How Becoming a Mama Made Me a Better Entrepreneur

The two biggest catalysts for personal transformation I’ve ever experienced are hands down becoming a mama and becoming an entrepreneur.

Both will force you to deal with your own sh*t, get out of your comfort zone, and test you on the regular. Sometimes all at the same time – before you’ve even had the first cup of coffee.

So in honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I’d share some of the biggest lessons from mamahood that have made me a better entrepreneur (and you don’t have go through 36 hours of labor to benefit from these lessons)!

1: I Am Not a Mind Reader

The thing about kids is sometimes you have NO FREAKIN’ IDEA what they want. This is especially true when they are babies and can only cry at you (or, in my case, babble 2-year-old nonsense with complete conviction that he’s speaking in real words). And if you’ve ever been frustrated trying to figure out what a baby needs (after you’ve tried EVERYTHING you can think of) – and the baby/toddler keeps crying/freaking out on you – you’ve felt the MOM FAIL moment.

But that baby will start talking and TELL YOU exactly what they want. If you’ve ever heard “Mommy, I want some juice. Mommy, I want a banana. Mommy, I want to watch Spiderman.” You know this is INSANELY easier to manage than unexplainable crying.

So as an entrepreneur – do you know what your clients WANT?

Or are you trying to read their minds (by creating programs/services/offerings without listening to your clients) – and feeling like crying yourself?

[clickToTweet tweet=”You don’t have to be a mind reader! It’s infinitely easier to listen to your clients to learn exactly what they want!” quote=”You don’t have to be a mind reader! It’s infinitely easier to listen to your clients to learn exactly what they want!” theme=”style2″]

Ask Yourself: How can you listen to your potential clients?

Ask them what they want! In my welcome email, I ask a simple question – what do you need help with? – and that gives me tons of insight into how to help. Everything I create, from blog posts to paid programs, is based on what my community is telling me.

Get feedback! When was the last time you sent out a survey or questionnaire to your community? The more info you get from them, the EASIER this marketing thing becomes because you can speak their language!

Talk to your peeps! When was the last time you met someone from your community for coffee or jumped on skype to chat? Not for a sales pitch – but just a chance to listen and learn about what your peeps are going through so you can better serve them?

2: As Soon As I figure Something Out – Everything Changes!

My third child, Mitchell, is about 3 1/2 years old. Which basically means – I thought I had a routine down pat. Bedtime at 7. Naps around 12:30 PM. Awesome. Manageable. Mama gets some sleep too.

Until he hits a transition and now naps are whenever the heck he wants to take a nap. Most nights, he’s in-between Jameson and me in our bed.

Oh and then our 6-year-old Juli starts having nightmares and now there are 4 in the bed.

Right now, it’s musical beds in our house. And this mama needs some SLEEP!

I know we’ll figure out the new routine – but my point is – the only CONSTANT is CHANGE.

[clickToTweet tweet=”For mamas and entrepreneurs: The only constant is change! Roll with it!” quote=”For mamas and entrepreneurs: The only constant is change! Roll with it!” theme=”style2″]

I can’t get mad at Mitchell for growing and developing.

It’s not Juli’s fault that she’s having nightmares.

What used to work just isn’t working anymore.

A few years ago, I was producing TONS of content. In one year, I think I created something like 75 video blogs + 50ish weekly newsletters + 50ish weekly blogs.

But my business was also quickly changing. And after a year of trying to keep up with my old content creation schedule, I realized I had to adapt my plans to make room for where my business was going + growing.

Time for a new (in my case – more sustainable) plan.

I realized that once I was through that ‘startup’ phase, I didn’t need to hustle so hard! I could focus on just a few key strategies that move my business forward (and the answer wasn’t more marketing). Now I’ve got breathing room and a biz that’s growing sustainably, sans burnout.

Ask Yourself: What isn’t working anymore in your biz?

Are you traveling too much and tired of being on the road?

Are you still working with clients on things that don’t excite you anymore? When you’d really rather be focusing on a new topic?

Are you frustrated that what USED to work to bring in clients just isn’t working as well anymore? And you know you’ve gotta shift marketing strategies to keep growing?

3: Sometimes You’ve Gotta Put On Your Big Girl Pants and Make It Happen.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Sometimes You’ve Gotta Put On Your Big Girl Pants and Make It Happen!” quote=”Sometimes You’ve Gotta Put On Your Big Girl Pants and Make It Happen!” theme=”style2″]

Don’t get me wrong, being a mom is the best thing that’s ever happened in my life. But there are days when the kids need more than I can give, and it’s time to RALLY. Gotta dig deep and find that reserve tank of love and attention.

With three littles, at least once a week I have a morning where I had about zero sleep the night before (which is right now, the new normal)… and of course, that meant that my kids decided that morning, we needed to all be up at 5:30 AM. My house looked like a disaster. I didn’t even have a cup of coffee in me yet and couldn’t even pee in peace without a kid asking for a banana.

I felt like crying/screaming/having a mental breakdown (sleep deprivation is a special form of torture).

But I pulled it together, splashed some water on my face, put on some music, and made the kids breakfast.

My daughter went to school with a crazy outfit (tutu over pants with a matching princess crown) and my son didn’t have his hair brushed. The beds went unmade and the dishes were tossed in the sink. Twins went to school then I took a long walk with the little one around the neighborhood.

I could have been a mean mommy. Yelled to get everything done and stressed myself out. Instead, I let the little things go and just made sure everyone knew they were loved.

There have admittedly been lots of days like this in my business as well. Days when it feels like a million people need things from me and I’ve got a million things on my checklist.

Those are the days when you think “OMG I can’t do this, and want to quit.” Yup – it happens to us all!

[clickToTweet tweet=”We all have days – as entrepreneurs and moms – when we just wanna quit. You aren’t alone!” quote=”We all have days – as entrepreneurs and moms – when we just wanna quit. You aren’t alone!” theme=”style2″]

But you’ve GOT TO RALLY! Get the important things done – working with clients or sending out your newsletter. Take care of your peeps & let them know you care.

Then take care of yourself – push things back in your calendar. Take a walk (or a nap).

Read all the amazing testimonials you keep in a folder for these types of moments.

The little things will always be there – in life and in biz – and those are often the ones that make us feel the most stressed out. Be OK with letting them take a backseat so you can focus on what really matters – the people you LOVE (and love working with) and taking care of yourself!

4: Sleep When The Baby Sleeps (Aka Get Some Rest)!

Before I had kids – I didn’t get it. Why sleep when the baby sleeps? That’s when you can do all the things that need to get done! My naive baby business plan included me working through every nap time (especially since when the twins were little, I couldn’t yet afford a babysitter).

I quickly learned that I was burning the candle at both ends.

Being a mama is HARD work. Being a mama to 3 ages 6 and under with very little sleep – it’s downright exhausting.

Add running a business on top… and it’s no wonder that most mamas just press pause on their biz until their kids are in school.

I never had that luxury of just taking off a couple of years while my babies were in diapers. My biz = bringing home the bacon for my family. Especially now that my hubby works with me. There is no ‘mommy track’ here!

But I’ve learned that building in self-care isn’t a luxury. It’s an essential part of my business strategy.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Self-care isn’t a luxury for mamapreneurs – it’s essential!” quote=”Self-care isn’t a luxury for mamapreneurs – it’s essential!” theme=”style2″]

Self-care doesn’t mean mani’s and pedi’s and massages (though I schedule in those at least once a month now). It means simplifying + systematizing my biz so that it worked FOR me (instead of me working my fingers to the bone for it). It means setting boundaries between work and life. It means saying NO more so that I can say YES to what matters most in my life.

If you let your love tank run on fumes – there’s no way you’ll be able to keep moving forward in your biz.

Ask Yourself: How can you simplify & streamline your biz? Where do you need boundaries or support?

5: It Takes a Village to Raise a Baby (and a Business)

[clickToTweet tweet=”It takes a village to raise a baby (and a business)!” quote=”It takes a village to raise a baby (and a business)!” theme=”style2″]

Before I had my twins in 2010, I was sure I could be super-mom. Breastfeeding, cloth-diapering, super-mom. With twins. And no family nearby to help. WITH TWINS.

Somehow in my mind – despite being raised myself within walking distance to my grandmother and aunts and uncles – I thought I could manage just fine without any help. And keep my biz going.

Then reality hit… and I was ready to let go of being super-mom. Being super-mom is EXHAUSTING (notice that coming up a lot?). You will hit burnout trying to do it all, all by yourself.

By the time my twins hit about 6 months, I realized I needed to loosen the reins (aka stop being such a controlling mama) and let my husband handle the twins for while so I could get me time. I started teaching yoga a couple of times a week again, writing, and started to come back to life!

Once they reached a year old, another twin mama and I created a babysitting share (we both got 2 1/2 mornings of babysitting) so that we could both get back to work. I started to take the twins to the gym day-care so I could get my work-out and then clear my inbox each day (thank goodness for 2 hours of gym daycare)!

When the twins were old enough at 2 1/2 to start preschool, I found freedom in having 5 mornings a week completely devoted to my business. And now that we have 3 kidlets – the twins go to kindergarten 5 days a week while Mitchell heads off to preschool.

I didn’t start out with full-time childcare – we got creative and did what we could. But as my kids and business grew, I needed more support!

And the support didn’t stop with childcare (though without the nanny, I can’t do anything).

My first assistant was an amazing woman who traded being my virtual assistant (managing my calendar, booking free consults with potential private clients, and handling my inbox) for 6 months of business coaching with me.

I had gorgeous professional headshots taken as another exchange with a photographer who needed someone to help her implement her marketing strategy and host her first virtual event.

Fast forward 5 years later… and behind the scenes there are nearly a dozen team members and freelancers helping me to keep both of my businesses running. I’ve built an amazing team who all care deeply about our community and the work we’re doing. Yes – it’s expensive to have this much support… but it’s the price I happily pay to create freedom for myself to create both a life and a living.

Remember – it’s taken me 5 years and 3 children to get to this point in my life and business! And hopefully, by sharing my journey with you, your own mamapreneur journey will be just a little easier.

Talk to Me! What lessons have you learned as a mama that have made you a better entrepreneur? Let me know in the comments below!