Read about three women business owners who applied what they learned as parents to their professional careers to find success.
For parents who run their own businesses, parenting skills, and business expertise go hand in hand. For example, being prepared is critical, whether it’s having a well-stocked diaper bag or doing research before a client presentation. And, no one learns the art of negotiation like a parent with a stubborn toddler. Of course, just like every business is unique, so too are the family challenges and personal circumstances of the people behind them.
That’s why there isn’t only one measure of success, and each person’s definition is equally as valid. Here, we share three stories of exceptional and inspirational businesswomen who also happen to be great moms. Glean inspiration from how they’ve been able to leverage their MBA (maternal business acumen) and rely on their support networks to grow their businesses while raising kids.
Mom of two, owner of The Academy of Performing Arts schools, and a consulting firm for small businesses
Tuschl launched her first dance school business at the age of 18 in her parents’ backyard, turning that company into a multi-million dollar business she still runs today. “I was a small business owner for ten years before I ever became a parent, and although doing both can have its challenges, some of the parenting skills I have learned have immensely helped me as a business owner.”
As a parent, Tuschl can better relate to the target audience for her performing arts school business. “I didn’t really understand my clients’ needs until I became a mom myself.” Tuschl, a best-selling author and small business consultant, was also recently named Wisconsin’s Small Business Person of the Year for 2019.
Her parenting skills:
Reward and acknowledge good behavior. “As a business owner, it’s easy to nitpick and micromanage,” Tuschl says. But as she learned with her kids, emphasizing the positives has a better outcome. “When you see something you appreciate from your employees or clients, keep bringing up the good stuff, and more of it will follow.”
Don’t try to do it all. While Tuschl says she felt a bit of mom guilt the first time she dropped off her kids at daycare, she soon realized it made her a better mom. “I had to remember that my kids are doing something fun. They’re enjoying themselves. But then when I pick them up, I could focus on them. Phone away, computer away,” she says. Focusing on quality moments together is key to building strong bonds, no matter the circumstance.
Stacey Brown Randall
Mom of three, started her own HR consulting firm
Brown Randall’s business journey in Charlotte, NC, has evolved, both to accommodate her growing family, and to address a specific business need in human resources. Today, her work focuses on sharing a referral strategy through an online program and in-person trainings with other small business owners, solopreneurs, and business development professionals.
Her parenting skills:
Team communication and visible list-making. Schedules rule the day—at home and at work. “You have to have a game plan and be clear on your MITs – Most Important Things,” Brown Randall says. To accomplish her “MIT” s, she relies on a command center in the kitchen and constant communication with her husband. “We list the monthly schedule, weekly meal plan, weekly chores, clips to hold homework, and a place to put school communication, invitations, etc. The schedule keeps us on the same page and minimizes day-to-day of who’s doing what today? type questions,” she explains. Brown Randall models the same effective system at work. Not only is it efficient, but it’s a good reminder that communicating priorities and leaning on a support network is vital.
Invest time in your people. Making your kids (or your work team) self-sufficient can pay dividends, but it requires an up-front commitment. “When teaching a kid 5th-grade math, especially when you don’t like math yourself, you quickly learn to break things down to the simplest form and allow the learning to build step by step,” says Brown Randall. Teaching a teammate to do something for the first time works the same way, she adds. “Break it down, go step-by-step, and double up on the patience.”
Mom of two, launched her public relations agency 20 years ago from the delivery room
“My son and company celebrate the same birthday,” says Power, who runs her business, The Power Group, in Dallas, TX. While Power was in labor, her husband called home to check their voicemail and heard a message from one of Power’s former clients who was looking for help with a new business venture. Because it was important to Power that her new parenting life also left room for her entrepreneurial goals, she told the client she was happy to tackle the opportunity, after her maternity leave. Six weeks later, Amy showed up with her son in his baby carrier, and The Power Group began.
That’s not to say that all new moms need to jump right back into their business and master nighttime feedings all at once. It’s just what worked for Power. Finding the right balance will be different for everyone, so be sure to do what’s best for you.
Fast-forward to today, and her company works with national brands, including Hyatt Hotels, Red Bull, and Borden Dairy.
Her parenting skills:
Give your kids (and staff) a budget. Just as it’s a great lesson to give kids a small allowance and teach them how to make smart decisions with money, Power says doing the same with employees can provide autonomy and build trust. “I recently gave my employees their own budgets to manage so they can handle marketing, buy things for the office, and create company culture events that are important to them,” says Power.
Focus on education. We all want to give our kids the best support possible so they can do well in school or develop their talents, whether it’s hiring tutors, seeking online tools, or helping them make flashcards to study for a test, says Power. Do the same for your employees,” she says. “Offer financial coaching or hire a business coach. I have a culture of learning because you should never stop.”
Ask any business owner who is also managing a household, and they’ll tell you that the struggle and the juggle are real. But as these mompreneurs have shown, applying parenting skills to your business (and vice-versa) can be a more fruitful approach than treating those two areas of your life as opposing forces. Just be sure to find time for some self-care and lean on your support network, too.
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