For most of the past 30 years, women have had to make a constant juggling act between the competing demands of career and family. It can be hard to have both a challenging, exciting career and also have time to raise kids and have a busy family life at home.
Many women have felt that they’ve had to make an “either/or” when it comes to career and family: either they stay focused on their careers, even if that means never having a family (or having fewer kids than they would like, later in life than they would prefer); or they give up their careers to raise their kids (or accept part-time work or a less-challenging career track because of the demands that their career would make on their family life).
I don’t like the idea of having to choose between career and family. I don’t think women should be forced to sacrifice their financial independence and future earning power in order to raise a family, and I also don’t want women to feel like they can’t have a family unless they abandon their careers. I want women to truly “have it all!”
Does that sound unrealistic, or too much to ask? I don’t think so. You see, I’m a happily married mother of four kids, and I also love my career. How did I get to “have it all?” I started my own business. I believe that the best way for women to find career satisfaction and fulfillment, while also having the flexibility and freedom to raise a family, is for more women to become entrepreneurs.
Whether you want to start your own consulting business, start a small retail shop, become a private chef or caterer, provide daycare out of your home, or be an online freelance writer, designer or developer, there are many opportunities today for women to start a home-based business that will give you the income you need while ensuring that you have the right work-life balance to be there for your kids.
Why is being an entrepreneur so great for women who want to have it all?
- Flexibility: When you have a traditional corporate job, they expect you to be at the office every day from 9-5 (or 8-4 or whatever your standard hours might be). But if you’re a busy mother of young kids, you know that those hours of the day don’t always allow for your best productivity. There are doctor’s appointments, illnesses, sleepless nights, preschool activities, and many other things going on in your kids’ lives that can make it difficult to work a standard 8-hour shift. Being a “mompreneur” makes it easier for you to be there for your kids when they need you most, without having to worry about keeping up an arbitrary amount of “face time” at the office each day. Instead of having your productivity limited to an 8 or 9 hour stretch of the day, as an entrepreneur you can be productive whenever you most need to be and want to be. You can squeeze in some extra work early in the morning or late at night. You can check e-mail on your smart phone while in the doctor’s office waiting room. You can be a “mom on the go” and also make a living.
- Challenge: I love being an entrepreneur. I cannot imagine ever working for someone else! There’s nothing more exciting and more challenging and stimulating to your mind than building and growing a business. Too often, women feel that they have to settle for the “mommy track” in the corporate world – setting their sights lower and giving up their chance at higher-level jobs because they need more flexibility. As an entrepreneur, you don’t have to make the choice between challenge and flexibility. Every day when you’re running a small business, you get to think about new and interesting problems and figure out how to solve them. You get to help your customers with all kinds of issues, and you’ll learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible.
- Fulfillment: What could be better than earning a full-time income on your own terms, while also having enough time to be with your kids? Don’t get me wrong, life as a mother and an entrepreneur is not easy – I work really hard; usually at least 50 hours a week. But I’m only in the office for 30 hours a week, and the rest of the time I can be productive while also being home with my kids. But I don’t mind working hard, because I get to see the results of my work every day – and my business enables me and my husband to provide a good standard of living for our family.
So if any women out there are worried that they have to choose between “family” and “career,” please know that this is a false choice. I don’t feel that I’ve had to sacrifice anything or compromise anything important in my life – I’ve been so fortunate to “have it all” as a happy entrepreneur, wife and mother. You can have it all, too. And I hope you’ll find entrepreneurship to be as fulfilling and rewarding as I have.