Can women have it all -- a husband, children and a successful business?
It may seem overwhelming, as being a mom is a full-time job on its own. Yet somehow many women manage the demands of family and working for themselves, too.
How do these women do it all, and with apparent ease?
When juggling a career and children, it's always essential to maintain a balance, which at times can be quite difficult.
"I work at my home so it's hard to distinguish when to stop and switch modes. It's important to create fences, allowing some things in and some out, but never a wall," says Debbie Schlitt, who has two young daughters and owns the
Grand Gait Equestrian Community, a horse-boarding and showing facility in Vero Beach, Fla.
It's important to also factor in time for yourself.
"I continue to learn balance, and it's not easy when you are building or growing a company. In fact, we are taking our first vacation in almost four years; mostly due to building a great team, putting systems in place and finally making the commitment to just do it!" says Maureen Borzacchiello, founder of
Creative Display Solutions, a trade-show display company based in Lynbrook, N.Y, and mother of a four-year-old son.
Borzacchiello worked out of her home until she found an outside warehouse space in 2004; she then moved the entire office and warehouse to a nearby location in 2006.
Borzacchiello works in the office primarily from about nine to six, but sometimes catches up on work at home during evening hours. "Although my goal is to eliminate that and have some time for myself, I am a night owl, so it doesn't bother me too much," she says.
Still, as challenging as it may be to find the balance, many businesswomen don't regret the path they've chosen.
Have children impeded their chance for success? Jill Penman, a successful real estate agent at
Coldwell Banker Residential in Miami, says absolutely not. "I almost work smarter and harder since I have three children under five,
because I have to utilize my time very wisely and constantly organize every event and anticipate in advance." Penman has been a realtor since 2002, and has been a mother the entire time.
There are some ways to make the life of a working mom a bit easier. "Get good help that can assist with tasks like cooking and cleaning, and get involved with a carpool," Penman advises.
Having an involved and helpful partner is also key. "My husband loves to cook, plus he is extremely handy around the house so he can build anything or fix anything," says Kris Wittenberg, owner of Colorado-based
SayNoMore Promotions. Wittenberg currently has one daughter, and another on the way.
Additionally, Wittenberg has employed an au pair for two years. "Our au pair can help with meals, grocery shopping, anything having to do with the ... kids," she says.
Borzacchiello also has a full-time nanny, which helps give her the support she needs. "It really works well for me now, because I travel every six weeks or so on business. I still like to cook dinner, but she cleans up while I have time to play with my son. My husband is also a great support and does a great job of sharing the burdens of home and work," says Borzacchiello.
Borzacchiello notes that the success of your family-career balance will also be determined by your job's team of employees.
If you can't afford to hire someone to work for you right away, make sure you document all the procedures and systems that you're putting in place, which will facilitate hiring, training and delegating down the road. "I wish I had thought to do this when I was growing my company solo during the first few years," says Borzacchiello, who founded her company in 2001.
Her husband, whom she hired in 2004, was her first outside employee; Creative Display Solutions now employs eight.
Aside from finding the right balance, there are several perks for self-employed moms.
Working from home can be a big help in getting the tasks of the day done. "I often work from my home office so that I can get loads of laundry done or birthday gifts wrapped between emails and phone calls," Wittenberg notes.
And being your own boss means you don't have to answer to anyone. "I don't have to ask to leave in the middle of the day to pick up my daughter from Montessori or take her to the doctor. And I have the same policy for all of the parents in my company -- family comes first," says Wittenberg, who has six employees.
These successful women also act as strong role models for their children. "My daughter has seen her mom have a successful career, and show up for the important events," says Wittenberg.
"What I love about being an entrepreneur and a wife and mother is that I am setting a great example for my son. He understands general concepts about business, money and how to interact with people," Borzacchiello adds.
But what about how these moms are viewed as businesswomen -- do they feel it burdens their business? "If anything, I feel I get more respect. People who have kids understand all of the demands that
it entails," says Wittenberg.
Still, it helps if the balance is always kept in mind. "Presentation in your business as a professional is so important. I never embellish on my personal life and cross it over with my businesses," says Schlitt, who knows when to not bring up the kids if she's meeting with clients.
So ladies, don't think it's impossible to have it all. You can have your own business and have a family to come home to -- and even date night with your husband (and girls' nights out) -- it's all about striking the right balance.