As a young mom, my life was crazy. My husband and I both had city jobs and loved the city lifestyle, but we moved to the suburbs when we had our first child so we could be closer to the babysitting (thanks Grandma and Grandpa!). The commute was an hour each way, which was two more hours that I wasn't with my kids, 10 more hours that I was missing out on what was happening at home every week and 500 hours a year that I was rushing, stressed and not being productive. When I was pregnant with our second child, my husband and I took stock of where we were and were blessed to realize that his job allowed us the luxury of having me be a stay-at-home mom.
While staying home had its rewards, like morning snuggles with cherub-faced and Cheerios-covered kids, the truth was I missed working. I missed the challenges, excitement and, let's face it, grown up conversation and income that working provided. But I didn't want to go back to the corporate world. In the late '90s, jobs with flexible hours and work from home options were few and far between. The world wide web was in it's infancy and the word mompreneur wasn't yet in our lexicon, even though moms have been creating their own paths and businesses for years.
That Entrepreneurial Seizure
Since I couldn't find flexibility in the corporate work world, I had that 'entrepreneurial seizure' that has propelled so many before me: 'If I can't find what I need then I will just have to make it myself!'
I wanted to provide myself and other working moms with an alternative lifestyle that enabled us to both earn an income through fulfilling work and be there when our kids got home from school. In a 2013 survey by More magazine in conjunction with Citi's Women & Co., 91% of working mothers said that their families are very or somewhat dependent on their salaries. Yet almost half of them said that while money is the reason they work, they would prefer to stay home or work fewer hours. I searched and searched and when I realized there was no magic wand that could whip up a dream job with all the baby-toting bells and whistles, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work creating my own company with a family-friendly culture.
It was important to me that my company revolved around families and tapped into the power of moms, so I focused on creating a product that had families and fun at its core. I started Oaklee's Family Guide, as a resource to help busy moms save time and find fun things to do with their kids.
Family Focused at Our Core
This core value of family-focused has been an important part of the company culture from the beginning. It means that we encourage our workers, both moms and dads, to work from home and help out at school. They bring their children to meetings when babysitters or field trips cancel, and they leave promptly to meet the school bus. It means we don't do meetings for their own sake.
I have some workers who do all their emailing before 6am when the kids get up, and others who work late at night after the kids go to sleep. With 24-hour computing these days, the work always gets done, just not in the typical 9-5 time frame. And besides, looking back at all those sleepless nights your toddlers provided you, wouldn't it have been nice to be able to crack out a little work and make extra cash for the family during naps?!
Does this mean that I've sacrificed some fast growth for the company? Yes, I'm sure I have. But when the tradeoff is high quality, loyal and passionate workers, I can't say I would do it any differently. I love being able to create jobs that support working moms and give them earning power. (I also have non-mom employees who love the flextime work schedules, too!)
Tap into the Power of Moms
Take a look at the roles in your business. Can you add more flexibility so that work can be done from home, or in the evening? If you can create alternative options, there's a huge talent pool looking to make a contribution to your business, too.
As a small business owner, tapping into the mom market for both employees and customers is what works for me!
This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.