By: Candice Hughes
Have you rushed out the door ten minutes late, stomach grumbling because you didn't have time for breakfast, only to feel the warm slime of burped up milk from the little guy balanced against your shoulder? If you know what I'm talking about then you must, like me, be a working mom.
For 18 years, I've done the daily juggle, wondering how I can get through the day and keep sane. I want to share my thoughts with you. I want to leave you with some nuggets to make your day just that little bit less frazzled.
Getting Through the Corporate Grind
For the first eight years of my working mom life, I rose in the wee hours of the morning, donned my black suit, dragged my son to daycare or school then joined the press of commuters by train or by car. This led to many schedule challenges, especially when my day care provider closed shop for the night conflicting with company demands for extended work hours. Further pressure arises if your child doesn't like your chosen provider. This can happen despite one's best efforts to choose a good provider due to many circumstances including few available providers, high cost limiting selection, and just plain personality conflicts.
Some corporations go out of their way to help working moms with in-house daycare, working from home, job share programs or flex time. However, not all do.
Entrepreneurship as an Alternative
Instead of continuing on the path that is not working for you, stand back and take a strategic view of your career and your life. Assess what works, what doesn't and what the alternatives are. One alternative is being an entrepreneur. Not everyone is suited for this path. You will know you are suited if: you are self-motivated; self-directed; don't mind working alone, with remote or small teams and have a high tolerance for risk. If you are suited for entrepreneurship then there are a number of benefits this path offers for working moms. Five are key benefits that many moms will appreciate.
Yoga Mom -- Balance through Flex Time
The number one benefit to being an entrepreneur is having a flexible schedule. Since you are in charge, you make the decisions what work to take on, plan your own day (sometimes with some juggling to accommodate clients or customers), and decide on the intensity you want in your work. Having flexibility unlocks several related benefits: you may be able to reduce child care costs by more efficiently scheduling your family's time and you often can spend more quality time with your kids. Lest this sound too much like nirvana, keep in mind that you get out of a business what you put into it. So if you are spending much of your day with your children, your business is unlikely to thrive or produce much income. Never have children at home playing or talking in the background while on the phone with clients or customers. Don't multi-task. You are either watching your children or working on your business, not both. Older children, who can get their own snacks, do their own homework and largely care for themselves can, in many cases, be in the home while you are working as long as they are not distracting you.
Yet More Benefits: Great Rewards and Great Risks
Besides flex time, there are other benefits for your career and your family to being an entrepreneur. One is the chance to be creative. You develop the product or service your market needs. You also get the benefit of doing this in a culture that fits you. Tired of corporate cultures that stifle motivation? Think of how you want to be treated, the environment you want and create that for your employees or contractors. Another great advantage is building managerial skills. Been overlooked for promotions? Now is your chance to manage profit and loss, product development, finance and all the other functions you would never have been allowed within ten feet of at a large corporation. Note: This brings pressure and stress as well as positively stretching you so if the prospect is terrifying, entrepreneurship is not for you. Finally, you become an example your kids can look up to: an empowered, creative woman.
If you are courageous and innovative, entrepreneurship offers you the ability to make the world you want. It's not a perfect world, but it can be a beautiful and profitable world.
Candice M Hughes, PhD, MBA, is a serial entrepreneur who founded AdapTac Games, an award-winning startup, which developed an app for teens ADHD and is the author of the Small Business Rocket Fuel series.@candicemhughes