In Arianna Huffington’s book, On Becoming Fearless , she reminds us of the importance of sleep. I wish someone had read me that chapter. As a woman and Mompreneur, I find sleep is often the first thing to go when the To Do list gets too long. Which it seems like it is every day, except for the days I forget one of the To Do’s, in which case I pay the price later, with even less sleep. So to the question of what advice I would give other moms who are considering starting their own business, I offer the following 5 tips:
- Be realistic. You do need to sleep. You cannot do everything. You don’t want to do everything. Your husband, children, and friends will resent you if you try to do everything. You are not good at everything. And you can’t do it alone. So don’t even try.
- Underpromise and overdeliver. Over the years I’ve learned that with motherhood, the doo-doo hits the fan even more often than it used to. Sometimes quite literally and most often when you most need it not to. i.e. the day before a big report is due. Even if you’re the type who used to be ready for final exams a week early, you’re early for every meeting, and you’re always the first one on a conference call, being a mom assures that that simply will not be the case anymore.
- Know what you want. It sounds simple enough but really it’s not. Are you starting a magazine because you want to live like Anna Wintour, or because you just love writing and editing so much you won’t mind sitting in a home office in your sweats at three in the morning editing under a deadline? Are you starting a cute little clothing boutique because you love shopping, or because you love being at the same store seven days a week, surrounded by purchase orders, tradeshow receipts, and color swatches? How about when you know the rest of the family is sitting down to dinner while you’re still working away? I am not trying to sound discouraging but it is easy to fantasize about having one’s own business, without realizing what the daily duties entail and a lot of suffering can be avoided by knowing what it is you really want to be doing every day and making sure it is in alignment with the realities of the business you are considering.
- Be fearless. As Huffington explains in her book, fearlessness is not an absence of fear, but the courage to keep going in the face of fear. If you start your own business, you will face fear every day and you will have to decide what you’re going to do about it. That insecure, naysaying, finger jabbing voice of doubt can get pretty darn loud. I try to respond as I do when Corbin is scared of something – with compassion, acknowledgment, and let’s-pull-up-those-boot-straps-can-do action. Life is not a dress rehearsal.
- Collaborate. Before getting too deep in your own grand plan, do some research. If someone else is already doing similar to what you envision doing, and you think you can make it better, see if there’s not some way to join forces rather than re-create a wheel or start an unfriendly competition. Some of my most rewarding experiences as an entrepreneur have been the result of reaching out to potential competitors and saying “Hey let’s talk and see what we could do together rather than apart.”
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