A Talk With Moms Who Are Taking Care of Business
Recently a survey was conducted that went out to a group of 24 women. These women are all moms running their own businesses. Women who chose to build a business while raising a family. Most of the participants had 2 children at home, though a few had more, and, as a group, their businesses spanned 30 years, beginning as early as 1986. They came from all different industries: counselors, lawyers, bakers, photographers, marketers, therapists, health and beauty experts, artists, and designers. One of the common challenges each of these women face is the burden of having to wear many hats as a business owner: Accountant, Marketing Department, Customer Service, Technical Support…you name it, they do it. What makes a mom decide to leave the security of a job or take on the mammoth challenges of starting and building a business? I wanted to know, so I created a survey which asked the following questions:
- What made you decide to become your own boss?
- What was your biggest challenge when you first began?
- What does success mean to you?
- What piece of advice would you give to other women business owners?
Let’s take a look at what these Mighty Mompreneurs had to say.
What made you decide to become your own boss?
The majority of respondents claimed they desired a flexible schedule so they could be at home while caring for their children. Elizabeth Lacasse began an outpatient mental health counseling practice in 2006 because she wanted “the flexibility to make my own hours and still be around to be with my kids. Also to avoid needing daily childcare.” Amy Bevan, a writer who founded her company QueenB Copywriting in 2014, says she left her job because “I wanted the flexibility to be there for my kids without the guilt of leaving the office early or asking for time off.” Susan Finn, owner of Susan Finn Online and mom of 4, says becoming her own boss allowed her the “freedom to make my own schedule and to be myself without having to fit into others’ ‘normal’.” Joy Beale, a Rodan and Fields representative since 2015, says she got involved in Direct Sales because she “wanted the freedom to be available for my family and contribute financially at the same time. Direct Sales has become the way e-commerce is heading and I wanted to be on the forefront of that movement.”
Chance of a Lifetime
A few of the respondents said becoming they own boss just happened. Cheryl Flynn, owner of the hair salon, Salon Dierfiur, said a change in her working situation occurred. “An opportunity presented itself and I took the chance!” Real Estate agent, Sandra Spencer of NorthStar Real Estate explains “I had always wanted to own my own business and I had an opportunity to pair up with the best in the business, Barbara O’Hara!” Jessica McHale, a professional photographer/Mompreneur since 2004 and owner of two studios, JLM Studio Wedding Photography and ChaosLoved Portrait and Family Photography, said that “starting my own business meant I could create the art I want to while running an ethical business I knew I could be proud of.” Participant Melissa Naclario was encouraged to start her own photography business, Modern Birdcage Photography, after sharing her work with others. “It just kind of happened. I was always a creative person and loved taking photographs. I posted some of my work on social media and people started contacting me asking if I would take photos for them. I thought to myself ‘I can do this!'”
What was your biggest challenge when you first began?
Patti Wagner-Miller has been her own boss for more than 30 years, starting out designing custom bridal and evening wear to now operating an interior design business. She said her biggest challenge 30 years ago was “balancing quality time with a baby and running a busy business.” Michelle Burke began a private practice counseling practice when her children were babies and struggled with “finding time to focus on my business with little ones at home.” Juice Plus representative Andrea Laplante found “the logistics of managing my family with a traveling husband” to be a major challenge in the beginning.
Jenna Crovo began her interior design business, Redefined Designs, in 2006 and found her biggest challenge was a “lack of confidence that I could actually build a business.” Amy Bevan said her biggest challenge was “my own self-doubt. It was hard to leave the comfort of a steady paycheck and take a leap into the unknown.” Baker Kristen Souza of Frosted Bake Shoppe says “the biggest challenge was having the confidence to put myself out there and be proud of the products I was supplying. It felt like a big leap to getting positive feedback from friends and family to actually charging customers for products.”
For many Mompreneurs, it can be difficult meeting other professionals who can help spread the word about their business. Oftentimes, moms working from home find it challenging to find the time and the resources to properly network. Dionne Katinas of The Marketing Studio since 1998 says her biggest challenge was “learning to network and find clients outside of the network that I had.” Attorney Faye Weiner-Jackson says “learning how to practice law, network, and take care of the business side of the practice all at once was a massive challenge.”
What does success mean to you?
Balanced Work Life/Home Life
When it comes to success, most of the Mompreneurs agree success isn’t measured in dollars. Most find being at a point where they can balance their responsibilities as “Mom” with the responsibilities that come with owning a business is the truest measure of success. Elizabeth Lacasse explains “Success means finding a balance between family and work which allows for fulfillment and happiness.” Jeanne Riley, owner of Renewal Therapeutic Massage since 2007, says “Success is doing what you love and loving what you do while trying to find a balance that fits the needs of your family, your business, your clients, and yourself.” Holly Giuliano, an Independent Team Beachboy Coach since 2011, explains “Success, to me, is feeling happy and fulfilled with both family and work.”
Barbara O’Hara, a real estate agent who went out on her own after 15 years of working for others, says “Real estate transactions are rarely easy, but if a client is happy with my services to the point they become a raving fan, I’ve succeeded.” Tricia White, owner of T. White Creations, says it’s about “having happy clients. When you visit and they are pleased with all the work you have accomplished and they are seeing results,” that is how she measures success. Dionne Katinas says “satisfied customers that keep referring me to others” is success, while copywriter Amanda Adams of Words Around the Block says success, to her, is when a customer tells her “you nailed it!” Holly Giuliano explains “being able to go to sleep at night with a smile on my face knowing that I served others and helped someone make healthy lifestyle changes” makes all the difference.
Following a Passion
Andrea Laplante left a corporate background to “do something with a purpose” and success to her is “owning my life.” Any Bevan tells us “success is reaching your full potential by taking charge of your future and refusing to settle for a job that doesn’t challenge or help you grow personally and professionally.” Darlene Sicard, owner of D’s Lectables, finds that for her success is “being able to earn a living by working at what I am passionate about.” Sicard goes on further to explain that it’s important to “define what your ‘success’ is” and to not “get caught up in trying to out succeed others.”
Success Can Mean Different Things
For others, there is no one definition of success. Jenna Crovo explains “I think the answer to this changes over time. For me, it is having my business and balancing it with other family and personal goals. If each year I reach the goals I set and grow my business more then the year before, I feel I am continuing to succeed.”
What piece of advice would you give to other women business owners?
For me, this was the most important question on the survey. As leaders of women-owned businesses, Mompreneurs have been through the struggles and sacrifices it often takes to get to the point where they have achieved a level of success that they are happy with. It’s these experiences, the trials and the errors that these women have been through, that allows them to look back and reflect on lessons they have learned. Here are some of my favorite responses to this question. I hope other women reading this article might take advantage of the wise words that these women shared as they venture out on their own journeys to becoming a Mighty Mompreneur.