Seven Reasons Moms Rock as Entrepreneurs

By: Guest | May 12, 2011 | 

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.

  • MummyinProvence

    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 !

  • 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 our daughter was 2 years old.

    Are these direct parallels to being an entrepreneur with a newborn? No. However these are two shining examples of women in my life that had kids and pursued careers. I turned out fine, and so is our daughter. What really gets me riled is #6 – the assumptions that others have of working mothers, or working parents for that matter. I work throughout the day with my daughter ever present (she really hated school taught all in Thai – but that’s another matter). I can get a ton done, and take breaks at will to spend time with her. I’m writing this comment at 12:45 AM. My wife also takes care of her at different points of the day, while learning more about cooking to bring back to NY when we return. For us it’s a team effort.

    What it comes down to for me is can the person I’m working with deliver results – bottom line. If the proper expectations are in place (working hours, deliverables, etc) and things are happening, what business is it of mine what is going on in the personal lives of the folks I’m working with?!

    I have no doubt that you deliver results for your clients, and won’t stop. As you say, you aren’t in it alone, and you know when to bring in extra help.

    Thanks for considering my $.02 on this, and thanks again for a great post.

  • 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 for me to look after her, I have to be there.

    Thanks for this post Erica and sharing a bit more about you (first the daughter with the video and now the mom) 🙂

  • @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 because you are a mother that you relinquished your brain, your experience and your capabilities?” So true, but so inaccurate! I so appreciate the comments you’ve left here, Ameena and look forward to swapping more stories in our future!

  • @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 inspirational women in your life that have given you a wonderful view into making it all work out! I’m glad to hear and I know with my own son, he also sees that example and will hopefully have your same level of appreciation when he’s faced with a similar scenario. Thanks again, Robert!

  • bdorman264

    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.

  • @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

    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 ceiling be damned, we can do it! It reminds me of what my mother-in-law likes to say, “If men had the children, no family would have multiple kids, because the men couldnt handle it!” We are strong and can take what you throw at us, just try us!

  • @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 more in a curiosity sort of way re: his crazy wife who has her own business…”wow, what does she do for childcare?”

    Thanks again for the support and the kind words…much appreciated!

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

    –Tony Gnau

  • punchakpr

    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

    @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 being married + my empty womb was enough to write me off.

    A few years later after I moved to France, I announced my pregnancy, the last client I brought with me on our move decided to move his marketing in house because he felt it was “too much for me to deal with” … ok. Needless to say it prompted me to move my efforts to something local and stop working the past with clients who had archaic views on women in business!

    I still find it helps to omit the rug rats from any conversations with clients though!

  • @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!

  • 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!


  • @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. Sometimes, that is the ability to go out for drinks after work, work insane hours, keep up with their male cohorts, etc. After a while, there’s the realization that the mom with kids can’t do that and so begins the ‘compare and contrast’ scenario.

  • @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!

  • @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.

  • @EricaAllison It’s our first… a little girl. Our world… ready to be rocked! 🙂

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

  • punchakpr

    @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

    @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?

  • Amen! Amen!

  • bdorman264

    @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

    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 want something bad enough and have the abilities most find a way of making it happen.

    I’m all in; I would invest in you………..

  • @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 it.

  • MummyinProvence

    @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 to remain single and obviously childless for 5 years or I’d lose my job!!! I asked her what relevancy that had for a Marketing Coordinator, told her to hire a man and left.

    I thought this kind of thing only happened in the Middle East. It’s shocking!

  • rouba

    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 🙂

  • 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 part of your life with us Erica and for telling it like it is to the non-believers and those that still have these biases. It’s actually encouraging for us who don’t yet have kids to know that things will get done just as well, with the same amount of passion and professionalism.

    Cheers to you, your family and what you do!

  • @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 motherhood, just as you have with the blogging and ‘social’ world, you’ll rock it like no one else can Thank you, Griddy for stopping by!

  • @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!

  • @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 the #wgbiz crew and absolutely fabulous.

  • @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.

  • @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 little help here. That’s certainly flattering, but I’m all up to my eyeballs in pro bono!

    I’d love to connect with jmpineda – what’s #wgbiz?

  • rouba

    @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

    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 you deliver a quality product on deadline? It’s just foolishness.

    I have a somewhat unique perspective on your situation because of our geographic backgrounds. While I understand that this happens many places, how much do you think the area of the country you work in has affected your experience in this area?

  • bdorman264

    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

    @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.

  • @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 love you to GP anytime you feel like it.

  • bdorman264

    @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

    @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

    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!

  • @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

    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.

  • @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?”. While that’s very sweet that they ask that and acknowledge it, they’re making assumptions that I’ll not likely be able to do anything ever at that time. I’d much rather be asked the first part of that question and let me answer with a yes or no based on my schedule than have the assumptions thrown into the mix. As I type this I’m afraid it’s going to sound like I’m negative or have a chip on my shoulder! Hope it doesn’t come across that way.

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

  • @bdorman264 EXACTLY!

  • 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

    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…

  • @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!

  • @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, or their wives didn’t do it this way and therefore their frame of reference is limited. I would almost bet that by the time my son and daughter get to be of working age and into their 30s and 40s, the landscape will be quite different. The reason? Their role models (you, me, dads like @rdempsey and @johnfalchetto ) are creating entirely new ways of working and living in the world and because of that, we’re painting a very different picture for our children.

  • @Shonali Thank you! Would love to do a GP for wgbiz I just need to get the others lined up and in the queue! 🙂 Will also check them out on twitter!

  • As frustrating as it is to hear people express thoughts like Paige did, I think we need to appreciate his candor for putting out there what many people think. When people object to things, it’s not necessarily because they disagree, but rather because they don’t know or don’t understand. By him sharing his thoughts – negative & taboo as they may be – we get the opportunity to have great discussions like this about it and help to change the thinking.

    I commend you, @EricaAllison , for writing this and putting it right out there to address an issue that many people try to push under the rug and pretend, on both sides, that it’s not happening. Or address head on to those people who do express their opinions through underhanded questions, which are really trying to get to the real issue, the one Paige stated, that moms are going to fail the company. If that’s the concern, then that should be the question.

    There are many great examples included here of situations that work and that’s exactly what we need to be sharing & celebrating. I love it! I have found my own nirvana as a mom and an entrepreneur, and I have to say that so much of my success comes directly because of the business that I have and the business partner I have. kevintrokey is amazingly supportive of my wacky schedule, and I feel grateful everyday for what we’re building and how it works for our clients, for our business, and for me & my kids.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Erica!

  • bdorman264

    @wendykeneipp @EricaAllison kevintrokey Look who’s in the house? Hey Erica, Wendy & Kevin are buddies of mine; I know, don’t hold it against them but they are good peeps………….

  • ginidietrich

    Wow Erica! You killed it on this! Unfortunately the attitude of Paige is rampant…and not just for women who are expecting or have kids. I was in an investor meeting in December and they told me they’re concerned about funding us because I haven’t had kids yet and they’re certain I will. It was really disconcerting. So we’re bootstrapping Spin Sucks Pro right now…mostly because I have a serious problem with men telling me I can’t deliver because I MIGHT have kids in the next five years. Ludicrous.

  • bdorman264

    @ginidietrich And that’s ludicrous because you do have a track record and a body of work. That should count for a whole lot in my book and I don’t care if you are a martian and might be beamed up at some time.

    I know what you are talking about bootstrapped too; I told you about our project and whereas it is being funded it’s coming in dribs and drabs which can be frustrating. I talked with our IT guys and they said if we could just have X we could go ahead and finish this up and launch it.

    Personally, I’m waiting for that rich aunt or uncle to incl me in their will; the bad news is I haven’t found a Dorman yet w/ any money. Heaven forbid one of us wins the lottery…..

  • I know Im’ really late on this one – but I just wanted to say that I think so much of you moms out there. Any and every time that I get a chance to say that, I have to say it. My wife has sacrificed so much for our kids. When we graducated from college, we were gifted with a nice little baby girl surprise just a few months after. So, she’s never worked since we’ve graduated 7 years ago. And now with 3 kids, her mother power has multiplied tenfold.

    She runs our household like a business. Trust me, it’s no oldschool submissive stuff at my home… I get assigned chores just like the kids!

    I’m not a mom, but I know first hand how powerful you women are. Thank you all!

    Happy Friday!

  • @EricaAllison Yes, the other(s) (I don’t care about the plural bit so much if you get my drift, cough cough) are more important. :p

  • adamtoporek


    You know, the common thread through both your comments is how much these problems stem not from intentional malice but from habit and custom. The good news: that should mean that change can come sooner.

    And no Erica… I don’t see a chip at all!

  • @Jk Allen Thanks for coming by! Your wife has made a very honorable and admirable choice and is very likely following the path she’s supposed to be on, so my hat is off to her! I’ll bet she runs a tight ship! Good for her and great for you, Jk!

  • @ginidietrich OMG, my parents were denied a mortgage in 1960something because my mom’s salary didn’t count…because one day she might have kids. That was like 50 years ago! It is long time to move beyond that kind of thinking. We definitely need to continue these conversations!

  • @ginidietrich That is ludicrous, but it does happen. To @wendykeneipp point, I am glad people like Paige raise the issue and throw it out for public discourse. If he hadn’t, I might not have *thrust* this guest post idea on you! 🙂 Thank you so much for letting me hang out here for a day; it’s almost like being there with you in Chicago, but you’re not there, so I guess it’s like Vegas? Esp when @bdorman264 shows up…

    Seriously, if this post had been on my blog only it would not have gotten nearly the exposure that it’s getting now and I’m so appreciative of that! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • @adamtoporek @bdorman264 Thanks, Adam! You’re right, it’s in large part due to long held traditions and perspectives here in the South…and as our kids rise up through the ranks, that should begin to change more and more.

  • @Shonali Drift received loud and clear, my dear, loud and clear! 🙂

  • @wendykeneipp So glad you stopped by! Even if you do know @bdorman264 : ) I wholeheartedly agree with you. I’m glad Paige had the guts to put it out there not just for the internal discussion, but to raise the issue so that more of us could discuss it and begin to shine a light on the taboo and the ridiculous. I’m glad you liked the post and so appreciate your thoughts shared here. I’m also glad you’ve got an understanding partner like kevintrokey to support that wacky schedule. What do you guys do?

  • @EricaAllison @bdorman264 kevintrokey Have you read Jessica’s response to Paige’s article? It’s a full article unto itself, and she puts it all out there. She is a bright, together woman who seems to really know how to run a company and has an impressive track record. She definitely seems like someone to be following!

    We’re connected to @bdorman264 ‘s paying gig, so he’s kind of like family – we’ve got him like it or not! We have a niche consulting firm focused on growth strategies for employee benefits/insurance agencies. However, much of it is directly applicable to any industry because we largely talk about business topics on our blog – part of that nirvana I referred to!

  • bdorman264

    @wendykeneipp @EricaAllison kevintrokey Give me time; I’ll grow on ya……… moss………….

  • bdorman264

    @TonyH I think that’s where I picked you up Tony; I remeber that post. I don’t know if they tweet better, but I know I like hangin’ with them better……

  • janbeery

    Well said Erica!

    As a mother of 3 now adult children, I had many many obstacles in my career. I once had a man ask me in an interview how my husband felt about me meeting the demands of travel this position required. He further questioned what type of mother I would be if I was on the road.

    I’ve been an entrepreneur for many years. I’ve multi tasked, managed teams, built winning teams, won every incentive trip there was to win, made it to my son’s football games, my daughter’s gymnastic tournaments, my youngest son’s band competitions, spoken with clients on the phone while holding a sick child, conferenced called with a CEO on Christmas day, and left a conference early when the threat of bad weather would have kept me from seeing my oldest son graduate from basic training. I’ve made it clear when I was in the corporate world that any time one of my kids called while they were deployed, I would, and did take the call even if we were in a high level board meeting.

    Why do we do it? Because we love our children and our careers. Can you have it all? Absolutely! Will it be hard at times, of course. Would I change any part of it? Not a chance.

    Oh, the man that asked me such inappropriate questions? I’ve been mentoring him for years…. He just had a severe case of my favorite diagnosis, cranial rectal inversion! 😉

  • janbeery

    @ginidietrich It infuriates me how much of this is STILL rampant! If you were a man, that question NEVER would have come up!

    We as women have to fight hard for everything we do. I’ve been part of a male dominated industry for ever, I was the only female in the board room at a company and when they dished it out, my “southside” went into action. There were times I would question, “do you really want to go down this road with me?” I blew my male counterparts out of the water every time.

    I’m part of an organization called PWH Professional Women in Health care. Our mission statement is To Empower Women to Lead and Succeed in an Industry Equally Lead by Women.” We’ve got a long way to go! We’re not stopping OR going away!

  • @janbeery I love you! Can you be one of my new mentors, please? I’ve already hijacked @ginidietrich , looks like you’re next! You, in a word, ROCK. Way to set the boundaries, determine your priorities and make it all come together really, really well. I’m honored you stopped by and commented and so appreciate it! Best, Erica

  • TheJackB

    At the risk of having rocks thrown at me I want to add that I have had some issues with maternity leave but here is the reason why. There have been a number of occasions where I was involved with projects that ended up being placed on hold because of women on maternity leave.

    I don’t see that as an indictment of women in the workplace. It is really a complaint about a lack of planning for the future. The question of who bears responsibility for covering for employees who go out on any sort of leave be it maternity, disability or vacation is one that each company has to address.

    To be clear, my issue isn’t really with men or women. It is tied into frustration at not being able to finish work because no one took the time to adjust for personnel absences.

  • @TheJackB Ha! Rocks indeed. I was wondering when we’d hear some sort of alternative opinion expressed here and I’m glad it’s you, Jack, who’s throwing something new into the mix. I would say based on my personal experience of going through it twice and not really having ‘maternity leave’ as you define it here (solo biz rarely does), I’ll say that I learned a lot the first time around that helped me create a better transition the 2nd time around.

    For most first-timers, there’s an expectation with the mom that they’ll just get right back to it! I know I did and for a couple of days, I did and then exhaustion set in and I couldn’t keep up. I was finishing up a guidebook for a state public health organization and wowza, there was a delay. Fortunately, we rallied and finished it- but I hated that feeling of letting other people down because I didn’t plan well.

    Second time, I knew that you never know how you’re going to feel or what type of baby you’ll have, so I prepped my clients months in advance and starting handing over ad calendars, schedules, etc to them and my assistant. It seemed to work much better.

    I can’ t speak to the situations that you’ve referenced here, but you’re right, for any type of leave, prep is essential so that the flow doesn’t stop. For moms, I’ll say we sometimes have difficulty admitting that we may not be able to do it all and that could lead to unrealistic expectations of what we can deliver after the ‘delivery’.

  • KDillabough

    @EricaAllison what an absolutely fabulous post! Although an empty-nester now, I remember when, 26 years ago I had my first child, and five years later, my second.

    Many thought I’d be unable to fulfill my duties travelling with our World and Olympic athletes. I happened to be the youngest President of a sport governing body at the time, where most of my peers were men over the age of 60. You can imagine the effort it took to maintain both business and personal life, caring for a newborn and making sure that I worked twice as hard to be sure that motherhood did not become their excuse for keeping me on the sidelines.

    It’s so disturbing to think that, all these years later, some things haven’t changed. Your comment @EricaAllison that we work twice as hard is sad but true: it’s like we’re starting at a deficit for the mere fact of having children. Your other points…about having stamina, commitment and determination…surrounding ourselves with good people (hiring 11’s if we’re 10’s:)…prioritizing, planning and executing…we’re dam good at all that!

    I remember a prof at university saying to our coaching class that it would be incumbent upon us to make coaching a viable, full-time profession, and that still hasn’t happened. And they said it would be a paperless society, and that hasn’t happened. Let’s hope that it doesn’t take close to 30 years for those who still have a mindset that “moms can’t be entrepreneurs” to change that mindset.

  • @KDillabough Wow, thanks, Kaarina! Your comments and your experience mean a lot! My mom was a teacher when we were young, but always worked with my dad in various ‘ventures’. Teaching was and is a female dominated profession and one in which it’s almost expected that children are part of the package. It was as we were teenagers that my parents went into business for themselves and I began to see a different impact for my mom – men preferring to talk to my dad instead of her (they are in construction) and quickly realizing that they had better deal with her if they wanted to get anywhere!

    Mom now has her GC license, alongside my dad, owns the business and keeps us all in line. I so value having women like my mom, you and countless others showing up in the comments here to provide great role models. I also SO appreciate all the men who’ve so bravely wondered into the room and given us their honest and real perspectives, especially Paige Craig, who started this whole conversation. Open dialogue like this will continue to reshape ALL of our roles in the future (moms and dads) and for that, I’m so grateful!

  • KDillabough

    @EricaAllison Your post brought back many memories, some not so pleasant, because I really didn’t have the experience and wisdom to deal with some of the “challenges” and inequities back then. But boy, did it give me a quick education!

    On the note of men preferring to talk to your dad instead of your mom: here’s a rich one.

    My husband’s a heavy construction inspector: multi-million dollar projects, tons of subs and trades to work with. When we were meeting with a supplier when we were building our house 20+ years ago, our baby in his stroller, whenever I asked a question, the guy would look at and answer my husband.

    After about 15 minutes of this, we both stood up, and we walked towards the door, baby in tow. When the fellow asked what was wrong, my husband just chuckled and used the Pretty Woman line (which we both use frequently)….BIG mistake! Whether or not he ever got it, I don’t know: but he didn’t get our business! That’s a GOOD memory. Cheers!

  • bdorman264

    @EricaAllison @janbeery @ginidietrich Alright, I see somebody getting this kind of praise I’m thinking I need to check them out; especially if they are being put on the same pedestal as Gini. I know Gini, you’re really not all that, even if you do have that Bones thing workin’ for ya, but I wanted to make you feel good for all the times you play it forward. I would take a bullet for ya, but I’m hoping some of your others fans might be a little more passionate about ya and want to jump the line………..just sayin’…

  • @TheJackB This is where my “Yes!” moment came. There you go, Jack: people who have familial responsibilities–whether mothers of children, stay-at-home dads, or even adult children taking care of ailing parents–face a similar wall, as if they wouldn’t be just that much more eager to prove themselves so they’ll be *free* to take care of their responsibilities at home without stress.

  • @EricaAllison You bring up the women who leave the workforce, and I know many who left of their own will, before the economic crunch. And a friend of mine said her own mother left an impending career as a chemical engineer *forever* when she got pregnant with said friend.

    She said this in a public forum and there were gasps and mouths dropped open. I was a little thunderstruck myself, but I understood how that could happen.

    Mothers generally want to be with our children as much as we can, but the passion to move and shake the world in a better way tends to jive with that, and two years ago I found out we’ll do what we have to do to have both happen.

  • @rouba Congratulations!

  • @EricaAllison @punchakpr I do get this at times in the office, jokes about, “Now you have the baby, you can’t afford…” When actually I’ve never been better off financially in my life, but I wouldn’t tell anyone that!

    But as a business owner, it’s interesting. I haven’t noticed much difference in the way clients treat me since before, when I think about it, but it could be because I work with most of them virtually, and the baby doesn’t come up in conversation except incidentally…

  • @EricaAllison @MummyinProvence “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!”

    Couldn’t have said it better.

  • @punchakpr After I got married my manager asked me point-blank when I thought the first kid was coming. She asked because we had a very open and honest relationship, so answered her point-blank that I wasn’t getting any younger and the two of us wanted at least one.

    But that was only because of our relationship. Anyone else who asked me that would have gotten a polite, deadpan “when you need to know, I’ll tell you.”

  • Okay, @bdorman264 said everything I was going to say already, but I’m gonna say it anyway. I’m not one of those people who blindly believes women can just jump and take on corporate America (or corporate anywhere) with one hand and family with the other.

    I believe we MUST–with a capital “M”–be able to set our own terms, be responsible for our own priorities, and be sure we’re conducting whatever combination of business and home life for the all the right reasons, or we’ll be doing the equivalent of drawing circles with both hands simultaneously: one tends to succumb to the rotational direction of the other.

  • @EricaAllison Love this post ! Especially the part about assembling great teams. That is such a key factor in growing from a single operator and it’s also one of the hardest things to do. Especially if you’re working across the cloud.

    How do you go about assembling an awesome team ?

  • janbeery

    @EricaAllison @ginidietrich haha, Erica, you’re adorable. Of course, one of my favorite things in life, supporting people who are trying to tackle life’s curve balls. If I can help you avoid a few hits along the way, I’m happy to.

  • jennwhinnem

    @jonbuscall @EricaAllison That was the one that jumped out at me too, Jon & Erica. You bet your arse they assemble great teams, because it takes a team to coordinate childcare needs. I may not do it, but I’ve seen it.

    It always makes me beam when I see women accomplishing so much. Go Erica!

  • @jennwhinnem @jonbuscall Thanks, guys! To answer your question, Jon, it takes a lot of work to assemble those teams and a lot of trial and error. If you’ve ever hired someone, you know that sometimes those first impressions aren’t always what they seem or we’re really trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole. That happens with childcare often, unfortunately.

    We were blessed when a wonderful lady came into our lives when my son was still in utero. We met and fell in love and she was with us for 7 years, surviving lung cancer, only to succumb to a massive stroke less than a year ago. It rocked us. We had become so dependent on and in love with this lady that we knew no other way to be. We’ve managed to assemble a new team of 2, one much younger and ‘nimble ‘for my active kids and one that almost fills the hole left in our hearts by our sweet Ida – older, nurturing, etc. I realized my kids needed that nurturing side just as much, if not more, than the active, go to the park side that we have with our younger sitter. Because I’m not around as much as I’d like, they miss the nurturing.

    The other part of my team are the professionals that enable me to be in both worlds: awesome subcontractors and an office assistant who keeps me on track and fills in the missing pieces of work that I can’t do (can we say code? websites?). I go with my gut, but I also watch how my clients interact with these folks and if there’s not a connection, then we’re not continuing.

    Sorry for such a long response, but it is what it is! Thanks to you both for your comments!

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  • @ShakirahDawud I love what you said about “drawing circles with both hands simultaneously: one tends to succumb to the rotational direction of the other.” I feel like that sometimes and man, is it frustrating! I have no doubt, Shakirah, that you are in control of your day, your life, your family and your work. Kudos to you!

  • @EricaAllison , I love this post.

    As I blogged about (and you and I have talked about), not only do moms rock as entrepreneurs for themselves, their clients, and their colleagues; but they are also an incredible example to their children. As the daughters of two pretty amazing and entrepreneurial woman, you and I both know this first-hand.

    I’m going to start filing all of these conversations and great blog posts for when I have children, and I’m faced with these same questions.

  • @KatieFassl Thanks, Katie! We are fortunate, aren’t we? I really do think about my actions today and how they affect my daughter’s view (as well as my son’s) of the world and how they will act and behave in it. Much like @ginidietrich ‘s post today on whisper ethics, I hope I’m teaching them responsible behavior and how to do the right thing, even when no one is around or watching. Those are also the motivators for what makes me be the best entrepreneur I can be!

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  • Mom’s really have to do it all, so I’m not surprised that they’d have the stuff it takes for entrepreneurial success. If you think juggling several clients is difficult, well, I can’t imagine juggling several dependents, either on top of work or even as a separate entity. Running a family is really a lot like running a business (from what I understand, being currently childless) – there’s a budget to manage, a “staff” to keep happy and productive, and goals to meet in order to move forward as a unit.

    Rock on, moms! I’ll gladly listen at your knee for all business wisdom you have to impart.

  • Emma, that’s so nice of you to not only read the post and share it, but leave a great comment like this! I appreciate the support and while I don’t like to subscribe to the Super Mom school of thought, it is a bit like running a business. What I find to be true in this scenario, just like in business, is that everyone has a different style. I just want the business world to recognize that just because I might be a mom, does not mean that I can’t be a smart business woman.

    Same applies to running the family: I’m more the run my family like a business type, but I know plenty of others who run it more like a “club”…to each his or her own, right? @EmmaofCEM

  • Erica,

    So glad you’ve shared your experiences with us. It’s good to keep this open and support other people in the same position.

    Here’s a little support from my two cents. I have raised 3 kids as you know. @Katie Gutwein is my middle daughter between her brothers. All are independent, strong individuals that contribute greatly to our society including but not limited to serving our country.

    They had jobs at home to earn money when they were little, the Master Calendar in my office to add their activities as they got older, did their own laundry upon 8th grade graduation and were well prepared for life after high school.

    I’ve lead board room meetings with top level executives and have stepped out of my presentations to except calls several times from my son’s while they were serving in war zones. I’ve also made last minute flights from a business trip to meet my son prior to an emergency deployment. Just to have an hour in the Atlanta airport with him and hug him one last time before he left.

    I’ve had to make emergency calls from business trips out of the country to Katie when she was in college and panicked with an abscessed tooth. Why, because it’s my pleasure, my honor, my joy.

    All the while, I’ve multitasked, worked harder, won awards, lead winning teams in business, and raised great kids to become amazing adults.

    Is it fair to discriminate against working Moms? Not at all! The glass ceiling is real and makes my blood boil. When I have anyone question my abilities based on my gender and position as a parent, I will, guaranteed, at this stage of my life, choose to do business elsewhere. THAT is the wonderful choice of being an entrepreneur!

    I wouldn’t change my journey at all. I’ve enjoyed every aspect of parenthood even when I was removing privileges from one of my crazy boys while being many states away.

    Erica, Your children will thank you one day, as you’ve thanked your Mom. YOU are doing a great job!

    We keep doing what we do because it is our right, our privilege and our desire. You go as far as you want to go. We’ve got your back!

    • @janbeery Jan, I was just online looking for an old post of mine to see what sort of bio I had been using (about to send a guest post off) and decided to re-read this one. So glad I did. I don’t know how I missed this comment, but I so appreciate it. I’m thrilled you have my back and I know from watching you and @Katie Gutwein that it can be done – and done well. xoxo!