Mom Entrepreneur (A.K.A. “Mompreneur”)
Work was going well. I had a great job counseling hospital patients as part of an exceptional team. My position was flexible, offering me more time with my child than the typical 8-to-5 grind. I found meaning in my work and was proud to be part of a bigger system making positive change.
Then I started feeling restless. I noticed I was fatigued and stressed much of the time. I was unsure if the problem was me or my situation, so I worked on myself first. Maybe I just needed more self-care or a better attitude.
Then two things happened. First, I took a class entitled “Creating the Life You Want.” What a concept! I could create the life I want rather than just accept the life I have? I’d always chosen to walk through doors that were clearly open, which generally worked in my favor. But what if I wanted to create a new door all together? I started dreaming.
Second, I had a coffee date with a new friend that was pure kismet. She casually mentioned looking for a counselor to lease space from her 1-2 days a week. I immediately raised my hand without another thought. There began my journey into becoming a mompreneur.
Anything worth doing is usually hard work
If you had asked me five years ago if I would ever start my own private practice, I would have said absolutely not. At the time, I doubted my ability to create a business while raising a family. The last year and a half of being my own boss has been up and down, like hiking a mountain range. There are plenty of mistakes as well as plenty of ways I have impressed even myself with how well I’ve done. It’s a mixed bag.
I’ve recently encountered a few moms looking to strike out on their own and have asked me what business advice I can pass along. I don’t have much business advice, truthfully. I got my Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, not business! However, I do know what decisions helped me get going, which I believe can apply to anyone–even in situations very different from mine.
These suggestions have been echoed by many other mompreneurs in my own network. If you, too, are dreaming about forging your own path, maybe this will help you on your way.
My Top 5 Suggestions for Aspiring Mompreneurs
Collaborate in Community
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do it all on your own. I can’t fathom where I would be without the countless people I reached out to for help on knowing what to do, how to do it, and even why to do it some days. Truthfully, initiating that coffee date with my friend-now-colleague was the catalyst into making change. Creativity is often born out of collaboration.
Get to Know Yourself
Take time to spend with yourself, understanding your patterns, motivations, and what makes you tick. Discovering my Enneagram type made a huge difference in how I built my business. This taught me how to break unhelpful patterns and even helped me gain insight into my vision for my business. There are plenty of tools for learning more about yourself–find what works for you!
Starting a business takes a lot of work (like you didn’t know that already)! I find I often need to give myself gentle nudges to push a little bit harder. Say yes to staying up a bit later to write that post; say yes to that potential networking event. Say yes to more intentional screen time rather than mindless scrolling; say yes to more education and training. And say yes to whatever is going to help you be better at what you do and get the word out to more people. The business depends on it.
Balanced with #3, we also must say no to what doesn’t serve us. In business, we can’t be all things to all people. Know what you can’t do and aren’t willing to sacrifice. I have to regularly remind myself: “I am creating the life that I want,” which means I have to say no to things that aren’t getting me there. Sometimes this looks like outsourcing jobs–either professionally or personally. Sometimes it means directing a potential client to alternative services. Other times it means saying no to another activity to allow time for rest and restoration.
Bringing work home takes on a whole new meaning in self-employment. I do this best when I designate specific times for work, and when I communicate this clearly with my family. Set boundaries on when you work and when you play, and make sure your family knows the distinction. Having a location designated for work may be helpful as well. Your worlds are bound to bleed into each other at times, but the clearer your boundaries, the more space you will have to breathe. This can go a long way in helping to manage the mom-guilt that most working mothers battle.
I’m still pretty new at being my own boss, and I’m learning all the time. I welcome any fellow mompreneurs out there to add words of wisdom in the comments below!