One of the top challenges women leaders face is re-entering the workforce after a hiatus. This is as much of a concern as asking for a pay raise and gender discrimination.
The most common career hiatus a woman may take is when she becomes a mother. Even in this era, women find themselves torn when it comes to balancing their careers and being hands-on mothers.
As a result, a young woman whose career is speedily progressing may even delay becoming a mother just so she isn’t forced to put her career on hold.
This leads us to the age-old question of why do we have to choose between a career and being a mother?
Mumpreneur Michelle Hon of The Chill Mom fame found herself faced with a similar dilemma when she became a mother six years ago. Instead of choosing between her career and being a full time mother, Michelle let her entrepreneurial spirit influence her decision and decided on doing both—and doing both well!
In addition to being a blogger, Michelle is an author, entrepreneur and baby planner to boot. Suppressing the urge to ask her that clichéd question, “How do you do it all and look so good doing it?”, what we really want to know is if entrepreneurship is an option for young career women to consider when they become mothers, and even plan for earlier on in their careers.
Michelle is always willing to help. After all, it is her desire to share her knowledge that started The Chill Mom.
Michelle couldn’t have chosen a better, more apt name for her business as her ethos is to actually be a chill mum and to live it in her day-to-day life.
“To me The Chill Mom has a message that motherhood doesn't have to be hard. You don't need to have all the things in the world to make your baby's life comfortable. Go back to the essentials and do what you have to do and still look after yourself,” she reminds fellow women.
According to Michelle, The Chill Mom started soon after she become a mother and got into blogging as a creative outlet and a way to document her motherhood experience. The hobby became a vocation when she realised that she had an innate desire to share ideas and things that she learned.
But there’s also a deeper reason Michelle chose to share her motherhood journey. “For me it is starting something that is bigger than me and lasts beyond my lifetime. Because of my mum’s short life, I wanted to create a legacy for my children, so that they consider me as a role model,” she confides.
Just six months after starting her blog, Michelle launched her baby planning business. “When I started my baby planning business, [my blog served] as content marketing for my business. Either way, I’m determined to create content that is helpful to others,” says Michelle.
Fun fact: the word “mumpreneur” was first used in an article that appeared in Practical Parenting in 1998. It then appeared in the Oxford Dictionary in 2011.
Originally, the word specifically described the phenomenon of new mothers who developed and launched a product or service based on their experience of being a new mother. Nowadays the the word mumpreneur is widely used to describe a mum-turned-entrepreneur.
Michelle says that by being a mumpreneur, she has been able to pursue her business goals while juggling being a mother. Here she dishes out some pretty awesome insider tips on being a mumpreneur—even those things no one will tell you!
It is hard work! Michelle clarifies, “It doesn’t mean we are working less hours, in fact, as business owners, we work longer hours than being employed, but we get to have lunch with our kids and attend to them when they are sick. We just work late into the night.”
Michelle says that more and more mums are starting businesses for themselves to have the flexibility of time. “You get to build something that is yours. you get to determine how much work you should take on or how big you want to grow your business,” she emphasises.
However, Michelle adds that time management shouldn’t be taken lightly. She warns, “Mumpreneurship is not necessarily easy. There are, of course, a lot of things you need to juggle when you own a business. You need to manage your time alone between sales, marketing and numerous other tasks.”
At first, Michelle found that her friends always came to her for advice on planning for a baby because she was one of the first to have children in her circle. Through her own experience, she always knew what advice to give them. The advice-seekers soon grew in numbers and Michelle realised that there was an opportunity to gain financially through her services.
Hence, the baby planning business became a natural progression from her blog.
“I looked into the baby planning business and I realised that it had taken off overseas. It is something people do as a career!” Michelle’s shares.
Transitioning into a business wasn’t all smooth sailing when Michelle started The Chill Mom, though, as there were several skills she lacked in. For instance, she didn’t know how to prepare a P&L statement or use HTML.
However, she advises, “I feel that even if you don't know something you can always learn it. There are a lot of tools that you can use online now. And if you really hate learning about a subject, you can always outsource it.”
Lately all we hear is how we need to turn our “passion” into a career. But the reality is that we grow and evolve as human beings and don’t have the same passion throughout our lives. We feel that just because we don’t have this one thing we love doing, we won’t be able to find a business idea that excites us.
Michelle agrees. “I struggled with the word passion for a long time. Because everybody says you need to do something you're passionate about.”
Instead of finding your passion, Michelle urges us to find our purpose. To Michelle, finding her purpose came naturally once she became a mother. This might also be an advantage mumpreneurs have over entrepreneurs in general.
It is a fact that motherhood changes us in many, many ways. For some, motherhood might even make their purpose in life clearer.
“When I became a mum I had a feeling that I was meant to be one. It became my purpose and what motivated me to start The Chill Mom. When I started the blog I had this objective to educate and share my experiences... and that hopefully [those experiences] will help others.
Michelle feels that mums who want to go into an entrepreneurship should think about what their their message and value to the world is.
Michelle adds that she has many friends who work high-paid corporate jobs they enjoy, “and that's fine,” she says. “Not everyone needs to go into entrepreneurship to feel fulfilled. If you are comfortable in your corporate life and if you feel like you're making a difference in whatever you're doing, that is fine too.”
“I’d like to think that I’m setting a good example for my children. The next generation of children, both boys and girls can see that women can achieve anything they put their mind into, along with being a mum,” Michelle smiles.
Part of being a mother is embracing the changes motherhood brings and not losing yourself in the process, and Michelle is one of those mums who is an ace at this.
Michelle sums it all up perfectly by saying, “It is sometimes motherhood that actually pushes you to do something you really love to do. You realize that time is now precious and part of your personal growth means leaving a legacy for your kids!”
What do you think about mumpreneur Michelle Hon's advice?
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