How Motherhood Prepares Women For A Career In Entrepreneurship

Devoting time to caring for your children doesn’t hinder your ability to run a successful business. On the contrary, it creates a unique set of skills that put you in good stead for the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship.

By Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo

Exhaustingly long days, demanding customers, periods of insomnia, days that turn into weeks — sound familiar? If so, you’re either a mother or an entrepreneur.

Starting a business is much like having a baby.

First, the initial excitement of starting something new is quickly followed by an overwhelming rush of fears and worries. Then, preparation becomes your top priority. And yet, once you launch, everything you thought you knew goes out the window, and it seems you planned nothing.

Motherhood is just as daring and strenuous an adventure as entrepreneurship. In some ways, it’s even more laborious. According to a 2018 study conducted by Welch, working moms clock an average of 98 hours per work — roughly the equivalent of having 2.5 full-time jobs.

But it’s these types of challenges that have become the inspiration for many women’s businesses today. In addition, the experience of motherhood provides female entrepreneurs with a head start on what to expect in today’s demanding, fast-paced business world.

Devoting time to caring for your children doesn’t hinder your ability to run a successful business. On the contrary, it creates a unique set of skills that put you in good stead for the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship.

As a mother, there are seemingly hundreds of different things demanding your attention. Attempting to tackle them all at once won’t get you anywhere. The key is prioritizing the most important tasks and organizing your daily activities accordingly.

Similarly, in the business world, there’s bound to be a host of time-sensitive projects thrown your way. In some cases, two or three assignments might be due at a time. Moreover, an entrepreneur is expected to manage multiple things simultaneously, like a mother.

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Likewise, being a mother means wearing many hats — as a caregiver, cleaner, chef, family nurse, chauffeur, etc. Entrepreneurs must also possess similar flexibility. Especially when you’re starting, an entrepreneur must jump around and serve various functions in the business, even if it means stepping into an area you weren’t prepared to.

And even then, the work is never over. There’s always another fire to put out (sometimes literally, in the case of being a mother), and one must prioritize the most important tasks flexibly, enabling one to undertake another round of re-prioritization.

Creative and Resourceful Thinking

Convincing a two-year-old to eat their vegetables is arguably one of the most difficult negotiations anyone can participate in. Yet, mothers deal with these types of scenarios daily. If the obvious solution doesn’t work, they must quickly find another creative way to get things done.

Using creative and resourceful thinking, a mother can often find her way out of any difficult situation. Being a successful entrepreneur also requires this type 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 straightforward answer won’t be enough. This means an entrepreneur must find new and unusual ways to complete tasks.

This truth isn’t just based on assumptions, either. Science has proven how motherhood affects creativity and resourceful thinking in women, allowing them to undertake more challenging pursuits.

A woman’s brain undergoes cognitive, emotional, and behavioral flexibility upon 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 pursuit she tackles.

Advanced Interpersonal Skills

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

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“When I had children, I found that listening intently 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 aren’t children, but we all respond positively when someone truly listens to us. So when I actively listen to my client’s needs and concerns and provide them a safe space to open up and try to understand their perspective, it’s good for them, and that’s good for my business.”

However, this type of empathy also demands a certain toughness. Conflict resolution and mediation skills are just as important, particularly when working with a group of people.

“As a parent, I often find myself playing the role of a referee and a coach, helping my children navigate through conflicts and guide them to find solutions, and I’ve 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 to be an effective mediator, whether at home or the office.

  1. Manage your emotions. If you don’t control your own, it’s hard for you to help anyone else manage theirs.
  2. Listen to learn. Listening to the other person with sincere curiosity helps us understand their perspective and collect the information we need. When people feel heard and understood, they are likelier to work with you toward a resolution.
  3. Communicate gently yet firmly. “It’s an art,” Patel says. “But if we can be gentle, it helps build trust and de-escalate conflicts.” Firm boundaries help to set clear expectations and prevent future issues.

Like between a mother and child, conflicts will arise, quarrels will break out, and disagreements will happen in the workplace. The trick is to work together to resolve those interpersonal issues positively in an upbuilding way.

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Start Preparing for Your ‘Business Baby’

In both entrepreneurship and parenting, there is no rule book. So despite your best efforts, planning will only get you so far, and the reality can look much different than what you’ve prepared for.

In both occupations, you will find it best to prioritize the things you can’t do without, delegate, and seek advice for the rest. As mothers confide in other mothers, successful entrepreneurs must seek help from their more experienced superiors.

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



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