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Mompreneur Stories: Flexibility

Posted on Sunday, Aug 9th 2009

By Guest Author Erika Valdez

There are many extraordinary examples of women entrepreneurs out there—women who, due to various circumstances, have chosen to take the path of entrepreneurship and are now owners of successful businesses. Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to interview many women, most of them moms, who have ventured into entrepreneurship and who are now success stories. These women have shared their experiences as mompreneurs and talked about the challenges they encountered in their transitions. Each has a unique and admirable story.

The interviews focus on the experiences of these mompreneurs, and what contributed to their decision to venture into entrepreneurship. Throughout these interviews, I observed that my subjects mentioned a number of similar themes when recounting their entrepreneurial experiences—the flexibility that entrepreneurship offers being one of the themes most often mentioned.

Most of the women I interviewed said that this flexibility is one of the most important factors that contributed to their decision to become an entrepreneur while raising a family. While each woman’s situation is different and some women need to return to work soon after having a child, others are in a position to decide whether to continue with their career or become a stay-at-home mom (and, as many women will attest, either is a job of its own). Making the transition from having a career in corporate America to becoming a full-time mom can be challenging. The moms that I talked to said that in choosing to become entrepreneurs, they had the flexibility to achieve both, caring for their families while working from home with a schedule that they create.

Such flexibility becomes a crucial ingredient for success. For these mompreneurs, flexibility is something that has helped them balance their lives. One example is that of mompreneur Valerie Fitzgerald (founder of The Valerie Fitzgerald Group), who views working from home as a great business opportunity for women. “It allows women to take their skills and apply them to a variety of industries and work from home. This enables a woman to make her own hours, work with whom she wants, and design the life she wants to live,” she says.

Ms. Fitzgerald sets out priorities for her day with lists and schedules; this ensures that everything gets done while allowing her time for family. She is a big systems person, so the ability to juggle it all depends on her ability to prioritize, delegate and plan efficiently. She realizes that there are always things to do, but she makes sure that she completes tasks during her set working hours. Ms. Fitzgerald is active on social networking sites, and her business requires constant communication with her clients. Scheduling, and working off lists helps her keep the boundaries between work and home more clear. Having a flexible schedule allows her to complete her daily tasks efficiently. Flexibility has played a huge role in her success as a mompreneur.

Bibby Gignilliat, founder of Parties That Cook, is another woman whose decision to go into entrepreneurship was due in part to the flexibility it offered. “I wanted to call all the shots and have flexibility with my schedule,” she says. Stacey Kannenberg, CEO of Cedar Valley Publishing, shares similar views. Having a flexible schedule has enabled her to “mak[e] time for both of my babies: my kids and my business. I still work around the clock and around my family’s schedule.”

Entrepreneurship has offered these women promising new careers, while allowing them to raise a family, in part because its flexible nature does not force them to choose between the two. In the words of mompreneur Sally Shields, an author and international media specialist, “If you can find a way to raise your kids by staying at home, and also nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit at the same time, is the best combination—the best of both worlds.”

This segment is a part in the series : Mompreneur Stories

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The Work-from-home Mom Advantage | Best Family Resources Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 7:09 AM PT

There are many mom-prenuer’s that are working hard but could could be working smarter. Not only are we busy in the pursuit of our chosen careers but often we have children…perhaps ill parents…personal issues that may be limiting…limited funds….rocky marriages/no marriage….well you get the picture. Our lives become a “melting pot” of multitasking! It is critical to write everything down into 2 colums. One you havethings you need to tend to everyday and one you don’t. I suggest working on making those things on the “have to” column into a schedule. Put a time by each line and live that schedule for 30 days. Try not to deviaite from the times much. This will create a habit and will make these things happen naturally. Once you feel you have a kind of “rhythum” to this schedule take the other list of things you need/should do and gradually add in one a week to your schedule. You will know what is too much for you to handle if you become overwhemled. Then just step back…take something off your schedule (lighten the load as they say) and when you feel strong enough one day begiin again.
Being a MOM-prenuer can be exhausting and exhilarating you just need to be orgainzed in your mind and with your tasks to appreciate the journey! Good Luck!

Valerie Fitzgerald Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 10:41 AM PT

I am one of those mompreneurs who developed and launched a vision out of sheer need. Motherhood allows us the time to reflect on what we want out of life, both personally and professionally. Very often, when you are on that corporate treadmill, you don’t hop off long enough to realize what it is that you are passionate about. Take maternity leave to revaluate life and release you inner mompreneur! It’s the most rewarding work, outside of having children, that you might ever find! I have made it my mission to empower women who the tools and resources to just that.

Bradi Nathan Monday, August 10, 2009 at 8:54 AM PT

I think this is amazing!! As someone who is a stay at home mom with 2 lovely daughters this is an inspiration. Don’t get me wrong I love being a mother but I also have other aspirations. I’ve put on hold a very promising career in Public Relations to stay home and care for my children. Don’t get me wrong I love being a full time mom and I don’t think I could give my daughters my all if I was still climbing the corporate ladder. But after reading this I am reassured that there are other options for mothers like me!

Sandra C Garza Monday, August 10, 2009 at 9:39 AM PT

Great article! I concur…flexibility is what entrepreneurship is all about. And with the prices of daycare nowadays, it is a win-win situation for the family. The children benefit tremendously from the personal attention they get from Mom. Flexibility also leads to greater control for some people. Some individuals get more done when they are in control…when they can work at their own pace. I think every Mom in America should read this article! Very inspirational!

Stephen Borrego Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 10:03 PM PT

Great perspective and take on this article. I have clients who are mompreneurs and it really is the best of both worlds all based on the fundamental principle of flexibility. I hear all the time, support and appreciate that nothing is more important than raising their own children and yet when the freedom and flexibility allows, they can stay connected to the changing and competitive market environment that offers a chance for a income opportunity. Go Mompreneurs!

Kevin Clark Monday, August 17, 2009 at 10:24 PM PT

flexibility is the what I love most about being a mompreneur. I also enjoy the opportunity to be creative, take risks, and challenge myself. I love being able to say “yes,” when given the opportunity to attend an event during the school day and to not have to worry about sick days, personal days, etc. Of course, this flexibility often moves early mornings and late nights to get the work done. I have learned though that burning the candle at both ends, serves no one in the long run. I now realize that the success of my business, my family and my dreams depends on making myself a priority. Thanks for sharing the article!

Cydney Smith Friday, August 21, 2009 at 1:46 PM PT