Being an entrepreneur means jumping on the scariest, most exciting roller coaster ride of your life. For women, hanging on during those drops and not-so-gradual descents means you absolutely must have confidence, even when you really don’t; balance, even when it doesn’t exist; and enough self-awareness to send yourself to the corner for a time-out. And I should know — as Founder and CEO of Parent Tested, Parent Approved (PTPA), I — along with my online community of 85,000 moms — test products to make my life, and the lives of busy moms, easier.
By Sharon Vinderine
Want Balance? Ask.
Being a mom is my greatest joy in life (despite what my kids might tell you). As any mother quickly realizes after the birth of a child, maintaining true balance in your life is impossible. This is a very important fact to grasp as entrepreneurial women — mom or not — because no matter how hard you try, you will always feel guilty about something while trying to build and manage your business. The trick to overcoming this guilt is to ask for help. For some, asking for help is against the rules because if we can’t do it all by ourselves then we must be failures, right?
Wrong. Very wrong.
Our partners, our kids, our parents, our colleagues — being there for us is part of their job. When my kids were in school full time, I turned to my husband — who is also an entrepreneur — and asked for help. I simply couldn’t “balance” building my business and carpool and school activities and kids’ appointments and life all at the same time. For the last 10 years, we’ve been splitting all of that — balancing the balancing act, if you will. We absolutely would not be able to do what we do without the support of each other and our extended family. Don’t think you need to do it all — ask for help!
Fake It Til You Make It
When it comes to building your business, demonstrating confidence, even when you don’t feel confident, is key. Since I started Parent Tested, Parent Approved, I’ve been on television more times than I can remember. But did I have any television experience or connections when I first started my business? Nope.
Confidence in my idea is how I sold it to television producers and, eventually, to my team, to partners, and to clients. If you have true confidence in your idea then you’ll be able to sell it like nobody else can, and if I wasn’t so confident, every time there’s been a downturn, I would have quit. But because it’s something I truly believe in, I keep going.
Write It All Down
Something that has helped me tremendously as a female entrepreneur is journaling. I know what you’re thinking: I need to write down all my feelings? Admit when I’m scared? Admit that I’m wrong and don’t know what I’m doing?
Let’s get real. As entrepreneurs, we’re always ‘what-iffing,” always anticipating the worst case scenario when, the vast majority of the time, none of those scenarios ever actually happen. What if instead of looking at the worst case scenario, we reimagined that same situation into an opportunity? Journaling is what helped me foster that mindset, one that sees every change as an opportunity instead of a challenge.
Can it be overwhelming or intimidating to journal? You bet. That’s why I recommend committing to doing it at least every six months. Or when something bad happens, so you can help yourself process what’s happening. Then, take an opportunity to reflect six months later on how bad the situation was and where you are now.
To the (Cozy) Corner
As women, we can often lose ourselves in our work, in our families, and in our relationships. But staying true to your authentic self, the woman beyond the business/kids/relationship, is a crucial component to being a successful entrepreneur. Everybody needs a little bit of time to themselves — a self-imposed time out, if you will. For me, it’s that time slot at 5:30 in the morning, when I begin my day. It’s my opportunity to enjoy some peace and quiet and to do the things I want to do. Nobody else can infringe upon that time because, honestly, no one else is interested in being up at that hour.
Whether it’s exercise or reading or doing some other interesting thing, carving out some time for yourself every day will keep you grounded in who you are as a woman and as a human being. It might seem like a waste of time at first — Hello! Work is calling! — but you will thank me when you’re finally sitting in a cozy chair with that romance murder mystery novel you’ve been meaning to read for six months.
Yes, the future is female, and doing all we can as female entrepreneurs to nurture our own minds and businesses can do nothing but further elevate that future for all of us.
Sharon Vinderine is the founder and CEO of Parent Tested Parent Approved, an online resource parents consult for the best products for their families.