When you make the decision to become a mom, there’s no lack of unsolicited advice thrown your way. But when you’re a mom-to-be starting or already owning your own business, some advice isn’t just welcomed — it’s necessary. Prior to COVID-19, women started 849 new businesses every single day in the United States. In the past 20 years, women-owned businesses have increased by 114%, and those businesses are growing at a rate that’s 2.5 times higher than the national average.
But even though more women are working outside the home and starting their own businesses, they’re still shouldering the majority of the child-rearing and household responsibilities. Entrepreneurs who are also moms face a number of unique challenges that their male counterparts rarely have to contend with — and that’s exactly why the best people to learn and grow from are those who’ve been there, done that, and have a thriving business to show for it.
HeyMama asked the following moms/business owners what advice they’d give a pregnant entrepreneur. From learning how to quiet the noise of social media to simply moving forward with a business plan, these moms know what it means to grow a business and a human simultaneously. After all, they’re strong as a motha’.
Dr. Ivana Poku, Ph.D, author of “Motherhood – The Unspoken” and Founder of Mumsjourney
“In the flood of advice you will be overwhelmed with from each direction, always make sure to follow your intuition. Your intuition will always give you the best guidance and advice you will need along the way.”
Bella Middleton, Creative Director and Founder of Norfolk Natural Living
“My number one piece of advice, is simply to start. I truly believe we can find excuses why not to do something so easily — if you want to do it — just do it. Once you start then the hardest part really is out of the way. You know what you are doing, now you can get on with doing it. Start small, build your website, get your story together, enjoy the process and keep learning — there are so many resources online — anything you don’t know you can learn. So just start.”
Lucille Whiting, Founder of Sophia Alexander Gold Fingerprint Jewelry
“One of the things I had to do really early on in my journey was to stop comparing myself to everyone else. It was hard to feel like I was being left behind and it seemed like everyone else was progressing with their lives, their work, and their businesses so much faster. Social media creates this illusion that we all have this life-thing sorted, but you have to stop a second and check yourself.
You’re being shown a snapshot of what people want you to see. Nobody’s ‘that’ perfect. Focus on making a little progress every day, if you can. Even if it’s just 10 minutes. Try your best not to get overwhelmed. You really don’t have to do ‘all the things’ at once. Inevitably, life will sometimes get in the way — sometimes for days or weeks at a time. Control the things you can and don’t get too stressed about the rest.”
Holly Pither, MD and founder of Tribe PR
“My main piece of advice would be — even when setting up –- try to avoid working for free or contra deals. I think it’s important to value your services properly, and as such, I have tried to avoid contra-deals and reduce my costs to try and get my foot in the door of a new industry. Start as you mean to go on and people will take you more seriously.”
Lenka Lutonska, mindset and business strategist, mom of three, author of “Energetic Selling & Marketing”
“My biggest piece of business advice is to ask for help. Expecting a baby brings a lot of changes to our daily routines, and for those women, who would like to grow their business while raising a new baby, the ability to ask, and ask a lot, is a must. So take this as an opportunity to strengthen your asking muscle. Ask for help with house chores. Ask for more support from your loved ones. Ask for what you need, shamelessly. And remember to extend asking into your business – ask more: for that sale, for that referral, for anything that will help you thrive.”
“I currently have a newborn and a 2-year-old, and this is my business advice: Utilize technology to make it work for you. After becoming a mum and working around my daughter, and then working through my second pregnancy, I found that opening a laptop to do some work wasn’t so easy. So I had to think creatively in terms of how I get my work done. A big thing that worked for me was utilizing my phone for the tasks I could manage. For example, I drafted chapters of my story into my iPhone notes. I answered emails via my phone and managed all my social media outreach and content through the relative apps on my mobile. A huge game changer for me recently has been dictating into my phone. Every phone has this functionality. This meant I could write blog content and other copy while breastfeeding my newborn. This meant I’ve got so much more done than I previously would’ve been able to.
So for any pregnant entrepreneurs, when you find you’re just not feeling like firing up your laptop to do some heavy work, see what technology can work for you. Dictating into my phone and scribbling notes really helped me accelerate in my business. Expectant mums may find something that works for them that allows them to get enough rest whilst also remaining on top of their business.”
Vhari Russell, founder of the Food Marketing Experts
“Be kind to yourself, first and foremost. Don’t go back to work too soon, as you are no good to your customers or your family if you are not strong and well.
Ask for help if you need it. Look at outsourcing admin to VA.
Make sure you rest, as the early days are tough. I went back to work six weeks after my first daughter was born and it was too soon.
Find excellent childcare. We opted for a childminder who is amazing and has looked after all three of my daughters and is like a member of the family, reminding me of school events and supporting us all.
Have time out, even if it’s 20 minutes for a walk. You need time to clear your head, formulate thoughts, and work out answers to problems and challenges.
Trust your gut. You know what is right for you, your family, and your business.”
Laura Trendall-Morrison, Founder of The GameChanger Consultancy
“My one piece of business advice for mums-to-be making the same journey would be to use the time to think about the big picture and strategic direction. [Pregnancy] is a great time for creativity and also for building your online networks from home, when you may have less energy. In my first year, I built business relationships between bump and breastfeeding. That helped me grow in the long run.”
Alexis Marz, Co-founder and co-CEO of MMP
“Plan. Plan. Plan. Have a support team and plan in place for when you go into labor. Have someone else ready to respond to emails, pay invoices and salaries, etc. You might think you can cope with it all (and you probably could) but once you have that beautiful baby in your arms, you’ll want to focus on that. Having a newborn is an all-consuming endeavour and it is a very precious time. Give yourself a break. Set things up so you can have a guilt-free period of time to devout your attention to your new arrival.”
Stephanie Dunleavy, Managing Director of Soul Analyse
“I was five months pregnant in November, 2016, when I launched my jewelry collection called the I AM range. I guess what helped me was that I didn’t have a financial safety net: the last of my money went into the first lot of stock and I had no choice but to work my butt off to get it going. Three and a half years later, the company is doing amazing. We are on target to turnover 1 million pounds this year, and four million in 2021.
So if I had one piece of business advice for expecting mums, it would be this: It is totally natural to feel uneasy at times, during your pregnancy, about your career. Every mum has experienced that pang of worry about juggling a career and family, but what you’ll find is that you needn’t worry because being a mum makes you even more driven, stronger, and resilient than ever before. Why? Because you’re doing it to create a better future for your little one, and there is no better motivator.”
Christine Serdjenian Yearwood, Founder of UP-STAND
“I’d say if I have one piece of business advice for a pregnant entrepreneur, it’s to have researched and prepared for several scenarios for how to work on your business after the baby comes. So many people think they know how it will go and plan for one thing (working from home with the baby, a nanny, daycare), but you don’t actually know what your baby will need or their temperament or how you will feel until the time comes. You might want or need to change how you work with your baby, and knowing what your other options are (and at what financial and socioemotional costs to you and your family) relieves a lot of stress at a time when you are already going through a lot of life changes. It enables you to switch things more quickly if they aren’t working out how you envisioned or expected.”
Elly Simmons, co-founder and director of Herringbone Kitchens
“I think you really worry that you have to have everything perfect and wrapped up by the time you go on maternity leave, but when you own your own business there is no such thing as having everything finished here is always another project you need to work on.
When I was 9 months pregnant with Finn we were working on launching our first online range with a big name interior designer. It was very time consuming and [there were] so many firsts for us. It was something I started two years prior with the designer, so was very much my project. But in the end I had to let go and trust my wonderful team to lead on many aspects of the launch.
I think trusting your team, and knowing that while no one will do it like you, is OK. I always feel so responsible for my employees: they all have families and mortgages as well, and I want them to succeed. So it is hard to take time out without feeling guilty, but really having a baby changes everything and the only person that needs you in the beginning is that new baby. My tip would be to turn off your phone for those first two weeks, soak it up, and enjoy those cuddles.”