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Many people who start a business later in life - after raising kids - say that motherhood helped prepare them for entrepreneurship. This got me thinking because for me, it was actually the reverse: Entrepreneurship helped prepare me for motherhood.
In 1993, when I started my business I had absolutely no idea what I was doing but I did have a vision of seeing my product on the shelves in stores all over the country. I was okay in knowing that I had to find my own way from Point A to Point B without a roadmap but at least I knew where I wanted to go. That incredible journey became a huge part of who I am today. I learned many lessons that I applied to parenting.
Since I began motherhood with no experience in the realm of taking care of a child, I visualized my goal down the road in raising a healthy, well adjusted 18-year-old who becomes a legal adult and is able to live a life in the form of his own vision.
From entrepreneurship, I knew I’d figure out how to be a decent mom by using both common sense and following lessons learned from others ahead of me. I found comfort in the beginning of both ventures knowing that I wasn’t the first person to go into either one without any experience or beyond any basic knowledge of the subject.
In the first two years of my business, I did what felt right to me. I read biz magazines, trade papers and inspirational books, made lists, set goals and became a part of the beauty industry by just participating. My first two years of motherhood, I also did what came naturally and supplemented by reading and joining a moms group, learning alongside others offered tremendous support.
The beauty of being an entrepreneur is that you build your own foundation for the business. Every business, like every family starts out the way you decide to build it. My husband, an attorney who left law and became my biz partner after two years of steady growth in the company knew enough to set up the business properly in regard to ownership, trademarks, finances etc. He handled the aspects of the biz that gave me headache, (or where I was weak!) such as accounting, insurance, manufacturing, shipping and international matters. I focused on my strengths which were the creative aspects and the sales and marketing. We had found our own roles within the biz that made it run smoothly. With parenting, the same thing occurred naturally, we found our own niche. My boys now know who to ask for what since we are completely different in parenting as we are in biz.
With my Moisture Jamzz, Inc. business, I had to learn about fabric, manufacturing, sales, marketing, invoicing and the list goes on. With parenting, I had to learn about everything from nutrition, allergies, behavior, discipline and immunizations to sleep deprivation but I remembered how much was gained by trial and error from building my biz. Entrepreneurship had given me permission to learn on the fly.
With business, there were a lot of things outside of my control. One example is that even though I knew Moisture Jamzz Gloves would sell well in a specific big bath & body chain store, I couldn’t seem to convince the buyer. Eventually though, she saw the success they were having in the marketplace and years later she bought in. Similarly, I’ve found that the advice I offer my kids (now 13 and 15 years old) occasionally takes years to sink in and maybe it’s only heard only on a subconscious level until that moment when it makes sense to them. I can’t force people to take action, I can just offer information.
My business began to grow in the first few years and took on a personality of its own. I would listen to customers/buyers at trade shows and learn about different ways that Moisture Jamzz made people feel. I also heard about different uses for them that I hadn’t ever thought about. My product was out there and it was touching people in different ways. My kids began to develop their own personalities and also touched people in different ways. They had become students, friends, grandkids, cousins and team mates. People knew them in different capacities and it was beautiful to see them coming into their own.
Manufacturing our gloves is an ongoing process, attempting to produce the fabric with the correct mix of cotton/Lycra without a variance in weight or content and have it sewn correctly for a perfectly comfortable fit. There have been many parallels like this in biz and in life. We give our kids a foundation of the necessities of life and then hope they find the right mix of what makes them happy and comfortable.
For me, entrepreneurship was the perfect prep for motherhood. I saw that I could start with just an idea and a lot of passion to build something special from scratch with trial and error. I’m still learning something new about both biz and parenting everyday, but I’ve found that the balance fits me like a glove.