I used to tell people that my company was my baby. I nurtured it from day one, saw it come into the world and have done everything I can to make it successful. There have been ups and downs, and (like any parent), I’ve adjusted my methods as I try to find the best way to raise (grow) it. I’m proud of how far it’s come and I have big hopes and dreams for its future.
My company is still my baby, but the relationship has changed a bit now that I’m an actual mom. These days, I find myself grateful for my experiences as an entrepreneur. Running my business taught me key lessons that prepared me for some of the toughest aspects of motherhood.
First, in business, pivoting can be absolutely critical to your survival. If you’re going down a certain route or have a particular idea in mind about how things should be done, it’s important to recognize when something’s not working and you need to change course. The defining factor in the success I’ve had so far with my company was our pivot from offering a consumer-facing product to employing a business-to-business model.
Just as I had to pivot to find a new route toward achieving my original vision for my business, I needed to successfully pivot into a new model for feeding and bonding with my child.
Similarly, sometimes you have a plan, just like your initial business plan, for how motherhood is going to go. In my case, it was really important for me to breastfeed as much as possible and I felt personally let down when I had difficulty in the beginning. This wasn’t the start to motherhood I had planned. But rather than give up altogether, I pivoted. I made a new plan to continue trying to find new ways of achieving my goal, while not getting upset if this new plan didn’t work out either. Instantly, a weight lifted off my shoulders, because I knew I had the versatility and determination to adjust to whatever circumstances motherhood threw at me. Just as I had to pivot to find a new route toward achieving my original vision for my business, I needed to successfully pivot into a new model for feeding and bonding with my child.
Second, being an entrepreneur is a lonely road. No one celebrates the highs or feels the lows as much as you, and it’s tough to find employees who share your level of passion. To combat this loneliness, it’s important to surround yourself with a community of family, friends and mentors – anyone and everyone who can cheer you on, distract you temporarily or provide some words of wisdom.
Being a new mom can be lonely in a similar way. This was especially true for me in the early days when I had my hopes set on breastfeeding exclusively. My husband was definitely supportive and encouraging, but how could he truly know what I was going through? Biologically speaking, he would never have to worry about breastfeeding or feel as though his body was letting him down at a crucial moment. Similarly, what comfort could friends without children provide? They didn’t know about the struggles of balancing my demands as a new parent and as an entrepreneur. They hadn’t experienced the type of life-altering change that I had.
So I sought to build a community and find my support network as a new mother just as I had in my early days as an entrepreneur. I reached out to old friends who had recently had kids, including someone I hadn’t seen since middle school almost 20 years ago. I looked up support groups of other first-time moms who were also trying to breastfeed near my neighborhood. I leaned on my own mom, who could recall her difficulties as a new mother and remembered how her mom acted as a strong beacon of support when my older brother and I were born. Like the network of fellow entrepreneurs and mentors I built to help me in my work, I built a network to help me get through the difficulties of being a new mom.
I still have a lot to learn in both my roles as an entrepreneur and a mother, and there will be plenty of twists and turns along the way. One thing I can say for sure is this: now that I have two babies, I’m thankful the first one taught me some of what I needed to know when the second came along.