From 1997 to 2013, the number of woman-owned businessesincreased by 59 percent. That’s a pace one-and-a-half times faster than the national average. Many of these businesses are run by a new breed of “mompreneurs” who are juggling the needs of the business with the needs of their family.
While much is written about the challenges of simultaneously raising a family and building a business, moms also enjoy some unique advantages when it comes to being CEO. Of course, keep in mind that the following is a generalization: not every mom will have all of these qualities and many women without children and men who are primary child raisers may share a few:
1. Moms Are Expert Multitaskers
A mom can dress a screaming baby while planning out the grocery list and fielding questions from her oldest child. She can simultaneously manage schedules for the babysitter, carpool, and after-school activities, all while remembering the school permission slip and doctor’s appointment.
You’d be surprised at how similar this is to running a company: moms are built to handle the countless daily tasks required of an entrepreneur. They can balance the multiple roles and multiple priorities with relative ease.
2. Moms Emphasize Relationships
In the office, women value the strength of their relationships more than men. Connections between male colleagues tend to be based on transactions: one thing is traded for another. Yet women typically report being happier at work when they have strong connections with co-workers and build long-term relationships.
While this applies to co-workers, it can also apply to vendors, customers, contractors, and employees — the essential building blocks for a successful company. In the eyes of many female business owners, employees are crucial members of the team; they aren’t just people who work for them in exchange for a salary. In this way, women can build trusting working relationships that translate into lower employee turnover rates and higher employee satisfaction levels.
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3. Moms Can Stop and Ask for Directions
It may be an over-generalization, but most women know that when you’re lost, you’ll probably get to your destination a lot faster if you stop and ask someone for directions. Over the ages, new moms have gotten support and advice from prior generations and experienced moms in the community.
As entrepreneurs, women won’t shy away from asking for help. They’ll ask the “stupid questions” needed to get up to speed quickly on their industry, their customers, and all the nuances of running a business.
4. Moms Understand the Importance of Life Outside Business
While mompreneurs love the businesses they’ve created, their biggest priorities will always be outside of the office. While this traditionally may have been viewed as a liability in business, it can actually be a huge asset for the entrepreneur.
Why? For starters, many moms will strike a work-life balance that’s necessary for warding off entrepreneurial burnout. In addition, having priorities outside of work can give moms a healthy perspective on running a business; it removes some of the pressure that leads to analysis paralysis. You won’t see many moms fussing over every last detail on the website or press release; sometimes, you just need to get a task done and move on to what’s next.
5. Moms Can Network Like Nobody Else
An entrepreneur’s networking ability can make or break any business, and moms have a natural urge to share their experiences with other moms. They bond over achievements and challenges, letting other moms know what products or techniques work and which don’t. In short, moms share.
Just take a look at the rapid rise of mommy bloggers (more than 3.9 million in 2010) to understand the sheer volume of discussions taking place on social media mommy groups and forums across the Web — not to mention those offline conversations at the playground, grocery store, and pediatrician’s waiting room.
6. Moms Adapt
Life for a mom is full of change and unpredictability. You can read as many books and take as many classes as you’d like, but nothing can fully prepare you for life with a teeny-tiny newborn. Then once you’ve gotten used to the infant stage, you now have to deal with the terrible twos, tweens, and teen years. As a mom, you need to stay on your toes and never get too set in your ways — because what worked so well yesterday may not work at all tomorrow.
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because entrepreneurs need to be just as nimble to succeed. Success in business often boils down to your ability to adapt to change: your markets, technology, customers, and competition are never constant. A good entrepreneur, just like a good mother, won’t be afraid of change. She’ll embrace the mess and the chaos and know the key is to just keep moving forward.
Nellie Akalp is a passionate entrepreneur, small business advocate and mother of four. As CEO of CorpNet, a legal document filing service, Nellie helps entrepreneurs start a business, incorporate, form an LLC or set up Sole Proprietorships (DBAs) for a new or existing business.