I’m quite the accidental entrepreneur and have a long, long way to go. I loved my advertising job but my husband’s nomadic banking career and 2 kids ensured that geographic and monumental change always seemed around the corner. I found myself needing to start something that was immune to location, time zones and structured work hours. That’s where First Moms Club (FMC) began and the increasingly popular Mompreneur tag happened or as younger, cooler start ups call it – the new ‘Aunty brigade’ trying to be cool.
Starting and running a business post motherhood is tough, cause let’s face it, dads in our part of the world are just about waking up to the idea of equal parenting. Even if both husband and wife are working or in our case, both running start ups, stuff to be done around the house and the kids just happens to become the mom’s responsibility. However, before this becomes a feminist rant, there’s a big upside that we often don’t appreciate – that start-ups take a while to get off the ground and generate revenues. For some of us, as was the case with me, we can afford to take time off, our ventures can take longer to build steam – something most of the guys cannot afford to do. And, some businesses like communities just need time to blossom and hurrying it up can end up killing it.
Digital businesses make flexi hours a lot easier – you can work from home, send emails with your kid in your lap whilst still in your PJs but apart from that they’re as tough as any other. So why do we do it? Cause it’s insanely satisfying, especially if you’re passionate about what you’re chasing, it drives you like nothing else! Structured jobs so often box you in – not so much because glass ceilings are the problem as much as large organizations are just too cumbersome and increasingly seem to be getting lesser and lesser done.
Having said all of this, over the last few years, I do believe start ups and tech businesses have been romanticized a bot too much. Beyond the flexi hours and working off bean bags are insane uncertainties and the sense that you’re running as fast as you can but haven’t moved an inch!
Here’s some of my most important learnings that I think apply to all of us mompreneurs:
– It’s a huge plus to believe in the purpose of your idea because when the shit hits the ceiling (and it will), that’s what keeps you going.
– Sacrifices I’ve hated making are reduced time with friends, family and sometimes even ignoring my kids but it’s a trade off that just has to be made.
– So often we women are judged by the relations in our lives – a daughter, mom, sister or wife. So, while setting up and running a business gets you known more and more for who you are and what drives you, relationship tags aren’t leaving you anytime soon. Perfection on every front is impossible and chasing it is likely to bring unhappiness.
– I believe our kids can be our allies – when they will see you working hard there’s a greater chance they’ll imbibe the same qualities as they grow up (I have no research to back this, just my belief !) I think it also reduces any sense of entitlement and a realization that you’re going to have to work for what you want just like dad and mom both do.
– Finally, if it’s a calling, you owe it to yourself to chase it. I read a beautiful line somewhere that goes “There’s nothing more dangerous for children than the unfulfilled dreams of their parents”
I guess it pretty much sums it up.
Ruchita Dar Shah is the founder of First Moms Club which just raised funding from Singapore based fund