Girl Power: How Being a Woman (and a Mom) Can Give You an Edge in Business
When my first daughter was born, I remember being stunned that the doctors and nurses were actually going to let me take this tiny, helpless being home with no training or practical knowledge of how to care for her. Could they not see how hopelessly unprepared I was?
Sure, I had read all the books and prepared for motherhood the best way I could. But all the prep in the world is not quite the same as the actual experience. The stakes were quite literally life and death — and I was terrified.
Of course, like most new moms, I muddled through and learned on the fly.
In many ways, motherhood is like a boot camp for starting a business. There’s a lot at stake, and running a business doesn’t always go as expected, either. Entrepreneurs have to be innovative and adaptive. They must learn along the way, as well. Here are five reasons why being a woman (and mom) can give you an edge in business:
1. Multitasking and juggling skills
Moms are used to juggling activities, and multitasking quickly becomes a part of our daily routines. It’s not too different when running a business. Unexpected eruptions can occur in a business (not unlike they do with kids). They’ll appear in the form of customers, employees, vendors, or tech issues to deal with, and it’s not uncommon for any or all of them to need your attention at the same time. Since moms are used to carrying on multiple discussions or completing several tasks at once, they’re prepared to absorb, prioritize, and accomplish any task thrown at them during the workday.
2. Great intuition
Problem-detecting and problem-solving often come naturally to moms. It may have something to do with that first year (or longer) when babies can’t tell us what hurts or why they’re crying. The term “mother’s intuition” is a common one, and for good reason. Science has even come to support the idea that lasting biological changes take place in a pregnant woman, enhancing her intuition. Just as these skills are applied to parenthood, they can also be valuable to the entrepreneurial environment.
Thinking and analysis skills are critically important when launching or growing a business — but when it comes to success, intuition plays a role, too. Some of history’s greatest leaders and business successes wouldn’t have accomplished what they did if they didn’t allow a bit of intuition into their decision-making processes. Remember, intuition isn’t just a “feeling,” it’s also informed by an accumulation of experiences you’ve absorbed over the years. The knowledge you accumulate during motherhood is like none other and can easily be mined for your professional life.
3. Negotiation with compassion
Moms constantly have to negotiate when communicating with their kids and, as a result, they’re pretty adept at it. Since women tend to be unbiased and honest in general, when it comes to negotiations, they instinctively try to arrive at the win-win solution. The quality of being tough but fair can go a long way toward establishing a successful business. No one wants to feel they aren’t receiving a good value for their money (e.g., your customers) or proper compensation for their work (e.g., your vendors or employees), and women can often find a natural solution in such situations that works for everyone involved.
Men, on the other hand, tend to be more competitive and less prosocial, which doesn’t necessarily promote the win-win approach; they also may lack flexibility when it comes to certain negotiations. In a business, if you want to succeed, you need to “win” — but you also have to “win” over consumers and nurture a loyal customer base. An excellent ability to negotiate goes a long way toward accomplishing this.
4. Nurturing instinct
Speaking of nurturing, if kids are to grow and thrive, they need their parents’ help. While men are actively playing more hands-on roles in their children’s lives, women are still the primary caretakers, which means they really have to hone their nurturing skills to help their kids grow up happy and healthy.
Similarly, for a company to succeed, it needs attentive caretaking. Thus, nurturing is a perfect skill to cultivate for seeding a business. And who better than a mother to give a new business the care it needs? Women entrepreneurs are capable of nurturing whoever they work with: clients, employees, and vendors. Many mom entrepreneurs believe becoming a mother made them a better boss.
5. Inventive thinking
From the time they begin to talk, kids will question or give their opinions on pretty much everything. They see the world differently than adults do, and they won’t settle for the standard answers, evasions, or platitudes that will placate adults.
A woman’s ability to be inventive comes in handy when facing mom-sized tasks, challenges, or decisions. For instance, let’s say a favorite toy breaks or a sibling fight breaks out: Moms have to use their creative side to fix the problem. Women who have raised or are raising children often come to appreciate inventiveness more than men do (a shout-out to those men who are primary caretakers — they’ve probably grown this aspect of themselves, too!)
A full 40% of new entrepreneurs are women, an increase of almost 3,000% since 1972. That’s huge! Many of these women are starting their businesses to increase their ability to take care of their families. As childcare costs continue to rise, many moms see launching a startup business as a smart solution; running their own business enables them to set their own rates and establish a schedule that works for them and their families. This way, they can spend time with their families while empowering themselves to earn the money necessary to provide for their children.
The autonomy and freedom that accompany being your own boss are feelings like no others, so why not do it? As a woman and mom, you have exemplary skills and attributes to bring to the marketplace. These qualities will become the strengths that form the backbone of your winning, successful business.