Why Moms Make Unicorn Entrepreneurs
This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with Kumon. Thoughts and opinions on moms as unicorn entrepreneurs are, of course, my own.
I love being both a podcaster and an avid consumer of podcasts. And I have been obsessed with my friend/colleague Morra Aarons Mele's new podcast Hiding In The Bathroom and Other Unlikely Secrets of Success -- partly because I have mad love and respect for Morra, partly because I have been deep in my “down with the patriarchy!” space lately (and Morra’s guests have included really incredible women entrepreneurs), and partly because even as an entrepreneur of nearly 10 years, I know I have lots to learn. I always come away from Morra’s episodes with a new nugget to chew on.
Morra’s recent Hiding In The Bathroom interviews with Julia LeStage (Boundary Setting) and Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner (Parenting as an Entrepreneur) left me with an even greater “up with mom unicorn entrepreneurs!” feeling than usual. Which was quite timely because I was already planning on writing something about entrepreneurism thanks to an editorial partnership with Kumon. Let me share a bit about Kumon first and then I’ll go into my thoughts about moms as unicorn entrepreneurs. Trust me -- it’s all related.
You’ve probably seen Kumon in your neighborhood -- I say probably because Kumon has 26,000 franchise units worldwide (1,500 in the United States). Kumon is an after-school program that guides students through a method that helps them develop critical, self-learning math and reading skills. They also make awesome maze books (Violet is obsessed with them!).
Anyway, the reason Kumon is relevant to my thinking about mom unicorn entrepreneurs is because one concern that comes up a lot in my conversations with women is that they love the idea of starting a business in a way that works for their family system but the idea of starting from scratch is scary and overwhelming. And well, YES IT IS. I mean, it’s awesome and empowering to be a completely independent entrepreneur but at times, it’s also exhausting and overwhelming and I wish desperately to have more help. So, my point is, being a franchise owner with someone as established as Kumon gives you the benefits of being your own boss while also having existing infrastructure -- specifically, brand awareness (marketing is way easier with brand awareness!), a business plan (awesome if you are -- like me -- clueless about business plans!), and training and support (yay, support!).
So, if you’ve been dreaming of owning a business, want to change careers, want help with growth and infrastructure, and want to focus on a business that potentially aligns with your kids needs and works for your family system/schedule, check out Kumon. They’re planning on expanding considerably in the Boston area and would love to chat with you.
Why Moms Make Unicorn Entrepreneurs
And now, let’s talk about why moms make unicorn entrepreneurs. It’s relevant to note that these thoughts coalesced while I was listening to Morra’s podcast, which I listened to after walking Violet to school and during my run loop home, before settling into a day packed with conference calls and multimedia work. Everything is connected!
1. Moms have stamina.
One of the reasons Morra’s Boundary Setting episode particularly resonated -- both generally and in the context of thinking about Kumon -- is that guest Julia LeStage aptly likened start-up entrepreneurism to breastfeeding: you keep feeding and feeding your baby (human or business) and it’s pretty much never going to say stop unless it falls asleep. Moms need to have a unique brand of stamina that translates both to home and work demands.
2. Moms have no choice but to be mind-blowingly efficient.
LeStage talked about how there’s no better worker than a part/time working mom in the sense that you have limited time to deal with things, and know you are choosing work over home while you’re working and so you GET THINGS DONE. It’s totally true, and it makes me think back to when I was hiring my creative assistant Laura. When I was talking to Asha about my final candidates she said something along the lines of, you know, this woman has 3 kids -- that in itself is a skill that translates to work efficiency. Truth.
3. Moms have no choice but to narrow in on a solution and make split decisions.
Related to point #2, in the Parenting as an Entrepreneur episode, Alicia Ybarbo said something that really stuck out to me -- that women get very good at narrowing in on solutions and making split decisions because there is basically no time to labor endlessly over camp options or put up with working with someone crazy when there is a less crazy alternative.
4. Moms find creative ways to make things happen.
At home moms need to be creative every single day, whether it’s figuring out how to make dinner out of nothing, or wrestling with calendar Tetris. Same goes for the workplace.
5. Moms realize the healing power of a good hide or cry.
When I used to work at MIT I would get down on myself when I needed to go hide in the bathroom or have a good cry. I looked at it as a sign of weakness. However, I now feel totally differently about it. Without fail, whenever I allow myself to have a good hide or cry, I come out the other side with the emotional valve released and ready to move forward.
6. Moms have the emotional capability to self-evaluate, be self-aware, and adapt.
The thing about parenting is, it’s both awesome and it pushes you to your limits. You have limited bandwidth so you have no choice but to know your limits, ask your village for help if need be, and get granular about how to execute the day to day to keep up with the demands of family and work. And there’s also something to be said for the emotional capability to self-evaluate, be self-aware, and adapt as needed.
Bottom line: Moms clearly are unicorns in the day to day, but also in entrepreneurial pursuits. If you’ve been pondering a career leap or starting a business, check out Kumon franchising opportunities. And also be sure to tune in to Morra’s Hiding In The Bathroom and Other Unlikely Secrets of Success podcast.