How Motherhood Prepares Women for a Career in Entrepreneurship

Exhaustingly long days, demanding clients, bouts of sleeplessness, days that turn into weeks — sound familiar? If so, you are a mother or entrepreneur.

Starting a business is a lot like having a baby.

First, the initial excitement of starting something new is quickly followed by an overwhelming wave of fears and worries. So, preparation becomes your top priority. And yet, once released, everything you thought you knew goes out the window, and it feels like you didn’t plan a thing.

Motherhood is an adventure as daring and arduous as entrepreneurship. In a way, it’s even more work. According to a 2018 study conducted by Welch, working moms average 98 hours per job — roughly the equivalent of holding 2.5 full-time jobs.

But it’s these kinds of challenges that have become the inspiration for many women’s businesses today. Additionally, the motherhood experience gives women entrepreneurs a head start on what to expect in today’s demanding and fast-paced business world.

Taking time to care for your children does not detract from your ability to run a successful business. Rather, it builds a unique set of skills that position you well for the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship.

Prioritization, organization and multitasking

As a mother, there are apparently hundreds of different things demanding your attention. Trying to attack them all at once will get you nowhere. The key is to prioritize the most important tasks and organize your daily activities accordingly.

Likewise, in the business world, there are bound to be a number of urgent projects thrown your way. In some cases, two or three assignments may be turned in at a time. Also, an entrepreneur is expected to manage several things simultaneously, like a mother.

In the same way, being a mother means performing several functions – as a caregiver, cleaner, chef, family nurse, driver, etc. Entrepreneurs must also possess similar flexibility. Especially when you’re starting out, an entrepreneur should jump in and play multiple roles in the business, even if it means getting into an area you weren’t prepared for.

And even then, the work is never done. There’s always another fire to put out (sometimes literally, in the case of being a parent), and you need to prioritize the most important tasks flexibly, allowing you to do another round of reprioritization.

Creative and ingenious thinking

Convincing a two-year-old to eat vegetables is arguably one of the toughest negotiations anyone can be a part of. However, mothers deal with these types of scenarios on a daily basis. If the obvious solution doesn’t work, they must quickly find another creative way to do things.

Using creative and resourceful thinking, a mother can often find a way out of any difficult situation. Being a successful entrepreneur also requires this kind of skill set.

Every entrepreneur will face difficult situations in which they must convince a customer, motivate employees or sell an idea to an investor. In some cases, a direct answer will not suffice. This means that an entrepreneur must find new and unusual ways to complete tasks.

This truth is also not based on assumptions alone. Science has proven how motherhood affects women’s creativity and ingenious thinking, allowing them to undertake more challenging activities.

A woman’s brain goes through cognitive, emotional and behavioral flexibility when becoming a mother. These changes help them adapt to new environments and simultaneously allow them to think outside the box. Thus, these unique problem-solving approaches position a mother to become even better at whatever business activity she faces.

Advanced Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills refer to how we communicate and interact with people on a daily basis, individually and in groups. From establishing context, improving organizational communication, discovering different listening styles, and developing effective communication strategies, these skills are crucial for motherhood.

“When I had kids, I found that listening carefully to my kids when they had a tantrum and expressing empathy helped them calm down quickly,” says Mital Patel, a life coach who works with parents. “My clients are not children, but we all react positively when someone really listens to us. So when I actively listen to my client’s needs and concerns and give them a safe space to open up and try to understand their perspective, that’s good for them and my business.”

However, this kind of empathy also requires a certain tenacity. Conflict resolution and mediation skills are equally important, especially when working with a group of people.

“As a parent, I often find myself playing the role of referee and coach, helping my children navigate conflicts and guiding them to find solutions, and I have seen this translate into my coaching.” Patel continues. “For example, I recently found myself mediating between two team members with different perspectives.” Patel shared three things she does that help her be an effective mediator, whether at home or in the office.

  1. Manage your emotions. If you don’t manage your own, it’s hard for you to help someone else manage theirs.
  2. Listen to learn. Listening to the other person with sincere curiosity helps us understand their perspective and gather the information we need. When people feel heard and understood, they are more likely to work with you to reach a solution.
  3. Communicate gently but firmly. “It’s an art,” says Patel. “But if we can be kind, it will help build trust and lessen conflicts.” Firm boundaries help set clear expectations and prevent future problems.

As between mother and child, conflicts, quarrels and disagreements will happen in the workplace. The trick is to work together to resolve these interpersonal issues in a positive and uplifting way.

Start preparing for your ‘business baby’

In both entrepreneurship and parenting, there is no rule book. So, despite your best efforts, planning will only take you so far, and reality can look very different from what you prepared for.

In both occupations, you’ll find it better to prioritize the things you can’t do without, delegate and seek advice for the rest. Because mothers trust other mothers, successful entrepreneurs must seek help from their more experienced superiors.

Courage, determination and hard work are key components of being a mother and an entrepreneur. And while there are certainly bumps along the way with both, it’s all part of starting a new and exciting journey that you’ll look back on and be proud of for years to come.

Leave a Comment