Updated: Aug 4, 2020
10 reasons mamma entrepreneurs fail at business
If you are reading this, you may be an entrepreneur, or possibly want to venture down that road one day. At the moment, I am almost two years into my entrepreneurial journey, and I must admit, my goals have been rather modest. Even so, my most modest 'wins' haven't come easily. I feel I have a huge advantage over most (business experience), but for everything that has worked in my favour, I can tell you many things that haven't. Oh no, it hasn't been smooth sailing, I never expected it to be.
Before jumping in, I had cautiously researched and read into the 'mamma biz' game (it is my personal passion after all). I've spent a long time (most of my career) growing other peoples business, and assuming that this market was the same as others is not something I would do. In fact, after a lot of research, I actually came up with too many reasons not to coach the mamma biz market. More importantly, reasons I shouldn't be starting my business came to the surface too. There are reasons why the mamma's who desire to become self made successful business women fail. I am no different from those of you reading this. Consider the following 10 points -
Juggling more than entrepreneurship: Launching a business and the pressures it entails along with motherhood can sound somewhat incredulous. Being an owner of a start up means being (and thinking) all things at once, and it isn't easy for most. Add two difficult roles together, and it is bound to entertain a little mayhem!
Mamma Guilt: It doesn't matter what we do, the moment we do not provide our children with our undivided attention, the guilt buzzer goes off! Most women 'feel bad' if they are focusing on work related activities, that results in them not spending time with their children. Attention will consistently be divided between their kids and their business.
Lack of support: This is a big one! Most family and friends do not take a woman's attempt to start a business seriously, hence leaving Mamma feeling dubious and unsure. Most success stories have an underlying theme of encouragement from spouses, partners, parents, friends and yes - their children.
Lack of Funding: Mothers typically start their own business as a way to accomodate parenting priorities. This also means that they go in with whatever savings can be spared to get it moving, and they use contacts to build a business. Also, many mother based businesses find it difficult to obtain business loans with dependents and current home and car loans. Investors see it as a gamble.
Battling Stereotypes: Really the crux of the above points 1-4. It is all about the perception that a mother is not a 'real' or 'capable' businesswoman. A woman can be perceived as an entrepreneur, but for some reason, when a female becomes a mother they loose integrity as a business owner. It can be viewed (by both sexes I might add) that with motherhood as a top priority, creating a business cannot come in as a credible, close second priority? Women can cause these stereotypes to befall them too. However, is it all or nothing, for anyone, all the time?
Competitive Mindset: Okay, this one isn't just for the mamma biz market, it happens across all business landscapes. Essentially though, for a mother struggling with her business venture, it always seems like the best reason to give up. Focusing on the competition in the marketplace, instead of your own personal innovation and creativity, is a recipe for disaster. Thinking that you have to 'beat' the rest of the other small businesses in your sector (especially those run by other Mamma's like you), is energetically draining and not a good place to focus. Competing with yourself is far more challenging, but far more satisfying.
Unclear Business Goals & Objectives: You have a baby, and find juggling your paid role is just getting too difficult. You take the initiative and try and make it work for you by starting your own business that works around your family. But then, you realise how much harder it is! You are pouring time and savings into your business, only to find that you are starting to sink. What makes this happen? Lack of passion (i.e. this was supposed to be convenient). Entrepreneurism is founded on the principle of passion and vision. It is then grounded with solid goals, plans, analysis and reflection.
Concentrating on Income over Growth: Most women go into business to maintain a form of income with the flexibility of parenting needs. So they focus on the cha-ching! Soon they are finding they are working very hard for not as much coin as they had anticipated. Focusing on business growth will still allow an income, but will also create opportunities for investment and opportunity.
Unwilling to Pivot: Sometimes, businesses organically (or easily) flourish, that is awesome. But external factors can play a part and sales start dropping. So are you prepared to change, alter or transform what your business does in order to continue on with your success? Businesses (especially owners) need to become agile and flexible to maintain their business. This often raises the 'too hard' discussion for mothers who run businesses, and ultimately can sink them.
Time: Mothers who run a hustle on the side are time poor (duh). How mothers utilise their business time is extremely important. You want to work smarter, not harder, right? As mothers become stretched from pillar to post, they find that the juggle becomes too hard, they don't manage their business in a consistent fashion, and ultimately give up way too soon (see point 7 re Passion).
After all the research done, all the reasons found in terms of why mothers in business fail, my passion as a coach to working mothers is stronger than ever. You see, the above 10 points can tear me down, just as much as it can you. I am determined to help as many mother based organisations turn each of the 10 points listed on its head, and prove that entrepreneurial mamma's are serious ventures!
If you recognise any of the above, the main solution in order to achieve your version of success as an entrepreneurial business woman (with kids to boot) is gain assistance. Find the support suited to you and articulate your idea of success and happiness. Investing in your growth is investing in your families growth too.
If it's time to get serious about your work life mamma, book a complimentary Introductory Session today:
Vanessa is a professional business & career coach with experience in marketing & communications, small business operations, organisational culture & learning. She is currently undergoing further training & qualification with the LCA Australia and the International Coaching Federation. Vanessa has recently completed certification as a Wellness Facilitation Coach. Most importantly, she is a mother of two, teaching them to see the world with compassionate eyes and to act in kindness.