Raising a family might be more similar to running a startup than most people would realize.
by Eva C. Reder
"We can meet on Thursday at 9 a.m. at my house," suggests Elena Krasnoperova, founder of Calroo Family Organizer.
I know that by then she'll have written the article we agreed to publish that day, dropped her two kids off at school and finished a phone call with her developers.
How does she do that? While most founders I know still sip their morning coffee at 9 a.m., Krasnoperova has already earned herself a head-start by then.
Krasnoperova is one of the founders I met that led me to the conclusion that mothers are just better entrepreneurs.
Science backs me up: Studies by the Kauffman Foundation have shown that venture-backed companies led by a woman create 12 percent more revenue. Also, women-led companies are proven to be more resilient to financial and market crises. Why is that?
The truth is that raising a family might be more similar to running a startup than most people would realize. If you think about it, the list of skills that transfer from parenthood into startup life is longer than you might have expected.
Mom entrepreneurs need to learn how to delegate.
With multiple responsibilities on their plates, mothers are often the CEOs and COOs of their families. Delegation is one of the most important survival skills for working moms and startup founders alike. While a young single founder might still be able to scrape by without a team by simply putting in crazy work hours, mom entrepreneurs need to learn how to delegate much earlier. Delegating the grocery list to a family member might be more similar to delegating the design of a logo to a freelancer than most people would think.
Having a family forces you to think practically and prioritize the right things.
Kelly and Ron Curtis started their music academy just weeks after their baby son was born. Within six months, they hit their revenue goal -- the baby forced them to think practically and was the biggest catalyst in prioritizing revenue over vanity metrics.
Juan Felipe Campos, partner at Google Launchpad's Manos Accelerator explains, "I find myself constantly using Ron and Kelly's Curtis Music Academy as a perfect case study when working with early stage startups. The No. 1 problem I see with young entrepreneurs is a lack of practicality and intention with how they spend their time. These founders would rather work on a new feature of their product or spend time behind a spreadsheet than working on sales. Parent-led startups don't have that luxury."
They know how to get a lot done in little time.
Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a mother of a 2-year-old while she is chasing her toddler around the restaurant? I have. It's admirable to watch. Maria Jose Palacio, founder of Progeny Coffee and mother of a 2-year-old, has taught me what mastery of multitasking really means. During the last two years of her business, her daughter has been with her at every business meeting. This time spent together has not hampered the success of her business. On the contrary, within a few months her fair trade coffee has made it into the shelves of five major retailers, she landed a partnership with a major tech company and Progeny launched an online subscription service.
How do mothers like Palacio manage to do so much in such a distracting environment? They know how to carve out focus time for themselves and get a lot done in those cherished hours, while other founders often waste hours and hours in front of their screens checking emails or scrolling through their newsfeed. Palacio told me that on average she gets about four to six hours of work done a day while her daughter sleeps or is taken care of by her husband. She shared that by now she gets more done in four hours than she used to do in an eight-hour work day by focusing on the most important tasks first.
They have a stronger sense of vision and know when it's time to pivot.
Having kids sets completely new priorities in your life. Your "why" suddenly becomes clear and strong: You want to create the best life possible for your family. Building a company on the side is extremely hard. You need to constantly justify the huge time and effort in front of yourself and your family. "Do I really believe in my business that much, that I'd rather spend time in the office than with my family?" The moment this question can't be answered with "yes" anymore, mom founders are ready to pivot instead of dragging this decision out due to pride or lack of direction. This makes mom founders faster in recognizing when it's time to pivot.
They know how to inspire and motivate a team.
Mothers and CEOs have another trait in common: They are always in sales mode. Both are under constant pressure to inspire, motivate and entertain their team, investors and clients. Mothers are true masters of negotiation and sales. Which is harder: Selling a rebellious kid on the fact that cleaning up his room is actually a fun game, or selling a big enterprise client on signing a contract with your company?
Nathan Harris, founder of Ease, shared with me that many of the skills he applies in business nowadays remind him of tactics that he learned from his mom, a single mother of two. Although she has never been an entrepreneur her advice on productivity, conflict management and leadership have been essential in his journey as an entrepreneur.
Running a business and raising a family is definitely a challenge. However, lessons learned from rockstar female entrepreneurs in my network have taught me that the endeavor is possible with a little help from outside, great time management skills and lots of persistence. If you are thinking about starting a business but are scared of what that would do to your family, consider the fact that many of your parenting skills may actually transfer over into entrepreneurship.