8 Mompreneurs Reveal How They Achieved Success Without Sacrificing Family

By on February 22, 2016

 

mom∙pre∙neur – noun – a mother who takes on great financial risk and responsibility to start and/or operate a business while continuing to care for her family

Entrepreneurship is an incredibly all-consuming adventure. It often leaves little time and stamina for other pursuits like hobbies or second jobs (something thousands of busy entrepreneurs can attest to), let alone the protection and care of an entire family. Despite all odds, however, these eight mompreneurs managed to master the art of balancing business with family. We asked each of them how they did it.

What originally made you seriously consider starting your own business versus working for someone else?

Sarah Jagger, founder of Domestic Objects: I have been surrounded by entrepreneurs for quite some time. My husband as well as many of our friends are all entrepreneurs – but I never considered starting my own business. When we left Vancouver and moved overseas for my husband’s software company, I was on maternity leave with two small children, living in a foreign country . . . . Armed with some sewing experience, I was keeping myself busy by working on my hobbies. I love creating things. My husband likes to joke that I’m the “handyman” in the family, but it’s not really a joke – I am. All the power tools are mine.

Kalika Yap, founder of Citrus Studios, Luxe Link, The Waxing Co., and more: [With] Citrus Studios, I started making more money in my side business (doing website design as a freelancer) than at my full-time job. [With] Luxe Link, I wanted to come up with a product that I wanted. I invested in [The Waxing Co.] in Hawaii with my sister-in-law because I believed in the concept that there should be a place for waxing – there were no exclusive waxing salons when we started in 2007.

How did you get started?

Rachel Olsen, founder of Best Mom Products and author of Shark Tank Mompreneurs Take a Bite Out of Publicity: Like most entrepreneurs, I googled for information on how to start a product based business.  I couldn’t find a voice that resonated with me.  There were a lot of “mommy millionaire” type blogs, but I wanted a business voice that I could relate to, and it was mostly men in high tech.

The baby/kid product market hadn’t boomed yet.  When I was pregnant with my first daughter in 2007, I had to seek out a leather diaper bag at a boutique that had plastic inside because I wanted to still be stylish but functional.  There were very limited high-end products [then], and now the market is saturated.

At the same time, I met with a group of mom entrepreneurs and we’d exchange information while our kids played.  The more women I met, the more I learned and knew others could too.

That’s what let me to start BestMomProducts.com, which was initially a video podcast interview show on iTunes and Stitcher where ‘mompreneurs shared their adventures in business.’  It’s now evolved into two brands: Best Mom Products digital magazine and RachelAOlsen.com PR and Marketing services, [as well as] two books and an online DIY PR course for entrepreneurs.

April Perry, founder of Power of Moms and Learn.Do.Become:  I launched a simple site called www.powerofmoms.com back in 2007, a few weeks before delivering my fourth child. It wasn’t started as a business and isn’t managed as one. It’s more of a community to help others.  I had been struggling for many years as a mother – feeling a lot of stress and often feeling out of balance, and I wanted to build a place where mothers could come together and strengthen each other around the things that matter most.

We are grateful that Power of Moms has grown to include more than 100,000 members in our community over the past 9 years, and about 7 months ago (July 2015), my husband and I launched a complementary community called LearnDoBecome, which is for individuals, couples, and families who are striving to architect lives of excellence.

What was the biggest challenge (child-related or otherwise) you faced while starting your business?

Dr. Shannon Davis, founder of Inspiration Physical Therapy and the Little Balance Box™: The biggest challenge I faced with bringing my product to market was manufacturing the screws for the Little Balance Box™. Unsurprisingly, children’s products carry additional safety precautions and insurance requirements, and I wanted to make sure I was providing a solid, safe product to a wide market.  My area of expertise is therapy, not the intricacies of manufacturing. Yes, I had a great idea that worked, but finding the right screws, one to be used on bamboo and one to be used on the nylon feet, was almost impossible!  Since I was safety testing for US, Canadian and European markets, there are very strict heavy metal standards.  I submitted various screws for testing over a period of months, which I soon discovered was not a quick process.  One would pass in the US then fail in Europe.  So the process would have to start all over again.  The next one would pass in Europe and fail in the US.  This happened back and forth a few times (and very expensive) before I finally got it right and passed everything!  It can seem overwhelming to take on a project outside your area of expertise, but good old-fashioned trial and error helped me overcome this obstacle.

April: Earlier this year, I remember looking at my husband just as our children were going back to school after being on a three-week break, and we were (kind of) laughing because we were trying to complete some pretty substantial projects in the middle of a ton of activity. Running a business from home with four active children definitely requires a lot of patience and creativity! While each day brings new challenges and opportunities, we’ve gotten into a fairly good routine

Did it grow easier to balance entrepreneurship with family as your business grew, or did the growth make things harder to juggle?

Flesché Hesch, the “business advisor for moms”: It actually became easier for me to manage my family as my business grew because I was so focused on being a mom first. I literally created my business to be flexible for me to be available for my children and still serve my business coaching clients at my highest level.

Heather Ryan, former NCIS Special Agent and founder of Safe in the City, Get Safe Academy: As I’ve started the second company and [initiated] a product launch, balance has definitely become more challenging.  I tend to go into overdrive with work.  I’ve had to recognize that about myself and consciously make a decision to step away from my desk when my kiddos are home.  The difference now is that I have a much different perspective.  I am my own boss.  If my kids are having a school party, I’m there.  I don’t have to justify it to anyone and I know that if I don’t get something done during the day, I can tackle the project after they go to bed.

Nicole: After starting Agriprocity, my husband was inspired to also leave his corporate job. Having two entrepreneurs in the family is challenging, but now we have the freedom to spend time as a family when we can squeeze it in. Sometimes we work weekends, but then can take a Monday morning and spend it together. It’s much easier to balance everything when all parties have flexibility and freedom. Every summer we take our family on the road and work remotely from a part of the world that we would like to experience.

How many hours per week do you spend on your business? When do you tend to do a majority of your work?

Rachel: It changes all the time. Some weeks are 20 hours and others are 40+ hours.  But really, I prioritize on an annual basis.  From January-June, I put in the most effort into my business, and then July and August is mostly spent with family and friends and thinking about what is next in my business.  September [through] December is back to work and [constructing] goals for the following year.  During my months “off,” I am still working, but I automate my business, social media and programs as much as possible and rely on a virtual assistant to help with the day-to-day.

I work when my girls are in school . . . and for an hour at night to catch up, and sometimes weekends. When they were babies, I worked at nap time and in the middle of the night a lot . . . mostly because once I’m up at night, I can’t fall back asleep quickly.

April: I would say a typical week involves about 30 hours per week for me. My children are 8, 12, 13, and 16, so they are in school for about 6 hours a day. I focus my work while they are at school, and then sometimes I’ll sit by them while they’re doing their homework, and I’ll do a few things of my own that need to get done.  We also try to involve our children in our work as much as possible: our 8-year-old is learning to edit podcasts, and our 16-year-old is creating a program of her own. In the evenings after they go to bed, I usually finish up a few emails and prepare my list for the next day.

Do you think your status as a working mother has helped or hindered the marketing process?

Heather: It has absolutely lent credibility to the marketing process, given that our market is parents! The parents I talk to appreciate the fact that I’m a mom just like them, but with a unique set of experiences and knowledge in my background. I understand and can relate to their fears and challenges.  I also work with universities and sororities.  The college kids appreciate my perspective because I’m an example of how you can have a rewarding career and have a family at the same time, without having to choose one or the other.

How do you deflect guilt about focusing on your business and family instead of family alone? How do you incorporate self-care into your daily or weekly regimens?

Flesché: I don’t experience guilt as a working mother. My friends and family know that when I launched my business, I became a happier and more engaged mom because being an entrepreneur is part of how I express my creativity. If anything, I find that people make comments like, “You are so lucky to have such a great schedule and so much time to travel and enjoy your family.”

Shannon: I have been fortunate in that I have not received many questions [or] statements from others regarding my choices to be a working mom.  I feel that a lot of this has to do with how I present myself.  I am confident in my ability to balance work and family.  When I speak to others about my life, I think they can see that it can be done.  I also speak of how supportive and helpful my husband is.  Even if I have to spend less time with my kids, my husband is there to help out!  In general, people usually end up asking me how I manage it all and congratulate me on my success and accomplishments.

Rachel: When my girls were babies through pre-school, I didn’t make time for myself because I felt like I didn’t have a minute to spare. I ended up feeling depleted in all areas of my life.  In the last few years, I have made myself a priority and it has benefitted everyone in my family and me.

In 2013, I wrote down “Year of Rachel” on my New Year’s intention and announced it at a friend’s get-together. The moms all laughed and the dads looked scared. I know now that valuing my role and myself as much as I value and take care of other family members is a necessity or I’ll end up burnt out and that doesn’t serve anyone well.

Now, my husband and I divide weekend responsibilities. One morning, I go for a long run, and the other morning he will go surfing.  It makes us both happier people and our kids are excited to play with each other and watch TV and not go anywhere.

I mix business with self-care.  My friends and I will meet during the week and go for a hike and talk through business challenges or wins.  Wherever I can create a twofer, I do. Instead of meeting for coffee with potential clients, I ask if they want to go for a walk and most of the time, they prefer it. I meditate almost every day, even if it is just 10 minutes to clear my head before bed.

What tips do you have for moms who are considering starting their own businesses?

Sarah: The best advice I have is get started. There is no “good time” to get things moving. Have a mentor or a group of mentors is always helpful . . . . There is so much to learn and having a strong group of mentors around you is important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Flesché: Treat yourself like a successful CEO in your business, not like an employee. Successful CEOs focus on leading with their strengths, build out and leverage the use a team and provide leadership for reaching big picture goals.

Kalika: Define your idea of success. Embrace your mistakes and learn from them. Optimize your productivity and defend your family time. Read.

Meet the Mompreneurs:

 Rachel Olsen

 Websites: Rachel Olsen and Best Mom Products

 Facebook

 Instagram

 Pinterest

 

 

 

Special Agent Heather Ryan 

Websites: Safe in the City and Get Safe Academy 

Facebook 

Pinterest 

 

 

 

 Sarah Jagger

 Website

 Facebook

 Instagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flesché Hesch 

Website 

Facebook 

Instagram 

Pinterest 

 

 

 

 Nicole Rogers

 Website

 Facebook

 

 

 

 

Kalika Yap with her husband and two daughters. 

Websites: Luxe Link, The Waxing Co., Citrus Studios, The Tangerine Co.,  Lemonade Stand 

Facebook 

Instagram 

Pinterest 

 

 

 

 

 

  Dr. Shannon Davis PT, DPT with her husband and two daughters.

 Websites: Little Balance Box and Inspiration Physical Therapy

 Facebook

 Instagram

 Pinterest

 

 

 

 

2230a01f-1f07-4f66-8386-c07a39068722

April Perry with her husband and four children. 

Websites: Learn.Do.Become and Power of Moms 

Facebook 

Instagram 

Pinterest 

 

 

 

 

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Adam Toren

About Adam Toren

Adam Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur, and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Matthew. Adam is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.