April Clarke is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member from Detroit and the owner of Xpress Non-Emergency Medical Transportation, Inc., a company devoted to providing innovative mobility services to clients in the Detroit metro area. She also owns Encompass Clarity, Inc. which consults small businesses on strategic planning and consumer research, insights and trends. A mother of two, we found out from her what it takes to run a business alongside.
Successful female entrepreneurs who are also moms face an initial struggle when their businesses are transforming from simple ideas to profit-generating new ventures. While you tackle the everyday desirable obligation of the duties of motherhood, you are forced to deal with the engrossing tasks of nurturing yet another being, an entity that is as demanding in its infancy as a newborn.
Whether we have spouses and partners or are going at it as single ladies, completing our daily to-do lists while maintaining a modicum of sanity is challenging most days. On others it's nearly impossible. And on those days it can be hard not feeling like you have completely failed at meeting the needs of one or both of your babies.
And what if, like me, you are mom to young children? As a mom to a 6-year-old and a 6-month-old, it becomes especially difficult to be the model mom and also give your all to something you know has the potential to impact many in the same way you impact your children. You are constantly striving for perfection in both roles because you haven't yet grappled with the fact that perfection doesn't exist. Yet, you do so, ignoring conventional wisdom, which can lead to, at the very least, disappointment and possibly a short relationship with prescription anti-depressants.
For me, the keys to success at the balancing act of being a successful entrepreneur and mom require that I understand three key insights that I apply on a daily basis.
- There is no such thing as balance. On any particular day, one thing is going to take priority over everything else. One goal or need will have to get met at the expense of another. This is life and what is to be expected when we take on the workloads of both family and business. We have to settle into the fact that most days we won't be able to address every love in our lives and we have to be okay with settling.
- Accept the help you are offered. This is true for any part of life and is one of the most valuable pieces of advice you get when you bring a new life into the world. But this advice is even more applicable if you have a workload consistent with two full-time jobs. Take the help offered by family and friends. And listen to the wisdom of those who tell you to hire help, cleaning help, caregivers, assistants, etc., if you can't easily find it for free. Don't let that idea of perfection get in the way here. You are the only one who can do things the way you do. But you are not the only one who can do these things. If you can be successful, and your staff and children can be successful and happy then the help is more than worthwhile.
- Understand, reference and apply your value system. This helps prioritize those things that are screaming for your attention daily. You will find that your to-do lists are filled with items that do not need to be done. And, when you have shortened your list, you will find you are both unapologetic and much happier for prioritizing and concentrating on the things that help you express your innermost aspirations and not simply those that make you feel productive. I have spent a lot of time simply crossing things off my list so that I can find the time to make the biggest impact on the few things that remained.
While entrepreneurs are driven to create, develop, expand and share, it is important that we keep the perspective, especially the women in our circle who bear a heavier weight, that we can, though with applied principles, reach a version of our version of idealized success both at home and with business. But, it is also important that we prioritize ourselves, realize that life is going to keep us busy and work with our teams to get there.