By Guest Author Erika Valdez
Mompreneurs have to juggle not only a family but also a business. Each mom does this differently, yet their approaches share characteristics that allow for this to be accomplished in an easier and more productive way. Today’s essay explores this final theme found in the mompreneur stories we have been reading. Just as flexibility, personal fulfillment and being your own boss, juggling is a key ingredient in the lives of all the women I have been interviewing. We all want to know how a successful mompreneur is able to juggle an endless list of things to do. Is it as glamorous as it is often portrayed in today’s media? Not so much, or at least not for everyone and not in every situation. Learning to juggle a family and a career can be difficult. Our final mompreneur describes its challenges and rewards.
Mompreneur Katrina Garnett, an innovator in software development and founder of companies such as CrossWorlds and My Little Swans, describes examples regarding her experience as a working mother. Just as many other mompreneurs in the series, Garnett had always dreamed of creating a successful company that offered services of the highest quality (something she has achieved through self-drive and hard work). Along with this, Garnett has always been an advocate on addressing the under-representation of women in the computer industry. She started the Garnett Foundation, known as The Backyard Project, to support this cause.
Prior to founding CrossWorlds, Garnett served as vice president and general manager of Sybase. It was there where she first came across a company that had a progressive attitude which allowed her to juggle her career and motherhood. During her fourth year at Sybase, she encountered a corporate culture in which starting a family was not frowned upon. She also saw firsthand how the company positioned itself as a pioneer on providing nursing areas for families. The company’s corporate culture was becoming more receptive to having both a family and a career. This outlook allowed Garnett to raise her first child in a flexible environment.
Garnett was pregnant twice while running CrossWorlds. Familiar with the many responsibilities involved in having a family, she made it a point to create a strong corporate culture in which having a family was understandable and respected. This environment allowed her to balance the responsibility of raising her children (now ages 15, 12, and 10) while tending to her company. “While working at Sybase and CrossWorlds, it all worked out to my advantage and to my needs as a mother and a business executive. Due to the support I received from both companies, the challenges I faced were manageable,” Garnett said.
Her newest company, My Little Swans, allows her to travel with her children if she chooses to do so. Heading an Internet business has enabled Garnett to balance the never-ending busy demands of running a company. “Juggling the task of running a company and caring for the children has a lot to do with being part of a flexible and supportive organization. One has to also be very organized when raising a family (the older they become, the more demanding things get) and running a business,” Garnett explains. She is a true believer of a widely accepted idea that women are very good at multi-tasking. She also tells me that having an Internet business provides the flexibility needed to balance mompreneurship. A vast majority of mompreneurs would have to agree with Garnett. Each day we are seeing the growing trend on internet businesses created by women raising families. Mompreneurs are now taking advantage of social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter. A good example is Twitter Mompreneurs, a group formed by the Mompreneur Cafe Network, which connects like-minded moms.
The fact remains that there are not that many companies with a progressive view on the importance of families and balancing family and career, as the ones described above. Could this be another reason why these moms turned to entrepreneurship? Probably. Garnett herself tells me that she is not so sure if working somewhere else and not owning her own company would have allowed her to experience the freedom that enabled her to juggle her life the way she did. She feels very fortunate to have done it all.
This segment is a part in the series : Mompreneur Stories