How Your Parenting Skills Make You a Better Entrepreneur
I’ve been mothering full time for nearly three years. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to stay home with my children. Still, the lapse it created in my employment history made me anxious.
Parenting is not for the faint of heart and comes with a wide range of highs and lows. While often overwhelming, we look back and cherish our decision to bring life into the world. But for many mothers like myself, it’s hard not to wonder if the decision to undergo the obstacles associated with full-time motherhood indefinitely marks the death of our professional careers.
Thankfully, the answer is no.
Becoming a Mompreneur
I was surprised to discover that the skills I’ve developed while raising my children are transferable. While it hasn’t been complication-free, I’ve made a relatively smooth transition from being a mother to being an entrepreneur, working as a diversity content specialist.
Many mompreneurs have found that their children provided them with a “special set of skills.” After all, what is parenting other than the management and upkeep of little humans?
The following are a few of the unexpected ways parenthood helps prepare you for entrepreneurship.
Parenthood Encourages Creative Flexibility
As a mother, I’ve learned to be capable of a little bit of everything. I’m my children’s first teacher, I’m a nurse, and I’m a chef. That level of creative flexibility translates quite well to the professional sector.
Parents have the ability to serve in almost any role you place them because they are everything to their children. As an entrepreneur, creative flexibility has enabled me to act in a multitude of positions in my business. There are days I need to be the accountant and manage invoices and debts. And there are other times that I have to focus on PR and brand management.
I wouldn’t be comfortable serving in those roles if I hadn’t spent so much time alternating roles as a parent.
Parenthood Develops Managerial Skills
Ask any hiring professional, and they will tell you the frustration that accompanies micromanaging an employee. Motherhood has shown me the way micromanaging throws a wrench in the day’s productivity. After all, keeping a 3-year-old out of trouble requires constant check-ins and clarifications.
Parenthood has given me a lesson in management. And it’s made it clear that different individuals require different forms of encouragement and discipline to perform at an optimum level. I’ve chosen to be a one-woman show in my business. But should I ever decide to grow my team, the things I’ve learned interacting with children at different developmental stages will be immensely helpful.
Parenthood Reinforces the Importance of Being a Self-Starter
Similarly, parenthood illustrates the understated importance of being a self-starter. Every morning, I have to feed my children and make sure their basic needs and a few of their not-so-basic needs are met. No one forces me to do what’s best for my children, and technically, it’s not something I have to do.
Sure, one could argue that as a mother, it is my responsibility to take care of my children. But in reality, no one can force me to do it. I must be intrinsically motivated to do it myself. We all know at least one example of someone whose parents showed us how optional parenthood is.
That intrinsic motivation makes a solid base for success as an entrepreneur. You have to be driven to develop, execute and maintain a successful business. Without a supervisor, there’s no one to force you into the tedious background tasks that we all hate — ahem, like doing taxes each spring.
Parenthood Teaches Us to Persist Despite Hardship
Not only is it essential to be a self-starter in motherhood as well as business, it’s also vital to be persistent. Parenthood is hard. There will be many moments that you want to quit, hit the reset button or wake up from the nightmare of caretaking. Unfortunately (and fortunately), it’s not that simple.
Being a mother has shown me that I have the ability to dedicate myself to tasks I might not enjoy. I’ve found my business solicits a similar response. I don’t always want to seek out new clients. Hell, there are even moments that I don’t want to be a business owner.
But you can’t parent or operate a business based on how you feel each day. Before parenthood, I had no idea what it was like to wake up every day and fully commit to a task voluntarily.
Parenthood Encourages Financial Literacy
On the rare occasion that I spend money leisurely, I live from sale to sale. Speak to any mother, and they will tell you we’re often beasts at finding the best deals. Parents have to find ways to keep everything running while managing the books in a way that is efficient yet comfortable.
As a business owner, my life has a similar dynamic. My day-to-day actions revolve around making ends meet. Being a parent motivated me to learn as much as I can about bank accounts, investments and regular expenses. Each of those has an undeniable benefit when trying to make profits and keep costs low as an entrepreneur.
Parenthood Reminds Us the Importance of Time Management
Time management is an undeniable aspect of intentional parenting. Children have to be fed, errands have to be run, and you have to find time to do basic hygiene tasks. Without time management, there’s no hope for accomplishing the myriad things that have to be done around the household.
When you’re a business owner, who works from home like I am, the stakes are even higher. If my time is mismanaged, something suffers. Naps have to be expertly timed, or work can’t be completed. Work has to be done on a consistent schedule, or meals and potty breaks will be missed.
It’s also worth noting that time management in business requires knowing when to step back and rest. I’ve lived life as a workaholic. The lack of breaks had some severe consequences for my health. There are times I wonder how I get it all done. The answer? The effective time management I’ve learned as a mother.
Parenthood Teaches Us How to Multitask
Another aspect of parenting that has benefited me is the ability to multitask. I often find myself reading an email while completing an assignment and getting the kids out of the house. I’ve learned to work on the go — a skill that allows me to experience the best of both worlds.
I couldn’t be as successful as I am professionally without being able to do two things at once. But I also can’t pretend that multitasking was a skill I had at birth. My children are the reason I learned to allocate the attention I give effectively. Naturally, there are some tasks that require you to be fully present. Still, with time, I’ve found that most tasks in parenting, as well as in daily business operations, are just fine with a divided piece of the attention pie.
Parenthood Tells Us the Importance of Trial and Error
It’s not enough to manage one’s time; we must learn to do things efficiently — and parenthood teaches us that. In both parenting and business, there’s a good chance that growth comes AFTER trial and error. It might take a few tries for you to learn what parenting technique works best for you and your children. Similarly, there might be a road paved with mistakes on the journey to profits and sales for your business's bottom line.
Either way, success involves employing one of many possible methods to achieve efficiency. Parenting doesn’t make you an expert, but it makes the journey a little bit more familiar.
Parenthood Teaches the Foundations of Negotiation
This morning, I told my son he was having pasta for dinner. He responded, informing me that he wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a cup of juice. My counteroffer was for a sandwich, string cheese and a cup of water. My child is one of the millions of toddlers who were born knowing how to negotiate. More often than not, our rounds of negotiation are reasonably successful. While some folks might find it inappropriate to bargain with a 3-year-old, I see it as a benefit to my experience as a business owner.
I’ve experienced rejection, and I know the frustration that accompanies being given a flat out “no” to my requests. Being a mother reminded me of the stakes of negotiation and took the fear out of requesting that extra $100 on a project. And, hopefully, no business contact will ever throw a fit as dramatic as what I get from my kids.
Parenthood Encourages Critical Thinking
I challenge you to show me something more creative than a mother in a bind. Problem-solving and critical-thinking skills are required to survive as a parent. There isn’t a day that goes by when my children don’t force me to consider out-of-the-box solutions to my problems.
These same skills have been inexplicably useful in my daily operations as a business owner. Each day is a new challenge to develop creative solutions to expand my audience, increase my revenue or expand my knowledge for a potential project. My children have helped me grow regarding mental agility and problem-solving, and I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Parenthood Highlights the Benefit of Collaborations
One of the most important things I’ve learned about business from my experience as a parent is the importance of networking. Motherhood is a challenge without support — a frequent occurrence considering that I have a spouse who travels.
Being a mother taught me the importance of having a support system to collaborate with when things get tough. There will be moments in parenthood and business when things will be too much to handle. Building connections helps us grow as parents, business owners and individuals.