This piece originally appeared on Entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship involves a lot of planning, writing, calculating, paper-filing, marketing and more. Each of these eight moms did it all—with a kid on her hip.
But how did they do it? Caring for family is a major and time-consuming commitment that leaves little physical and emotional energy behind for business ventures. What’s more, most of these mompreneurs had full-time jobs when they began considering starting a business, compelling them to make major life decisions that couldn’t have been easy on the mind or the heart.
Against all odds, however, all eight mastered the art of balancing business, family and self—and in a way that, from the outside, looks totally effortless. Here’s how they did it.
By recognizing opportunity
Doctor Shannon Davis PT, DPT understood the need for a carpet-, tile-, and wood flooring-compatible balance device that would allow children to move independently one night when she noticed her baby struggling to chase a family pet around the house. After a slew of prototype tests and instances of trial and error, Shannon devised the perfect product: the Little Balance Box, which safely helps babies and toddlers sit, stand and walk without assistance from an adult.
Instead of settling for inadequate stability devices like seated and wheeled walkers, Shannon took advantage of the issue she and her baby were experiencing—after all, others had to be dealing with the same problem.
Special Agent Heather Ryan has a bit of a different story. During much of her time working with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), Heather regretted being unable to spend sufficient time with her family. When her son graduated kindergarten, Heather could only watch via Skype from eight states away. It was that day she vowed to make a change.
Because Heather had extensive experience investigating major crimes like child abuse, sexual assault and homicide, she thought she could provide insight to the criminal mind that could benefit individuals and families seeking methods of self-defense. By analyzing the information she’d gathered from the most dangerous of “bad guys” over the years, Heather began Safe in the City, a practical safety class aimed toward women and families.
By realizing neither priority (family or business ownership) had to come over the other
Flesché Hesch, branded “the business advisor for moms,” originally wanted to combine family time with that spent on advancing her career. Though she could have returned from maternity leave to a full-time job she enjoyed, Flesché thought she could go one step further by combining her marriage and family counseling expertise with self-employment—specifically, by starting her own business coaching company for moms.
By being 100 percent in control of her own schedule, Flesché was able to make time for family when and how she wanted. To maintain a healthy balance, Flesché says, “No working during family time!” Separating work time from family time allows one to be more mentally and emotionally present during each.
April Perry, founder of Learn.Do.Become, helps others “architect lives worth living” between time spent with her family. While her four children are at school or finishing up homework, April builds her business. When everyone in the family is free, they work together to complete housework, yardwork, cooking and other chores before having fun.
“Running a business from home with four active children definitely requires a lot of patience and creativity!” April says. “It’s definitely a team effort, and there are many days I wonder what we were thinking, but overall, it works for us and we enjoy being able to spend so much time with each other and with our children.”
Nicole Rogers didn’t exclude her kid from any part of the entrepreneurial process—at least, not at the beginning. Nicole founded Agriprocity, a company that fosters long-term, direct relationships between farmers and food processors. Before and during startup, Nicole travelled around the world conducting research for her business, attending conferences and meetings that each took her one step closer to opening. She did it all with her baby boy.
“Taking a baby across the ocean from Dubai to Canada made the journeys challenging,” Nicole says of the process. “Now, our son attends nursery in our office building so we can have flex time with him.” The absence of physical distance between Nicole’s family and her business makes it much easier to remain close with her husband and son.
By capitalizing on their own motherhood
Though some may view parenting as business setback, mompreneurs like Flesche, who teaches other moms how to start their own companies, and Heather, who helps other families stay safe through Get Safe Academy, view it as a major advantage. Sarah Jagger, founder of Domestic Objects, knows she can appeal her products (gorgeous, handmade play tents) to other parents, because they were originally made for her own kids. She also knows her tents are a great way of encouraging imaginative play without the use of technology.
“My customers are almost always moms who are looking for ways to keep their kids active, off electronics, and engaged,” Sarah says. “Today, iPads and other electronics are embedded in children’s lives, and I wanted to find ways to get them using their imagination, playing with each other, being active and having fun. From the marketing side, I think my story helps me sell.”
By owning it
Unfortunately, it’s all too common for working women to receive hurtful comments and questions regarding their abilities to raise happy families while advancing their careers. Mompreneurs experience this tenfold. Rachel Olsen, founder of Best Mom Products and author of the book Shark Tank Mompreneurs Take a Bite Out of Publicity, says she followed the entrepreneurial path to demonstrate female leadership to her daughters, which only strengthens her ability to deflect negative comments from others.
“It’s not for everybody, and it doesn’t need to be,” Rachel says of parenthood and business ownership. “We all have our own path to follow, and when someone discounts my choices in anything, I look at it as a reflection of what they internally have going on—issues they haven’t resolved in their own life. I don’t take it personally.”
Kalika Yap, founder of Luxe Link, The Waxing Co., Citrus Studios, and many others knows as a serial entrepreneur that her unique business lifestyle is right for her and her family. “I don’t feel guilty at all. I know what I do [for] myself or my family is for all of us. I also work very hard and try my best in both work and family life. I’m ‘all in,’” Kalika says.
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Kalika is on track to starting a brand new company with her children called Conscious Kids, which will focus on ethical leadership in school-age children. By involving her kids directly in business ownership, Kalika is both a positive role model and a more interactive mother.
It certainly wasn’t easy, but these eight mompreneurs managed to master business ownership without sacrificing family. What will you do with your entrepreneurial career, now that you know anything is possible?