Juggling business and family – journeys of trial and triumph on the path to success.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have done it all over again–and started a lot sooner.

By the time I launched The Founding Moms, I’d already built two businesses.  Those businesses were in industries that, for the most part, involved men.  Lots of men.  That’s not to say that it was bad to be surrounded by men, or that I wished otherwise — it was what it was.  And because of those industries, I had friends in many places…none who were women running businesses and raising kids at the same time.

The Founding Moms came to me out of a desire to meet said mom entrepreneurs.  I put a call out to them via Meetup.com in the hopes that a handful of women would show up for coffee and dish about the ins and outs of momtrepreneurhood.  A handful of women showed up for the first meetup.  The second brought several more.  Six months in, there were two-hundred members online.  Two-hundred members! Was I onto something here?  I was determined to find out.  I launched a Founding Moms’ Exchange in Chicago…and then in Los Angeles…and then in Austin…and just kept growing.  At the time of this writing, there are currently Founding Moms’ Exchanges in 28 cities around the world, including Canada and Australia.

Non-members often ask me why I started a playgroup for moms who have businesses on the side.  Others think that I was hoping to launch yet another traditional networking group.  I hoped to do neither.  I’m an entrepreneur, one who happens to have kids.  And I like to be an informed entrepreneur–one who self-educates on a regular basis.  When I launched a Founding Moms’ Exchange in Oak Park, it was–and remains–my hope that a group of women comes together to educate and advise each other on how to better build their businesses.  Kids are welcome to every meeting, and we work right through the noisemakers.

This doesn’t mean that the kids are secondary to our businesses.  But in the context of our Exchanges, we’re entrepreneurs first.  That said, when a woman goes out into the working world, entrepreneur or not, is she guilt-ridden?  I have yet to meet one who is not.  Was I tormented about working when my firstborn arrived?  Yes.  Did I constantly bounce between parenting and working and feel guilty about one while my attention was on the other?  Absolutely.

Two years into my firstborn’s existence, my working guilt was transformed…by my two-year old.  My daughter was driving around in a toy car with her friend while I was trying to finish a conference call.  I thought they were playing “house.”  Upon opening the car door for her friend to get out, I heard her say, “So, do you want to drive with me to the UPS Store?”

I’ve been alright ever since.  I realized that my kids don’t think I’m ignoring them every time I have to make a phone call.  It’s ok for me to go off to meetings, to see clients at the house, or to spend an hour at the computer.  If you ever meet my firstborn, you can ask her what she wants to do when she grows up.  Along with “eat chocolate frosting,” she’ll tell you that she wants to “work like Mommy.”  Flattery gets you everywhere.

Recently, I read some pretty neat stats.  Daughters of employed mothers have been found to have higher academic achievement, greater career success, more nontraditional career choices, and greater occupational commitment.  They’re more independent, particularly in interaction with their peers in a school setting, and score higher on socioemotional adjustment measures.  Sons and daughters of employed mothers have less traditional gender-role attitudes.  And employed mothers’ daughters see women as more competent in the traditionally male domain than homemakers’ daughters.  (Source: http://parenthood.library.wisc.edu/Hoffman/Hoffman.html.)

How relieved was I to find backup support?  It makes The Mom Entrepreneur Juggle a heck of a lot less guilt-ridden and far more productive.  Had I known this stuff years ago, I would have started a lot earlier–and left my guilt at the hospital.  Live and learn, right?


Jill Salzman




One Comment

  1. Andrea Ott said...

    Jill, I’m so glad you shared your story. You’re an inspiration to a lot of moms out there, myself included. Thank you for being an awesome working mom!

    Sep 06, 2011 at 2:39 pm

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