Before I was a mom, I used to think that the best time in my life to start a company would be before I had kids, but I never felt ready for it until I went on maternity leave. Three months after giving birth to my first son, I gave birth to my first startup. It turns out, motherhood was the best preparation for entrepreneurship that I could have asked for.
Women make great entrepreneurs. In fact, studies by the Kauffman Foundation and the Dow Jones company have shown that venture-backed companies led by a woman typically produce higher revenues by 12% and launch on a third less capital. Additionally, women-led companies are proven to be more resilient to financial and market crises than their male counterparts.
Why is it, then, that less than 10% of startup founders are women? You may think it is the lack of role models, professional network barriers, and limited access to funding. While these are all true, I believe that the main reason is that most women are also mothers, and they are afraid that they can’t juggle motherhood with the intensive entrepreneurial life.
As a mother and entrepreneur myself, I’m here to tell you this: Being a mother actually qualifies you more to become a successful entrepreneur. Raising your own startup is hard, and so is being a mom, and I believe that as mothers we acquire many of the skills that are essential as we become entrepreneurs.
Here are the top five skills I learned since having my first child that have helped me become a better entrepreneur:
You know what I’m talking about. It’s time to get out the front door and your kid can’t find his favorite T-shirt. He won’t wear anything else. You help him look for it and the baby starts screaming from the other room. You know that you’ll be late for your meeting and reach out to your phone to text your boss that you’ll be late, only to find a text from your babysitter that she’s sick and won’t make it today. You’d be surprised how similar this is to managing a company.
You think it’s hard selling your solution to a potential customer or negotiating a deal? Try selling vegetables to a stubborn five-year-old! Believe me, if you have kids, you must already be a great negotiator. Closing deals is a piece of cake for you.
As an entrepreneur with minimum financial resources, the ability to come up with creative strategies, access other people’s knowledge, connections, and resources is crucial. As a mom, you are used to asking your friends, family, and even strangers for their help and advice, and they usually come through.
You might ask your neighbor, "How did you find that awesome and cheap cleaner?" or "How did you acquire your second-hand baby equipment?" As an entrepreneur, knowing how to crowdsource is crucial—and the same applies to motherhood.
The best entrepreneurs are smart, resourceful, and hard working. However, knowing how awesome we are, we sometimes develop big egos and can become arrogant, over-pushy and—well—annoying.
As the person managing your family, you know that being smart is not always about being right. There are times to win an argument and times to back down if it serves your long-term interests. Being able to put your ego aside while managing your business can be crucial when you want to get people on your side.
Many startup founders describe entrepreneurial life as a roller-coaster. One day you get a great review in the paper or a big business opportunity appears, and the next day an investor backs down or your system crashes. You go from flying high to wanting to throw it all away. But successful entrepreneurs don't give up.
While a startup founder always has a choice to give up and throw in the towel, a mother can never give up on her child. One day your kid makes you a card at school and you are crazy in love with them, and the next day they trash the entire house just before your mother-in-law comes to visit. However, you would never shut them down, even if you wanted to in your secret moments. So you learn to weather the storm with each new challenge that arises.
If you ever considered starting your own venture and were afraid that motherhood might hold you back—consider how your newfound skills will push you forward—and jump on the entrepreneurship train.
—Yael Kochman is a mom +1 (and #2 is on the way!), an experienced entrepreneur and graduate of the first batch ever of Google campus for moms program. After leading her own startup she is now Head of Marketing at Roojoom, a successful startup revolutionizing the way we present & share information online. Follow her @yaelkochman.
[Image: Flickr user Ben Pollard]