Growing A Business While Raising A Family
I am not afraid to admit it, I have a full plate. I often say my glass is entirely full. Do you remember learning about the meniscus in science class – that little rounded shape that forms on top of a glass of water when it is completely full? (Due to hydrogen bonding – yes, I LOVE chemistry!) That is what my life is like most days. If you add one single drop to my glass (like a flat tire or unexpected melt down from my normally chill 5-year-old), the whole thing overflows. When this happens, all craziness can break loose! I may end up getting my kids to school late, not returning a phone call, or having to cancel a meeting. It’s all part of the delicate balancing act between being a mom and a business owner.
Would I change a single thing? Absolutely not! I have a passion that envelops me every day to drive forward and embrace the craziness in my life. I have a thirst for success that cannot be quenched unless I am in the throes of my work.
My passion is getting moms fit and strong while helping them feel supported and appreciated. I launched a popular strollerbased fitness franchise for moms in 2005 after my first child was born and quickly realized that moms flocked to the program not just for the exercise classes, but for the friendships and support. After the birth of my second child, I began to add programs for mom runners and for moms looking to get in the best shape of their lives, and very quickly my clientele increased from moms with stroller-aged kids to moms with kids of any age. That was when I realized I needed four walls, a home, for these fitness and wellness programs specific to moms.
Even with running this business full time, I consider myself a mom first and foremost. So how can moms (or dads) begin a business and still maintain the proper balance of work and parenthood?
1. Be passionate about your business idea.
You do not need to be an MBA or CEO to own a business, but you do need an idea that inspires you and one that you truly believe in. Your entire body should light up when someone asks you to talk about your business concept. You need to know who your competition will be and how your product or service is superior to theirs. Take the time to research what else is in the market and how your ideas can compete with these.
2. Get your family’s support.
As much as you may think of yourself as Super Mom, you cannot do it all. There are just not enough hours in the day. Everyone in your house should be supportive of your business, which means that certain household responsibilities will need to be shared such as cleaning, laundry, and carpool. Although your spouse may not be working for your business day-to-day, your partner needs to be supportive of your needs to be successful. Many times running a business is not a nine-to-five job. There are nighttime meetings and early morning conference calls. This may mean that your spouse has to get the kids in bed at night or dressed for school in the morning. Be honest about the help you will need. Share the experience together!
3. Run your business like a business – not a hobby.
This may sound silly, but I have met many mom business owners who don’t get into the nitty-gritty details of their business. At any moment, you should know the exact status of your business in terms of earnings, expenses, staffing, forecasting, production – all of it. If that doesn’t sound exciting to you, then you may want to hire someone to take care of these things for you. But if no one is monitoring the success of your business, you will end up losing a ton of money. Being passionate and loving what you are doing is not enough.
4. Learn from your mistakes.
You will make a TON of mistakes. Do not let that be a reason for you to give up. I call it the Britney Spears principle, Oops I did it again. Allow yourself to make mistakes; learn from them and grow. Don’t be afraid to tell your customers that you were wrong and will correct the problem. In the eight years I have owned my own business, I have made countless mistakes. I appreciate these mistakes because they have taught me a lot about myself and my business. It’s okay to be wrong.
5. Balance work and parenthood.
This sounds much simpler than it actually is, but remember you are a parent first and foremost. In my life before kids, I would pull a 60-hour workweek without batting an eye. Now that I am a mom, I need to curb the desire to put my face in a computer and shut out the rest of the world. I have to be home for the bus or to drive gymnastics carpool. I want to tuck my babies in bed at night, but that comes with a sacrifice to my work. I realize I may get behind in answering emails or returning phone calls, but at the end of the day, I get to raise my children and that fulfills me more than running a successful business.
Being a mom and a business owner has defined me. It is who I am. It is my life. I would not exchange one crazy, busy, over-scheduled day. I am proud of the community of fit moms I have created, but I am more proud that my daughters have gotten to experience it with me.
“Real Mom” Rachel Pustilnik is the founder and owner of Mom’s Treehouse in the West End and is a certified personal trainer with expertise in pre- and post-natal fitness. She lives in Henrico with her husband, Jack, and two daughters, Morgan and Olivia.