by Grace Kent Johnson, Bread CEO
As a wife, mother, and business owner, I want to inspire other women–particularly mothers–to love what they do and own their own businesses. Mothers are strong, resourceful, selfless, and resilient, all qualities that will serve them well in the business world. But mothers are also human, and the demands of everyday life can lead us to believe that work-life balance is a beautiful idea, but an impossible reality. Here’s what I’ve learned: being a mom and owning a business is far from easy, but it is one of the best ways you can model leadership, selflessness, and drive for your family. The following six tips draw from my own experience as a mother and business owner, and I hope they provide you with some actionable steps that make your dream even more of a reality.
1. Find a Partner Who Balances You, Holds You Accountable, and Has Your Back
My husband, Casey, is the calm to my chaos. He’s the introspection to my constant action. He asks the hard questions and gives me valuable opportunities to reflect on why I do what I do. For better or for worse, Casey has my back. He has my best interests at heart. He is my home. As moms who own businesses, we need partners who dream and do alongside us. If you do not have a partner, seek a trusted friend or family member who supports your passion and is willing to hold you accountable. You need this support at home if you are going to be successful in your business.
2. Create a Strong Army. Train Them to Fight Beside You, Not Behind You
Moms who own businesses–and, oftentimes, moms in general–may believe they have to do it all. You don’t have to micromanage every task. In fact, you shouldn’t. Just as you want to teach your children to be independent and self-sufficient, you should aspire for your employees to have the knowledge and confidence to act in your business’s best interests. The most effective business-owning moms know how to equip their employees with skills that make them independent, passionate, and powerful. Pour your resources into finding the right people, people who share your vision and are willing to fight beside you.
3. Be Excellent. When You Leave the Office, Leave Knowing You Gave Your All
Whether you work from home or in an office, be present in your workspace. When you’re at work, give it everything you’ve got. That way, when you return home, you can be fully present with your partner and your children. Do not allow ‘mom guilt’ to occupy your thoughts at work, and do not allow ‘work guilt’ to occupy your thoughts at home. Wherever you are, be present and strive for excellence. Presence and excellence are easier said than done, so be sure to read all the way through this post. Self-care helps you stay excellent.
4. Give Your Kids All of Your Focus at Home
Our kids need their moms. They need us to play with them, listen to them, laugh with them, and cry with them. Foster their confidence in you and in themselves by being consistently available for them when you are at home. No emails, no work calls, no interruptions. You’re the boss, remember?
5. Make Sure Your Kids Know You Love What You Do
When I leave the house each morning, I tell my kids, “I’m headed out the door to do great things at Bread!” Even if my coffee hasn’t quite kicked in yet, I make sure to convey my excitement and passion when I leave. I never say, “I’m headed to work,” or, “I’m sorry, but Mom has to go to mean old work again.” I am sure to frame my work in my passion, and my kids can sense my excitement. They love wearing their Bread shirts and visiting Bread; they sense that this is a place where Mom makes good and cool things happen. When you live your values, your kids will want to follow your example and find their passions, too.
6. Most Importantly: Take Care of Yourself
Our culture values ‘busy-ness.’ We love to flaunt our full schedules and wear our stress like a badge of honor. But ‘busy-ness’ will destroy you, your business, and even your home life. Going a thousand miles a minute–mind, body, and soul–is not a sustainable or balanced way to work or live. Take walks. Eat mindfully. Treat sleep like the goldmine it is. Finally, make sure you schedule in some fun (sadly, you may have to put ‘fun’ in your calendar). Owning a business is rewarding, but it weighs on your mind and body. For mothers, the burden is even heavier. Listen to your body, to your mind, and to your family. When you need to eject for a few days, hit that button with confidence! Your army has your back.
Parenting is hard. Owning a business is hard. Both are fulfilling and life-affirming. I’m still figuring out how to strike a balance between owning a business and caring for my family, but I hope these steps help inspire and empower you to be the mother and business owner you know you can be.