1. We're all making it up as we go
If there is one fundamental truth I've learned over the past 3 years, it's that we're all just making this shit up.
Let's call it what it is. My mom was right. There is no manual, and we're all just doing the best we can. This is fundamentally true of entrepreneurship as well. While there are endless mommy blogs and tons of incredible resources for new moms, the same way that there are mountains of resources for entrepreneurs, at the end of the day - we're making it up as we go and learning from our daily experiences.
We're relying on our instincts and natural wherewithal to navigate the tricky waters of entrepreneurship and motherhood, and while at some point you do get the hang of it. At first, and for the most part, this fundamental truth stands.
Here's a cool fact: there are 8.1 Million women-owned businesses in the US that generate $1.3 Trillion in revenue and employ roughly 7.6 Million people. And guess what, all of these women once were making it up as they went along, too.
2. Moms are multi-tasking ninjas
True story: before launching Sohuis I worked for a nonprofit organization that supported entrepreneurship all over the globe. I was their director of marketing and the CEO enthusiastically invited many of the moms to bring their kids to work when needed and during this particular time in my life, Aèden would come to work with me about 2-3 days a week. She was less than a year old at the time.
So here I am...in my office (door closed), Aèden is sleeping in my left arm, I'm managing to handle my pump with my right arm, I've got my headphones plugged in because I'm on an important call with the U.S. Department of State, as we were rolling out a global marketing plan to bring entrepreneurs from Latin America into the United States. Meanwhile, I've got leaders from all over the U.S. government asking my thoughts on how to roll out the program, what strategies we should try first...I'm trying desperately to give short, concise, serious answers so that nobody puts the pieces together that my pump is what's making the sound of a city bus starting and stopping. I'm praying that Aèden just continues to sleep for 5 more minutes, and my marketing coordinator is taking notes for me because she knows that I literally cannot do another task at that moment.
What's incredible about this is that I know this is one of MANY similar stories and experiences that other working moms can relate to. And while my story is unique to me, the concept of ninja-like multi-tasking most certainly is not. As an entrepreneur, you multi-task in similar capacities because oftentimes you're the only one who can do those specific tasks in that specific moment. You're constantly managing multiple things at the same time and after a while, you get deviously good at switching from various tasks quickly and efficiently.
In fact, a recent study showed that, on average, "moms manage at least 26 tasks in the morning while completing at least 12 major jobs per day." And that's all before 10am!
Now, it's been my experience that long-term multitasking in this way isn't the most sustainable option for your well-being. But the fact of the matter remains that we become pretty damn good at it, and it translates to being nimble, efficient, resourceful entrepreneurs.
3. Speaking of resourceful, moms are resourceful AF
I feel like there are endless examples of mom-resourcefulness. Like that one time I totally forgot to pack extra diapers in my bag and I had to make-shift one out of toilet paper. And I'm not talking about good, luxurious toilet paper - I'm talking about the crappy public bathroom toilet paper that practically disintegrates upon touch. Did I mention that the restaurant I was at also didn't have a family restroom or changing table? Yea..so I managed to craft her Tarzan diaper on the counter and POOF! Nobody knew the wiser.
Entrepreneurship is defined by resourcefulness, especially in the beginning. Like motherhood, everyday poses a unique adventure with unforeseen challenges and obstacles that require you to channel your inner Macgyver and curate out-of-the-box solutions.
4. A mother's intuition is never wrong
This recent study illustrates a fascinating scientific discovery about a mother's intuition. Everyone knows that the mother passes DNA on to the child through the placenta, but apparently, fetal DNA also passes back to the mother and can find a home inside of the mother's organs - particularly, the brain. And in this study, they concluded that the DNA that was passed from the fetus in utero stays with the mother for life - hence, the science behind a mother's intuition because they carry the DNA of their children inside of their own bodies. CRAZY!
Many famous entrepreneurs have credited their intuition as the main vehicle for their success. And while I haven't built a multi-million dollar business (yet), I can get behind this notion all day long. One of the first things I do with a new business opportunity or partnership is listen to what my intuition is telling me. It took me years to figure out how to do this, and I can honestly say that becoming a mom has sharpened this tool ten-fold.
5. Fall down 9 times, get up 10
Moms. are. resilient! It's been said that motherhood is the wildest rollercoaster on earth - and I believe it. Some days I wake up feeling like I'm totally owning this #momboss life, and other days I just want to watch Project Runway reruns all day and take a nap; bonus for me if I get around to washing my hair. In another post I wrote, I talk about the realistic version of entrepreneurship that nobody sees, and it looks a lot like this:
Both moms and entrepreneurs, even during the toughest of times, have days where we go to bed exhausted and wake up ready to do it all over again. Moreover, we wake up wanting to be better - to keep going, keep chipping away at it, and to keep believing in our vision.
6. Moms are expert negotiators
"Use a sticker chart to potty train," they said. "Give them a reward every time they pee in the potty," they said. "Girls are way easier to potty train than boys," they also said. Pottytraining Aèden was one of the most ambitious obstacles to date. Not because she was difficult or had a hard time with it - I'm actually thankful for our experience after learning what other moms have gone through - however! How do you use a sticker chart with a child who hates stickers? When we first started potty training, Aèden was totally not interested in any incentive I would offer. She would just sit on the potty and sing songs, get down, then immediately pee on the floor. It wasn't clicking. Something about my proposal was not enticing for her - that is, until she discovered popsicles.
We had been "attempting" for a couple of weeks when I decided to pull out the big guns. Everything I read stressed that I shouldn't lose my cool, no matter how frustrated I got. And let me you tell you, I was getting frustrated. Our negotiations went back and forth for some time until one morning, I cleared my entire schedule and self-proclaimed that today was the day. With the most amount of zen energy I could muster, I sat on the bathroom floor with a day's worth of reinforcements (books, crayons, toys, etc). She wanted a snack, I would point to the potty - not saying a word. She wanted to go outside, I'd look at the potty. She wanted to watch her favorite show - potty. I was never upset at her, and occasionally she would sit on my lap and we would read and color and play. I just made the following very clear - "I am going to sit right here until you pee on this potty, and nothing will happen until you do so. I can play this game all day, and you will not break me, little toddler." This went on for 2.5 hours.
Then, when I knew she was seriously considering my proposal, I brought out the big guns - popsicles. (We didn't even have any popsicles, but that wasn't important) I told her that she would get a popsicle if she peed on the potty and sure enough - success! We celebrated, high-fived and hugged, and off we went for her to pick out her favorite popsicle. She's been potty trained everysince, and I'm happy to report that she now has a new love and appreciation for stickers. :)
In my entrepreneurial experience, negotiations are never about winning or losing, they're about co-creating a solution that works best for both parties. It requires patience, strategy, and anticipation of the other person's wants/needs/desires so that you can propose something that works best for you, and for them. Moms can do this in their sleep
Bonus! Moms don't take no shit
Want a visionary to execute a powerful idea? Take a few notes from a mom you might know. Need some perspective on how to manage that client from hell, call a mom you know. Working on a huge deal that could make or break your business - you know what to do.
To all of my fellow mombosses out there, I see you. And to all of the mamas who are thinking about launching their own business, remember that you already have every skill needed to be a successful entrepreneur - you already do it every single day.
Written by Jessica K