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In 2013, Heike Söns, a communication specialist by profession, found out that she was expecting a baby. The announcement of her pregnancy to her bosses caused her to lose her job.
Therefore, when her daughter was born, Heike decided to start her own business to continue working, but without missing this stage of her life as a mother. He partnered with Olga Schiaffino, also a communicator and mother of two, who operated a corporate events coordination agency.
Their first product was a bazaar called Momzilla Fest , with which they promote and promote the work of other entrepreneurial moms, being the link between them and potential clients. They promote it through their Facebook page and, at the same time, it functions as a meeting point for their social network community. The bazaar takes place twice a year in Mexico City.
In 2017, the entrepreneurs opened Momzilla.com.mx , a portal where moms can find a directory of services (their second source of income), a blog with content related to motherhood and, soon, an online store. Thus, its business model consists of managing advertising for entrepreneurial moms to offer products or services, among which are furniture cleaning, medical care, food for breastfeeding women and baby products. “We currently have a base of about 1,000 women entrepreneurs throughout the Republic,” says Heike.
Heike Söns and Olga Schiaffino / Photo: Entrepreneur en Español
Heike’s case is very common. “75% of my 80,000 candidates are moms and most do not work due to lack of support when having their children, either due to the lack of credibility in flexible work or because a macho culture prevails in certain organizations,” he says. Ana Lucía Cepeda, founder of Bolsa Rosa – a platform for virtual headhunters and a flexible job bank for women – who became a mother four months ago.
Entrepreneurial moms like Heike are mostly between 23 and 40 years old. Their businesses tend to be rather traditional (such as coaching, therapies, gourmet activities, marketing and multilevel networks, agencies, marketing agencies, network management, etc.) due to the inherent flexibility that allows them to have greater control of their businesses and family. , and even operate from home.
The Failure Institute points out in this regard that “women need to plan a day where, in addition to attending their business, they combine housework and childcare. For this reason, from the beginning they choose businesses that allow them freedom of schedules and mobility ”.
Victoria 147 –organization that seeks to inspire the future generation of women leaders through training and community– points out that in its network of entrepreneurs the five main lines of business are services (27%), fashion (12%), beauty and wellness (11%), art and design (10%), and food and beverages (8%).
Regarding the reasons why they undertake, they are, in the first place, to increase or maintain their income (15% of women are the main breadwinner of their families), followed by personal improvement (66% want to start a business out of pride of herself), independence and an intellectual challenge, as well as by detecting a neglected opportunity or niche.
An interesting fact is that 70% of their earnings go to the community and their family, and that 100% consider the work-life balance important.
Another aspect they share is that they generally have few breaks, since they take up their free time to attend to their business. “While their children are in school or daycare, they visit clients, produce, close sales, make meetings, see suppliers and solve problems because after 3:00 pm they change roles and are full-time moms,” says Blanca Sánchez, Director of Spacioss Coworking , a collaborative workspace focused on women, located in the Narvarte neighborhood of Mexico City.
In addition to discrimination, entrepreneurial moms face other obstacles such as lack of training and access to financing, limited time, and less access to opportunities.
If you are a mother and you are about to start or already have your own business, surely you have also faced these adverse conditions. Therefore, from the hand of stories of successful mompreneurs , here are some keys to succeed as a mother and as an entrepreneur.
1. LEAD YOUR BUSINESS BY OBJECTIVES
Whatever their entrepreneurial mommy schedule, the reality is that living through this fusion gives them a kind of superpowers, like multitasking, improvisation, and quick problem solving. “Now I make better use of my time,” says Ana Lucía Cepeda, from the Stock Exchange. my family.”
This entrepreneur reveals her ace up her sleeve: orient her business by objectives, not by the hours you spend in it. “Working like this contributes to improving productivity because you know what you have to accomplish and it doesn’t matter where you are or when you do it, but rather that you deliver it completely when you must,” he says.
This way of working allowed his company to attract the best candidates to its ranks, most of them also mothers and with high managerial profiles, former employees of large corporations. “We all govern our times as needed because we work for results. And we help ourselves with technology, holding virtual meetings once a week to review how we are doing and how we can support each other. “
Thanks to this approach, because she knew how to delegate and coordinate with her partner and team on time, the entrepreneur was able to take several months of motherhood to enjoy the arrival of her first-born, Diego. “I wanted to be able to leave calm that nothing bad happened and that the business continued to flow,” she says. “And if something came up, I just went online or did a video conference.”
Ana Lucía Cepeda / Photo: Entrepreneur en Español
2. IDENTIFY OPPORTUNITIES WHERE OTHERS DO NOT SEE THEM
Another of the special powers that momprenenurs acquire is a finer vision to detect opportunities where they did not see them before. The reason? “Children are their main source of inspiration: they see something in them or in their behavior that generates an idea or an improvement”, Victoria 147 points out.
Such is the case of Betsy Eslava, who decided to start “a business for my daughter” when she could not find schools that taught ballet for babies. “The only option was four hours away from my house and it was very expensive,” he recalls. Thus was born in 2003 Baby Ballet Marbet, a place of initiation to dance for children from one and a half years of age, which also teaches sports such as gymnastics and Tae Kwon Do.
After 15 years, Betsy has broken two great clichés with her business: ballet as a strict and rigid discipline that is only for girls, since 10% of her students are men, and the belief that dancing requires a certain type of skill. body, by receiving all kinds of students, even if they do not have the typical complexion of a dancer. “We want children to fall in love with culture, music and live art by making ballet accessible and taking away the stuffiness,” he says.
Betsy Eslava / Photo: Entrepreneur en Español
In addition, Betsy offers the opportunity for other moms to undertake and, at the same time, enjoy their children, through the Baby Ballet franchise. “Most of my franchisees have careers and are mothers,” explains Betsy. “I want them to grow up and go hand in hand with their children within the corporate culture,” he says.
To date, the brand serves 10,000 students per month in its 75 branches in the country, five of its own and the rest under the franchise format. In addition, the business crossed borders and has nine international branches located in Colombia, Costa Rica and Chile. And he has, among his plans, to conquer the United States, Canada and Europe.
She has not achieved these achievements alone, as she has formed a team with her husband Mario Loaiza, who is in charge of short and long-term planning and the relevant aspects of the franchises. In addition, he has surrounded himself with external consultants and millennial professionals, including a fashion designer, a production engineer, marketers, economists and educators, who are in charge of identifying trends in the market.
3. SEARCH AND CREATE SUPPORT NETWORKS
The fact that an enterprising mother can share with her partner and family the responsibility of taking care of her children and the house can make a difference in the survival or failure of a business. Support systems extend outside of the home and also extend to the business level. One of the ways to do it is in the hands of a partner who leads, together with the entrepreneur, the administration or operation of the business. According to Victoria 147, 56% of her community undertook together with a partner.
On the other hand, there are organizations that bring together women entrepreneurs and that offer spaces for linking with mentors and allies, such as the aforementioned Victoria 147, the Mexican Association of Business Women (AMMJE), Spacioss Coworking (40% of its users are mothers) , Bolsa Rosa (which has linked some 5,000 women to flexible jobs) and Momzilla .
Recently, Heike and Olga, from Momzilla, along with Mónica Martínez (also a mother), funded the El Encanto del Caos project through Kickstarter, a scrap-book of activities that seeks to empower and inspire other moms in raising their children. The campaign exceeded the funding goal and closed with 108% of the planned quota.
Momzilla’s growth has been organic thanks to the support of its community that has woven, with its intelligence and creativity, ideas in favor of the platform. “That has not only made the journey easier, but also very emotional,” explain its founders. Both consider that although there have been challenges and difficult moments, one of the great satisfactions that this stage has given them is seeing not only their children and their company grow, but also the businesses of each entrepreneurial mother who places her trust in them.
Within their future plans, the members seek Momzilla to consolidate itself as the largest community of mothers in Mexico, in addition to expanding the Momzilla Fest to cities such as Querétaro, Mérida and Cuernavaca.
“Children demand a lot of attention, but companies also because they are like another child who must be constantly fed,” says Heike.
4. BE CONSTANTLY TRAINED
Improving the conditions in which they undertake is undoubtedly one of the responsibilities of the ecosystem for women, who represent 51.4% of the national population and 37.8% of the workforce. This is highlighted by the Entrepreneurship of the Association of Entrepreneurs of Mexico (ASEM). In addition to creating jobs and contributing to the economic growth of the country, female entrepreneurship allows them to have labor and economic independence, even more so if it is business with mothers at the helm.
Juana Ramírez, co-founder of ASEM and also an entrepreneur (founder of Sohin ), points out three factors that stop female entrepreneurship: equal access to financing, not having a more even terrain in family and domestic tasks, and lack of training and training to reduce risk aversion and face running their own businesses.
Blanca Sánchez, from Spacioss Coworking, agrees. “Women have to train to better contribute to the family and to the business, and today there are already an infinite number of tools to do so. Training is an investment, it is knowledge empowerment and this means more sales, business, clients and prospects. “
Cecilia Valdés knew that by training she could broaden her horizons and embark on a shift that appealed to her as a consumer. When she moved with her husband to Canada in 2009, she became interested in the spa business, but since she was not clear about how it operated, she decided to study Cosmiatrics and a specialized diploma in this service, investing 12 months in it. During this period she met Michael Beresford, founder of the natural cream brand Moor Spa, and was won over by his products, as they did not contain chemicals, artificial colors or aromas.
Back in Mexico in 2011, Cecilia decided to start with a concept that would merge the commercialization of these creams with the experience she had acquired in the spa industry. He collected a million pesos between his own savings and loans from friends so that his “first child” was born: Moor Spa + Nails, located in Las Lomas, west of Mexico City. A month later it opened a second location in Plaza Carso, in the same area of the Mexican capital.
Cecilia Valdés / Photo: Entrepreneur en Español
5. ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE BALANCE BETWEEN FAMILY AND BUSINESS
By 2014, Cecilia and her husband and partner were looking to open another branch in Santa Fe when an event came to put her to the test: her first pregnancy. They were complicated months that resulted in the premature birth of his daughter Alejandra. However, thanks to her strength and the team she had formed in her business, both her motherhood and her company went ahead.
Today Moor Spa + Nails offers beauty services under the hotel model, providing a “lodging” service in which some 2,000 guests are attended each month by certified cosmiatricians, with high hygiene standards. In addition, it handles the sale of about 100 branded products and a line of premium enamels.
Its menu of services, for both men and women, includes manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing, machinery and equipment, tanning, eyelashes, gel and varnish. And it offers a spa concept for girls.
Currently, with her three children (one newborn) and eight units (three of her own, one in partnership and four franchises), Cecilia faces the constant challenge of finding the balance between running the business and taking care of her little ones. “Being an entrepreneur means taking away your fear and you learn to trust your instinct. And with children there is no way to give up ”, she assures.
This last challenge is like the “kryptonite” of mompreneurs. Well, if they prioritize their attention to the family, they could have low sales in their business or lack of structure. And if they consider the company, the children and the house resent it. There is also the feeling of guilt, for not being sufficiently present with your family or with your work. What is the cure? Heike launches a possible response: “Being a mom and an entrepreneur is working without a fixed schedule and you must learn to recognize your mistakes, grow, forgive yourself and start over if necessary.”