I’ve only been a mom for 10 months, but I can already see how being a parent requires grit, perseverance, and a lot of love. Those qualities are surprisingly similar to the ones you need in order to be an entrepreneur. I had to learn how to cultivate enough for both, when I founded a company and had a baby all in the same year.
This wasn’t exactly the timeline I had planned. I found out I was pregnant three months after I launched the company I co-founded, Ollie—we make freshly cooked, human-grade food that’s tailored for dogs and deliver the meals to homes across the country. Ironically, the pregnancy disrupted my life in the same way I hoped Ollie would disrupt the pet food industry.
When I envisioned what life was going to be like the first year after my company’s launch, I imagined long days and nights—the highest of highs when things were going well and lowest of lows when they weren’t. In many ways it felt like my baby, and I was excited to spend the next year similarly to that first—all in, all the time!
And then I found out I was having a real baby. While I knew I always wanted to have kids, I had planned to get Ollie to a much more mature stage before having them and was concerned about not being able to invest as much time and energy into my company.
…being a parent requires grit, perseverance, and a lot of love. Those qualities are surprisingly similar to the ones you need in order to be an entrepreneur.
Thankfully, being pregnant wasn’t as difficult as I anticipated, though I worried my pregnancy would have repercussions for my company. When we were raising money for our Series A round, I purposely wore baggy clothes to meetings because I was worried investors would take issue with a pregnant co-founder. Luckily, that was not the case—but with only 17% of VC-funded startups led by women, how could I be sure?
Fast forward to when I had my daughter, Sasha—less than a year after we had launched. I now had to meet the emotional and physical demands of a baby, along with the financial pressure of owning a company. My first collision with the reality of being a mom came when Sasha decided to arrive three weeks early.
The idea that I could “do it all”—take care of both babies, my company and my child—all at once was revealed as a total fallacy.
Post-birth, I almost immediately got back online. Ironically, the day I gave birth was the same day our Series A funding closed. The funding was great, but it also meant we had to put the gas on growth and a lot of initiatives that were on hold got the green light. Given how young of a startup it was, I felt the need to continue working and keep tabs on everything throughout my maternity leave.
The first three weeks I felt like I had it all: I had a rhythm with the baby and was in love with this tiny bundle that was in my life. I thought I was conquering multitasking by taking phone calls and doing voice-translated emails while breastfeeding. (My team only found out later why there were so many typos!)
But things quickly crashed. The adrenaline that kept me going for the first few weeks ran out, and the denial that this baby was not going to change my life wore off. My baby who had slept all day for the first few weeks suddenly woke up and was much more demanding. And my exhaustion and postpartum emotions came tumbling out. On top of that, my husband had to resume work travel just a few weeks in and the nanny I had hired was not working out and I needed to find someone new. The idea that I could “do it all”—take care of both babies, my company and my child—all at once was revealed as a total fallacy.
So, nearly one year later, here are five things I learned that helped me survive my first year as an entrepreneur and as a parent.
I… spent time focusing on what kind of mother I wanted to be instead of running around attempting to get everything done.
As a working parent, I’ve learned that adaptability—to employees, to the marketplace, and to customers—is key to growing a business (and a family!)
Gabby Slome is the co-founder and chief experience officer of Ollie, a national company that delivers freshly cooked, human-grade food that’s tailored to each dog’s nutritional needs. A former equestrian, Slome has had a lifelong passion for animals, and founded Ollie to improve the lives of dogs and revolutionize the $30 billion pet food industry.