently featured at the Vogue Codes Sydney Summit for digital innovators, are shaking up the idea of female innovators. With her unique Instagram management app, Plann, listed in the top 1,100 grossing apps in the world, Christy is a global inspiration to female-owned startups.
“There is currently a great spotlight on female tech founders with lots of additional opportunities opening up,” Christy says. Though she notes that bias is still strong in her particular industry, and “males from other companies will typically search out other males… to have technical conversations”, she says that “people tend to remember you when you’re a female tech founder kicking goals which can definitely have its advantages.”
Even lack of a tech background isn’t mandatory if you’re willing to put in the extra effort. “Not having an engineering background, and the incredibly huge learning curve to understand the complexities” did make the journey tougher for Christy. But if that didn’t stop her from scaling a “full-stack software team across 10 countries, in very little time,” neither should it stop you!
Mompreneur tip: “Life-hacker” moms with big ideas but no programming degrees— how about building your dream app even without coding knowledge? With visual platforms like AppMakr, anyone can build and publish their own app. No tech gene required.
#7 Connect with the gals
Sometimes, a mom can come up with an idea large-hearted enough to benefit not only her own family but embrace a whole community of women nationwide. When Alison Bernstein founded Suburban Jungle, a real estate and lifestyle advisory firm dedicated to helping young families leave urban life for suburban, she was doing more than pursuing her own passion.
Creating a groundbreaking company that hires 100% moms, Alison dove into the talent pool of women who’ve traded successful careers to be moms. With four kids of her own, Alison knows everything there is about mompreneurship. “Being a woman in a career and a mother in a career are two very different things,” she says. “Once you are a parent, your decisions and time are not totally your own… I see so many women drop out of the workforce because of the difficulty in balancing and the guilt.”
By organizing a network of “mom” real estate agents nationwide, Alison encouraged women to drop the burden of guilt and instead “work hard, but on their own schedules”. How does she accomplish this? “In today’s world, flexibility and multitasking are key to mom’s success on the job,” says Alison. “With the help of connective technology, it has never been more manageable.”
Mompreneur tip: Can you think of a bunch of women who’re in a similar life situation as yourself? Consider building an idea that all of you can collaborate on from individual locations. This doesn’t have to be a business partnership, but rather a network of remote workers across the city/state/country. Don’t forget these simple (and low-cost) digital tools to stay connected with your mompreneur team and clients.
#8 Become a virtual pioneer
Most of the things we now regularly do virtually — such as shopping, watching movies, and even chatting with friends — were once exclusive to “real life”. The age of “virtual” everything has transformed us — and from an entrepreneurship perspective, made any business affordable.
Filling a “void in the [virtual] market” is exactly how Jessica Hawley founded Peachtree Legal Support, a virtual paralegal and legal administrative support firm. In the five years it’s been in business, the virtual paradigm has profited everyone. “Our support services encompass all aspects of practice management,” says Jessica. “[They] allow our attorneys to cut costs, increase profits and improve client relations while freeing up more time for the attorney to focus on practicing law and growing their business.”
While “balancing work and family life is still a juggling act”, Jessica says that “having the ability to be there for my children (even if I’m sitting in the bleachers working on my laptop at a football game or on the floor at karate practice) is priceless and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Mompreneur tip: Have you always dreamed of owning a practice but the burdens of office rent and additional employees have just been too high? Try applying your idea to the virtual realm, and never mind being a pioneer! With assistants like a virtual phone system, virtual apps/tools, and freelance helpers, you’ll be able to do business online while being physically present for all the milestones of your family.
#9 Unleash your inner guru
Women leaders have unparalleled charisma and vision that helps them achieve breakthroughs in their industry. Behind many a great leader, though, there’s been a strong mentor who navigated them through that journey.
Kate Swoboda is Founder of the Courageous Living Program and author of The Courage Habit. Life coach and facilitator on women’s leadership, she uses her knowledge in habit-formation and emotional resilience to empower women leaders. “When I first walked into the land of entrepreneurship in 2006, most of the industry thought leaders in marketing and leadership were men,” Kate remembers. “Now I see more and more women offering profound insights and being recognized.”
While noting that the journey may get rough, Kate encourages femalepreneurs to think in perspective. “See everything that you do to grow your business as being equivalent to investing small amounts of change in a savings account that accrues interest,” she advises. “You won’t see, right away, how those small deposits are going to pay off [but] you’ll be so proud when they do and so glad that you built something from nothing that can grow.”
Mompreneur tip: Reach out to others by teaching something you’re good at. Whether it’s yoga classes, arts&crafts masterclasses, creative childcare programs, or motivational writing/speaking, when there’s a will, there’s a way to use your skills to empower others. Best of all, being a coach demands the least budget investment — over time, your best promoters will be your happy students.
#10 Learn from your toughest experiences
The toughest experiences in life can teach us a lot about preparing for the best ones. Denise Stern, CEO of Let Mommy Sleep, the industry-leading team of night nurses and newborn caregivers, turned mompreneur after surviving an extreme experience.
“I started LMS after my twins were born and my son was 17 months old,” Denise shares. “I ‘thought’ I had it all figured out but a very dangerous bout of pre-eclampsia, which left me near death during the birth of my girls led me to understand the need for postpartum care in the US.”
Denise attributes the immense popularity of her business (now in 6 cities and expanding) to its first steps of solving an immensely underrated issue. “As a country, we’re just now starting to address [maternal mortality],” says Denise. “The many years of not having women’s health taken seriously was a challenge. Most of us think of “disruption” as a tech term, but when it comes to how we treat other humans, disruption happens slowly, person to person.”
Mompreneur tip: Personal life-changing experiences can be a huge impetus to change something in society that’s previously been ignored. If you’ve lived through a crossroads where you had nowhere to turn for help, think: a) what would’ve helped you in your situation b) how to share that experience and solution with others. Much of the time, it will turn out that many women share the same frustration and are desperately in need of a helping hand.
As these brilliant femalepreneurs prove, “how to be a mompreneur” is no longer a question we need to answer — it’s a reality worth embracing. But if there’s one thing that’s underrated about mompreneurship, it’s what Denise Stern calls the “unglamorous stuff”.
Finding motivation in the tedious, repetitive, and boring work is what ultimately defines a successful entrepreneur and lets you keep on creating the personal story that will inspire your kids, family, and perhaps even thousands of strangers worldwide.
Feed your inner mompreneur with more tips on making it in small business (just below), and complement with our limited time offer on a business phone system for mobile-first moms.
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