By Guest Author Erika Valdez
Last week we saw that many women entrepreneurs start their own businesses partly because of the flexibility that an entrepreneurial life can offer. This week’s essay explores another benefit of entrepreneurship that is perhaps less easily measured but is no less important: the chance to embark on a journey towards personal fulfillment. Being an entrepreneur does not just provide the opportunity to earn money and build wealth, but also gives mompreneurs a sense of self-confidence and personal achievement.
This search for personal fulfillment was a common theme among the women I interviewed. Many of them viewed it as an important incentive to become an entrepreneur and a salient aspect of their new careers. Entrepreneurship gave these women the flexibility to work from home and spend time with family, but it also allowed them to reap personal rewards and accomplish personal goals.
Notably, many women struggle to achieve an adequate balance between their personal needs and the job of being stay-at-home moms. It can be daunting and discouraging. Successful mompreneur Angelica Menefee, president of Trampoline, faced some of these challenges. “As a stay-at-home mom, my needs and desires came last—this is the nature of the job! Because the job goes unpaid and under-appreciated at times, my self-confidence suffered a bit. It was difficult assigning a dollar amount to my work, my products and my time,” Menefee says. Yet, her experience as a mompreneur has provided her with personal fulfillment—which she has found to be a journey that has made her and her business stronger.
Another mompreneur who believes that personal fulfillment is often the result of the hard work and dedication that entrepreneurship demands is Julie Murphy Casserly, the founder of JMC Wealth Management in Chicago, Illinois. Casserly is also the author of an award-winning book and a financial contributor to CNBC’s “On the Money.” Having ventured into entrepreneurship at a very early stage in her career, this mompreneur has achieved many accomplishments. “It is important to make sure that one’s soul is being filled,” she told me. She has been able to run a profitable business that she is strongly passionate about.
Another successful mompreneur is Jennifer Blakeley of Alphabet Photography. Blakeley’s love for entrepreneurship was sparked by growing up in an entrepreneurial family. “For me, it is something that has been a part of my life since I was a child. I think that if a woman wants to leave her career to become a stay at home mom that is fantastic…however, it’s not the right choice for everyone. Everyone is different and has different needs and wants. I will never ‘not”’ be an entrepreneur. I am the happiest when I am working on a project that I love, and being successful doing it,” she tells me.
Stephanie Fohn, CEO of WhiteHat Security, agrees. This MIT graduate has always been an entrepreneur—starting from the age of five when she used to sell all kinds of things around her neighborhood. Starting off as a venture capitalist was not a satisfying position for her, or one in which she felt she was being most effective. She was ready to make a career change to something that would give her a sense of achievement. When beginning as an entrepreneur, she received great advice from her mother who told her, “The most important thing is to be yourself and do what makes you happy. If you are not happy, then your children will sense that unhappiness in you. What kind of role model can you be for them, if you are not happy with your own life?” Fohn views becoming a mompreneur as a personal choice, even as it does seem to be more of a trend. Above all, a woman has to be happy with who she is and with the life she lives.
Fohn’s experience as an entrepreneur has given her many rewards. Every day she experiences and learns something new. She sees immediate feedback for her hard work in the success of her company. “For me, being an entrepreneur is an integral part of who I am, so I know I would not be happy without my work. My children bring me joy, but the creativity that comes from starting something and seeing it grow and prosper also brings me joy—a different kind of joy. Being an entrepreneur is the only “job” I’ve ever had that’s never bored me,” she says.
The sense of personal fulfillment that they derive from their work is one of the many key ingredients to these mompreneurs’ success. The stories about show how entrepreneurship can offer women—and men—opportunities to expand their careers and achieve personal success, and most importantly, find a source of confidence in their accomplishments and triumphs.
This segment is a part in the series : Mompreneur Stories