Guest

Seven Reasons Moms Rock as Entrepreneurs

By: Guest | May 12, 2011 | 
98

Erica Allison is a mom, wife, and entrepreneur/owner of Allison Development Group: Strategic public relations and marketing firm in Western, N.C.

Many of you know by now that I’m a mom.

I also consider myself to be an entrepreneur.

I jumped into running my own business four years ago, with a brief interruption to have baby #2, then got back in the saddle this past June 2010.

I used to think being a mom and having your own business was “the life.” That was when I had the one. Add in #2 and it’s flipping hard. Really hard.

Please don’t misunderstand. I love being a mom. I also love having my own business and even if I tried, could not deny my entrepreneurial spirit. Therefore, I am both.

What most people don’t know or understand, is how to interact with us, how to evaluate us and if we should be treated differently. I’ve read the usual articles over the years about women and glass ceilings, some edging close to saying that if that woman has a baby or two, the ceiling is pretty much lowered by a couple of floors and we’re out for the count. I’ve ignored them for the most part, not fully understanding what the ramifications of that thought process are for me until I began to ‘feel’ it on a real level.

Before now, when faced with that sort of perception I either walked around it or went in another direction. I was playing to my strong suits. Translation: I’ll go where the perception isn’t so black and white or my children are not viewed as handicaps holding me back from ‘true success.’ However, if I’m to move my business from where it is now (solo with a part-time contract employee) to where I want it to be, I have to challenge the perception that moms can’t be entrepreneurs. Squarely in the face. No walking around it, no going in another direction.

When I read a Gin and Topics post featuring a venture capitalist with doubts about funding a start-up run by a pregnant woman, I realized there’s no better time than the present.

What Paige Craig wants to know is not how we, as women in this role, should behave, but rather how men should treat this situation of moms as entrepreneurs. I would like to point out that he said ‘men’ instead of ‘investors’ in that sentence. Because women without children make assumptions about women with children who choose to start a business, my answers and perspective applies to both.

  1. Don’t count us out: For starters, don’t count us out. Just because we have kids doesn’t mean we don’t want to be successful or that we don’t know what it’s like to work hard. We do. And we will. Here’s the cold hard truth: We have something to prove and we’re going to work twice as hard to make darn sure we do.
  2. We’re in it for the long haul: Raising kids doesn’t happen in a five year period. Successful, SUSTAINABLE, businesses don’t either. They take time. We are committed. We have stamina. We have determination. Does that mean a quick ROI? There’s no guarantee with any start up with regards to your ROI. Working with a mom-owned start-up may mean a different sort of ROI for an investor. Just like the stock market and its many options, there are short-term and long-term benefits. Consider matching your risk level and rate of return to the investment.
  3. We assemble AWESOME teams: Most of us have help. There’s no way to do all of this without it. There’s someone really special taking care of our kids. You can bet on it. Make no mistake that it bothers us to our core. However, that is our problem and our issue to deal with. If you think the question you’re about to ask us about childcare or our children is the same one you would ask our male counterpart with kids, then ask it. If it’s not, consider keeping it to yourself. Better yet, start asking our male counterparts. They may be the ones handling childcare arrangements – you never know!
  4. We’re efficient with our time: Because we miss our kids and can’t wait to get back to them, we are VERY efficient with our time. Sure, we can multi-task, but we can also prioritize and make sure the MOST IMPORTANT tasks are addressed before we head out. That also applies when we have to go home to be with a sick child. We’ll figure out a way to make things happen and keep the wheels turning. Remember, we have a team.
  5. We all have extracurricular activities: Just like you, we have something we want to do after work. The difference is that our ‘something’ is usually our children and yours may be your workout. Careful there. That’s a BIG assumption. Our after work activity could also be a workout, you never know.
  6. Assumptions: Don’t make assumptions about our schedules or how our children affect them. We’ll make sure our clients’ needs are met and our schedule will be what works best for us and our family. That will very likely not be a typical 8-5 day. It may be an 8-3 day with a two hour break and then another few hours later in the day and into the evening.
  7. Being a mother enhances our experience as an entrepreneur: Having our very unique experience as a mom – whether it’s to one or four kids – is yet another life layer that enhances our business acumen and our problem solving abilities. We are given little opportunities daily to problem solve and inspire action. That translates well in the business world.

So, treat us as you would any other start-up, but know that we have an additional skill set and that we take our jobs very seriously. You can also be certain that before we made the decision to ‘do this’ we evaluated and addressed all the scenarios we could think of to make ‘it a go’. Just ask us. We’ll tell you.

Erica Allison is a mom, wife, and entrepreneur/owner of Allison Development Group: Strategic public relations and marketing firm in Western, N.C. Check out her blog.

Spin Sucks in Your Inbox

Leave a Reply

98 Comments on "Seven Reasons Moms Rock as Entrepreneurs"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest
MummyinProvence
MummyinProvence
4 years 11 months ago

Wow what a great post! I found myself nodding the whole way through. Why do people suddenly think because you are a mother that you relinquished your brain, your experience and your capabilities? (Mommy brain can occur but personally that makes me work harder!) We are still the same person who happens to have a child. We are not defined by our children and we can certainly do it all! Perhaps the assumptions drive us further and push us harder to prove them wrong!

An inspirational post ericamallison !

rdempsey
4 years 11 months ago
Fantastic post Erica! I read the article by Paige Craig before and am still confounded that these biases exist. But perhaps I live in my own little world. My mother was a real estate agent when I was growing up. She pursued that career when we were a bit older, and my sister could take care of me, but regardless she was a working mother. My Dad worked full-time for the Justice Department then. My wife was a real estate agent too, and while she left that to have our daughter, she began teaching Thai cooking a year ago, while… Read more »
johnfalchetto
4 years 11 months ago
Awesome post Erica! Obviously I’m not a mother but I’m a dad and I can say a big yes to all the points listed above. Sure I don’t spend as much time as Ameena with the little but it does change the way we approach our business and our life. My biggest one is We learn to be efficient with our time- Yes because now when we waste time, it’s time we don’t get to spend with the little one. While a project or proposal can wait for a few hours, a screaming baby doesn’t wait and when it’s time… Read more »
EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago
@MummyinProvence Wow, Ameena, thank you! I’m glad that it was inspiring. I had it in me for quite some time now and when that post appeared from Paige Craig I felt it was time to ‘let it out’. It’s almost like we’re newly relegated to the back of the line and have to start all over again. I feel much more empowered now than I ever did prior to babies. Once you handle unbelievable mishaps with your kids, the stuff that happens with the ‘big kids’ you work with is a cake walk! I love “Why do people suddenly think… Read more »
EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago
@rdempsey Unfortunately, those biases do still exist. I was in a meeting with my SCORE advisors early in my business planning process. They asked about my childcare situation, whether or not my husband worked and when I said, yes he does, their response was, “oh, then you don’t have to have this business.” I was dumbfounded. Yes, I do. We’re not independently wealthy and working is part of the equation. Working for someone else? Difficult for me, I must admit, thus my entrepreneur path. I appreciate your stories and thank you for sharing them. Yes, you do have 2 very… Read more »
bdorman264
bdorman264
4 years 11 months ago

I’m being pulled in so many directions; I will have to come back but I did want to say hello. If @johnfalchetto says it’s awesome; I can’t wait to come back and dig in. So good to see you.

EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago

@johnfalchetto thank you! I appreciate your perspective on this because you are part of the team that keeps your baby going and Ameena’s business going. Without you and without my husband, Ameena and I would both be faced with another set of challenges. So thank you for that!

And yes, we are more efficient with out time, aren’t we? Babies and kids will do that to you! :)

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg
4 years 11 months ago
Hey Erica! Congrats on your awesome guest spot here ginidietrich ‘s place! I just have to say you nailed this post!!!! I have to tell you that I see a double standard in how I am treated and how my husband is treated! We have had vendors/clients in the past who would ignore me, but jump for my husband! And as for #6….child care does affect my husband! Having 3 kids, I cant manage it all, he is frequently called away for activities or sick kids, etc, but yet he has NEVER been asked about it, however I have!! Glass… Read more »
EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago
@sydcon_mktg Thanks, Jennifer! I am very grateful to ginidietrich for letting me do it! As I said to @MummyinProvence , it’s something I’ve had in the queue for a while now, re-writing it along the way, until the timing was right. That post did it. My husband chips in with the child care as well. There are many times where either a meeting runs late and I just can’t make it to pick up one of the kids; he’s there to help me and make it all work. Thank goodness! But you’re right, if he’s asked about the childcare, it’s… Read more »
T60Productions
4 years 11 months ago

Very nice Erica… sending this to my wife/mom-to-be right now. Baby’s due in four weeks! :-)

–Tony Gnau

punchakpr
punchakpr
4 years 11 months ago

This post made me want to stand up and cheer for you! I honestly have no idea how Mom-preneurs do it all, but they’re always so nice to work with!

I was surprised by your comment that “women without children make assumptions about women with children who choose to start a business”. In your experience do they make the same assumptions as men? Or are they different in any way?

MummyinProvence
MummyinProvence
4 years 11 months ago
@EricaAllison I remember when I first graduated and was looking for a job in Dubai that I was actually told they wouldn’t hire me because I was likely to get married and get pregnant …? I was 23 and hungry to start my marketing career. I was mortified. Only can such open discrimination exist in a country without any discrimination laws! I got married shortly after starting my own freelance business and chose to keep my maiden name because I often called on John for help purely because I’d taken such a long time to win my clients over and… Read more »
EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago

@T60Productions Congrats, Tony! Will this be baby #1? How exciting, whatever number…they’re all different! Thanks for your kind comment and for sending it to your wife. Hope she enjoys it!

Lori
4 years 11 months ago

Erica, HI!

My husband and I were in business together from the start. I used to work while the first baby napped, and later until she had played with every toy around her. My husband spent a lot of time with our two kids – something we would never trade for anything. Only years later when we look at the old footage on videotape did I realize how much he played with them (filming them doing every little thing!).

Don’t ask for permission – just do it. As you are doing it. Best of both worlds- Kudos to you!

Lori

EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago
@punchakpr Thank you, Whitney! No cheering needed, just understanding and it sounds like you do! Yes, women do make similar assumptions. I have friends in high level positions in more traditional business environments (finance and banking) that chose not to have children in large part because of their careers. Kudos to them. I have no problem with that whatsoever. I think what happens sometimes is that these same women begin to assimilate so much into the dominant culture in which they work (i.e., male) and want so much to ascend the ladder that they’ll use whatever competitive advantage they have.… Read more »
EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago

@Lori Thanks, Lori. My husband and I don’t work together, but he does thankfully spend quite a bit of time with the kids. He’s quite good at it actually. We both seem to have the best of both worlds!

EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago

@MummyinProvence I totally get what you’re saying. Don’t think such statements can be made in Dubai. I had something eerily similar said to me when I was around 22 and working in a non-profit….”pretty thing like you, why do you want to work here…you’ll be getting married soon and having babies.” I KID. YOU. NOT.

And you’re right about when to mention the babe and when not to; I pick and choose my clients that get the full monty about my family. Some are very understanding and find it endearing; for others, not so much.

T60Productions
4 years 11 months ago

@EricaAllison It’s our first… a little girl. Our world… ready to be rocked! :-)

EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago

@T60Productions Yes it is!!! Hang on for the ride!

punchakpr
punchakpr
4 years 11 months ago

@EricaAllison I guess most women will be faced with this cross road at one point or another. It would be nice though if people were more accepting of both alternatives. But I guess that’s another topic for another time. :)

punchakpr
punchakpr
4 years 11 months ago

@EricaAllison @MummyinProvence I *may* have good news. I’m 23 now and have NEVER been asked by or have had a potential employer bring up my personal situation or plans. Maybe I’ve been lucky or maybe people still make assumptions, but keep them to themselves. But maybe, just maybe, it’s a sign of progress. :)

BTW, how did you respond to those kinds of comments?

MimiMeredith
4 years 11 months ago

Amen! Amen!

bdorman264
bdorman264
4 years 11 months ago

@johnfalchetto I thought I heard someone call you a mother……..or maybe someone called @HowieSPM that……….It comes down to what your drive and motivation is; it can certainly be done you just need to be able to handle emergencies in flight and plan your time efficiently.

bdorman264
bdorman264
4 years 11 months ago
Hola, long time no see; crazy, crazy week indeed. Personally I think it comes down to motivation, dedication and determination. Corporate is too quick to put everybody in this box and expect them to act a certain way. With flexibility anything can be accomplished so there should be no barriers regardless of gender, marital status, color of skin, etc. If it is your own business, you better believe you will be ‘all in’ and probably a better investment than some. Granted some of these decisions by bankers, etc has some type of track record to go by; but if you… Read more »
EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago
@punchakpr @MummyinProvence Whitney, I think things likely have evolved, but there are still long held biases that creep out from time to time. I’m glad you’ve never been asked those questions. I hope you’re not, but if you are, you could do as I did and remind them that those aren’t really relevant questions, laugh it off, or ask them when they might be expecting to grow their family. It all depends on how badly you want that job, position, experience. In my opinion, if you’re going to work with the person asking that question, then it’s just not worth… Read more »
MummyinProvence
MummyinProvence
4 years 11 months ago
@punchakpr @EricaAllison I also hope no one asks you such personal and irrelevant questions! I actually walked out of an interview because that question was the final straw and I realised the job was not what I wanted anyway. I’ve never been very good at keeping my mouth shut which is probably why I work for myself! I was a terrible employee and questions regarding my belly and marital status were like a red flag! I was once interviewed by a woman who was heavily pregnant who told me that I was perfect for the job provided I was willing… Read more »
rouba
rouba
4 years 11 months ago

Very encouraging post… Loved it! I just had a baby a week ago and am already online again getting back into my freelance work… I believe women have been underestimated for so long however; thanks to globalization and the internet – our capabilities and work now speak for themselves!! God speed ladies :)

Griddy
4 years 11 months ago
Hey Erica, Although I’m not a mom, all I wanted to do was clap for you at the end of this fantastic post :-)! Thank you for defending the honor of working women with families – for if anything – they work twice as hard as many! The moms I know that work can juggle and multi-task unbelievably well – it actually still boggles me how they manage for I’m even behind them in that sense. But it seems they know how to organize their priorities and get things done in an efficient manner. Thanks for sharing this and a… Read more »
EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago
@Griddy Thank you! That means so much, especially if it resonates with folks who are not *exactly* in my situation, but can nod their head or think that if they do pursue motherhood at some point, they will still have a career if they want it. There’s another side to this equation and that’s the mom’s who had a career but no longer do in order to pursue motherhood with abandon. I admire these ladies as well and would bet they get misunderstood quite often for all the wrong reasons. I’m have no doubt that if and when you pursue… Read more »
EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago

@rouba Wow, talk about ‘up and at ’em’! I did that as well with my first; there’s quite a bit of adrenaline running through you right after that baby comes along. I wish you and your family all the best! Enjoy that baby!

Shonali
4 years 11 months ago
@EricaAllison Someone at SCORE said that to you? Wow, that’s unbelievable. I’m wondering if I should let the folks at SCORE HQ know, I can’t imagine they would approve of that. Not to get your advisor(s) in trouble, but maybe this is an area of education they need to focus on with their counselors. I know they’re volunteers, but still… Someone who might be very interesting for you to talk to is jmpineda . She knows what it’s like to build up not one, but two businesses, as a mom (she recently had her second child too). She’s part of… Read more »
EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago

@bdorman264 Oh, Bill. You’re always in, aren’t you?

You bring up an excellent point however and that’s the corporate environment and the world they must function in. However, I would suggest for anyone contemplating working with, investing in, or hiring a mompreneur they give her the freedom to determine the schedule that will deliver the results. That one bit of flexibility will astound everyone.

EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago
@Shonali Yes, at SCORE. I think you must consider the context here and that’s a very conservative, older population of folks (mostly men) who worked in one, maybe 2 corporate environments their entire life. I pick and choose my ‘grains of salt’ to focus on with them and value some of the questions that they ask, but to honest, I’m pursuing other counselors. My first clue was when I walked in the doors and they approached me to be an advisor to them on marketing and social media. Ha! Wait a minute, fellas, I came to YOU. Give me a… Read more »
rouba
rouba
4 years 11 months ago

@EricaAllison Thanks Erica! there is adrenaline alright… it stems from the need for ongoing income ahahhah but seriously it is very possible… we have more energy than one would expect… thank you for the kind wishes and looking forward to reading your next post!

adamtoporek
adamtoporek
4 years 11 months ago
Erica, This was a really excellent post, and I think it is important for people on the other side of the gender gap to hear these stories once in awhile. There is a tendency to think these things are behind us as a society. I’m actually a bit surprised that you’ve encountered this much glass ceiling as an independent business owner. Not that it’s permissible in any context, but when you hire a business, why would anyone care about anything other than results? What does it matter if you get the work done at 3am or 3pm, as long as… Read more »
bdorman264
bdorman264
4 years 11 months ago

I think if you can provide the flexibility then the mompreneur will have even more buy-in and appreciation and results (productivity) will be much better than being placed in a rigid environment.

bdorman264
bdorman264
4 years 11 months ago

@adamtoporek North Carolina; they are pretty liberal right? Some regions are better than others, but the good ‘ol boy network is still in place. And most of it is not intentional, it’s just we have a tendency to hang around w/ like minded people. If you are sitting in the board room and everyone is middle class white guys, it’s probably because they are all your friends. Sometimes it’s hard to break this cycle.

Shonali
4 years 11 months ago
@EricaAllison LOL, I get the pro bono thing all the time as well. Gah! #wgbiz is the hashtag we developed around Women Grow Business (@wgbiz on Twitter), which is a blog community for women entrepreneurs. It’s hosted by Network Solutions (my client), and I’ve been the editor for almost a year and a half now. I love it – I get to read and edit the great posts from a range of women entrepreneurs, and we’ve tried to connect offline as well – some have become very good friends and mentors too. Speaking of guest posts, that’s another place I’d… Read more »
bdorman264
bdorman264
4 years 11 months ago

@EricaAllison @Griddy BTW Erica, I thought you told me you WERE independtly wealthy. Let me send my agent over; I’m getting paid a penny a word for my comments. Everybody thinks I’m this cool, hip, caring kind of guy but really I’m a 76 yr old curmudgeon w/ a rent-a-Avatar that’s pulling comments off dead, abandoned blogs……..

bdorman264
bdorman264
4 years 11 months ago

@Shonali @EricaAllison@wgbiz They wanted me to guest post but I had to draw the line at shaving my legs….just sayin’…..but I would have done it pro bono……….

redpage75
redpage75
4 years 11 months ago

You tell them, sister. I’m playing with the idea of starting my own (very small) biz, and I intend to live by every one of those principles!

EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago

@redpage75 Awesome! What is it? I can’t wait to hear! I’ll bet once you do, you’ll have your own set of principles to live by…. Thank you for commenting!

TheJackB
TheJackB
4 years 11 months ago

I have never understood why some people view families as an impediment to work as opposed to something that provides stability and incentive. You did a nice job of slighting so many of the reasons why parents should be considered assets to businesses.

EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago
@adamtoporek I think the geographic location (i.e., the South) plays a huge role in this perception. As @bdorman264 points out, there are a lot of middle class white guys floating around here and just as many stay at home moms. When someone walks in that isn’t one of those 2 things, it creates more than just a little mystery and intrigue. Unfortunately, I have encountered this as an independent business owner…questions that may seem really sincere actually set up an expectation that I’m ‘limited’. For example, client asks: “Can we talk at 3:30 tomorrow…or will you be with your kids?”.… Read more »
EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago

@TheJackB Thanks, Jack! I know you get it and I appreciate the comment!

EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago

@bdorman264 EXACTLY!

TonyH
4 years 11 months ago

As the man who (very bravely) wrote an article concluding that you ladies Tweet better than the men I had identified that there a load of ‘Mom Entrepreneurs’ out there promoting their entrepreneurial skills on Twitter.

Well done for articulating so well the reasons why ‘Moms’ (and by extension stay at home Dads) should be taken more seriously in the business world. To my mind people should all be given the opportunity to make something of themselves whatever the circumstances may be in their personal lives.

Many thanks for your thoughtful article Erica.

amvandenhurk
amvandenhurk
4 years 11 months ago

Erica – thanks for your post. I’m finding that there is a disconnect as to how businesses interact with female entrepreneurs who just happen to be moms.

PS – we should connect I’m at the other end of the state… Eastern NC…

EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago

@TonyH you are SO right, this does extend to stay at home Dads. Of course I speak from my perspective as the mom in the business role, but I’m glad the lessons apply across genders!

You hit the nail on the head with this sentence: “To my mind people should all be given the opportunity to make something of themselves whatever the circumstances may be in their personal lives.” If we all embraced that, think of the intellectual power and business strength we’d all see and feel!

EricaAllison
4 years 11 months ago
@amvandenhurk Ann Marie, how in the world did you end up in Tarrboro!!!???? I’m from Lumberton, NC and so familiar with the tobacco fields that surround you. Wow. Would love to connect. Just a quick look at your website tells me you’ve got quite the story. But to your comment, I must say, thank you and you’re welcome. Yes, there is a disconnect and I’m wondering if it’s a generational thing? In other words, the businesses and clients that have the hardest time with the mom/entrepreneur equation or those of a certain age who perhaps didn’t do it this way,… Read more »
wpDiscuz
[postmatic_subscribe_widget]