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Motherhood and Entrepreneurship

Todays article is a guest post by Aparna Kalantri, a Pune-based mum-preneur. See the end of the article for more about her.

Today's article is a guest post by Aparna Kalantri, a Pune-based mum-preneur. See the end of the article for more about her.

I am in the process of setting up my own small business after my maternity break (is the break ever really over? :-). I have always been a high achiever in life, was doing very well in my career (IT in Oz), and had a steep career graph going for me. After having my baby, I decided to consciously take time-off. Now, the 9-5 (or is it 9-9?) routine does not suit me. But I still wanted to fulfil my individual potential and live out my best life, and would like to work professionally, but at my own pace. So now I am in my ‘onramp’ stage, and would like to share some of my thoughts on ‘Entrepreneurship after having kids’.

First in my series is – ‘The soft challenges of doing part-time entrepreneurial work’ (esp. with limited human resource even if you count the baby in :-)

  • Ideas-Focus: The problem is not lack of ideas (as one would have expected), but rather too many of them. When I started, there were too many ideas that I wanted to do all at once. Having worked in a fast paced corporate environment (pre-babies of course), I was efficient at using the current working system to make the ideas happen. The shift now is to develop a new system on your own to make things happen. It takes time to adjust to the ‘new working you’. What can we do about this?
    • Learn to focus on and develop a few (couple) ideas. Need to analyse what is going to be my niche. Once the core idea sets in, then you can work on the allied services.
    • Need to use the strategy of ‘release and review’ with your customer base. But here we need to understand the effort/ output ratio. Come to a satisfactory stage/ get initial reviews from industry experts/ and release. Update and chart your course as per the feedback.
  • Instant gratification: Remember the pat-on-the-back by your boss for an excellent presentation/ or the extra-bonus/ or the successful release at 4 in the morning/ or simply the cheers at the morning coffee run? As trivial as they may seem these are important things. As a part-time mumpreneur, there may be no-one to provide this encouragement. These advantages of working in a collaborative effort are missing. Also, initially success may be slow in coming (incubation and setting up period more). This for a mother is more challenging due to the internal pressure she faces in order to succeed (to justify her effort away from her family).
    • Very simply – ‘Pat yourself’ :-) There are times when only you know how you’ve gone through that difficult day with being a mum, home-maker, wife etc. and have still managed to complete that little work. Be kind to yourself.
    • Surround yourself with positive people. Get honest feedback from the ‘knowers’.
  • Perceptions: Ever heard the expression ‘Just a mother / housewife’ – that is what I’m talking about. When you are doing a job, it’s easier for others to understand the structure of your life. So (generally) the expectations & their perception of you is very different. Our society, I feel, is quite biased in this regard. (That’s another discussion for another day). Since I work mostly from home, and schedule around my toddler’s timings, people don’t know where to draw the line with expectations. They tend to take our time for granted a lot more, and also do not understand that the work we do is as important (if not more). I am sure that this is probably something to do with the signals that we give out, but nevertheless it is an issue.
    • Highlight what your efforts are, and what you have achieved through them. Sometimes this doesn’t come naturally to us, especially if what we have achieved is not as much as before. You need to be able to tell people and believe yourself that it is important and a priority.
  • Being immersed in your work/ Losing flexibility: Remember the reason why we chose to do this type of work? We wanted a lifestyle of flexibility and independence in terms of time and accountability. In order to make it big fast, or to fuel the great early success, we tend to work on this more than a full time job. The work takes over our mind & time, and we find it difficult to switch-off when we need to. The goal of being more present (physically & mentally too) for our family / or of leading a more independent lifestyle is lost. For this we can apply various time/ priority management strategies.
    • Do not try to ‘have it all’ by doing it all. You must to understand when the business is big enough for you to recruit / partner with a team and delegate. Apply appropriate task management strategies.
    • These priorities in life may change depending upon various factors – there may be busy and slow periods. From time-to-time ask yourself and your loved ones – ‘Is this working for me?’/ ‘Are we happy with this?’.
  • Networking: I remember I had wanted to attend a Pune Open Coffee Club forum presentation. It was 45 minutes from my home. I was looking forward to it. During my maternity leave, this was an event to look forward to. To connect to my non-mummy/ non-nappy conversation mode :-) I observed that for most of the other participants it was just another casual meeting they had made way to after a busy day. Just one of the things that they did. For me, this meant pre-arranging for baby-sitting, making sure the feed/ nap times are taken care of, and arranging for stuff so the baby stays happy. Phew!! All this for a free forum meeting (which turned out to be really good, BTW). Now you understand the effort that we have to go through with networking. And I haven’t even talked about the soft-networking aspects (the golf games/the tennis games/ the tweet-ups/ the catch-ups/ the evening beer meetups etc. :-)
    • Sometimes you just need to take that break from ‘mummyhood’ in order to connect to your other self. Even if it is a lot of effort, do take the time out to network. When you do make sure you don’t let the mummy-brain take over your personality :-)
    • Use technology. When you cannot physically go out and network, use the abundance of technology at your disposal. Be careful that you are networking effectively and not just being part of groups which add no value to your goal.

So the above are some of the few things that I have tried and have worked for me during my on-ramping experience. Would love to hear what you all have to say. There are a lot more things in this series to talk about – we’ll see how we go :-).

About the Author – Aparna Kalantri

Aparna has recently moved to Pune. She has studied B.E. (computer science) from Pune University and then moved to Melbourne. There, she completed (with top honours) her Master’s in IT from Swinburne University. After her degree she worked in Melbourne & Sydney in banking domain doing various IT roles. After having spent seven years in Australia, she (along with her husband and a little baby) moved back to India (Pune).

She is in the process of setting up her own ‘Personal Excellence Centre’ for women. She is passionate about self-development activities, and has been involved in many such workshops in her corporate career. She aspires to help women achieve their full potential and live their best life. She too believes in living consciously and freely.

You can follow her on twitter at @aparnakalantri

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Comments

28 responses to Motherhood and Entrepreneurship

  1. Anu says:

    Great article..I totally agree with all the things you have mentioned..Would love to join your effort to help moms achieve their career and creative goals and at the same time raise a happy and healthy family.

  2. One small step for Aparna, a giant leap for a mother. I agree with you on “pat on the back” and “surround yourself with positive people”. I see family’s participation as a great asset. Husbands have a duty to support their better halves to get back to competitive life so sure include him as well. Good luck and yes, send your kids to childcare without guilt. There is enough evidence to prove that children DO NOT suffer if mothers work !!

  3. Aparna Kalantri says:

    Thanks for your comments :).
    Anu: I am in the process of launchinng forum for this. We will have online presence and also workshops/ meetups etc. If you’re interested, you can send me your details on aparna.kalantri@gmail.com
    Bhooshan: Its encouraging to see prominent members of society (like you :)) thinking in terms of support for this. Thanks. I do see a fair amount of husbands-wives supporting each other as a team (But need more of this surely). I think the onus lies on the woman also to be assertive and communicate her needs effectively.

  4. Amit Karpe says:

    Great article !!!
    This will give different look at my wife and to understand her efforts. I know taken for granted is really problem. Tips like “Learn to focus”, ‘release and review’, ‘Pat yourself’ are really useful. Wish you best of luck :)

  5. Kanchan Tamhankar says:

    Aparna, absolutely fantastic…

    This article is exactly as good as written especially for me. I can relate to this every word you have written.

    For me, working for myself and working for my child and my family are so equally important that many times I end up in a dilemma. Your encouragement through this article is surely going to be a motivating factor for me.. Now I think I can work at both ends without any pinch of guilt.

    Thanks a trillion for this. Looking fwd to more articles in the series. Love ya.. :-)

  6. Great article Aparna! Lot’s of very interesting points and inspiration to other mums out there who could be considering an entrepreneurial direction. All the best!

  7. Sushma says:

    Taking the first step seems the most difficult one.While I had a roaring career ,pre-child, a break of 18 months from work has instilled in me a desire to do something different, now, while attending to all the needs of my baby, and not get into the same IT as- you- said- it 9-9 syndrome again.My name is Sushma Sonawane and I look forward to be a part of your enterprise:). Please let me know how.

  8. Nanda R says:

    Hello Aparna,
    Excellent article. My career was going great when I took a break for my kids. I have been working on freelance projects from home, and empathise totally with every line you have written above. Thanks for a great article.
    Cheers!!
    Nanda

  9. Anjali Gupta says:

    Hi Aparna, Thank you for writing such an honest article. I enjoyed reading it and will keep your points in mind. Many of the points apply to even those who work from home, or in a seed-startup mode. For example, your points on perceptions and instant gratification are applicable to all entrepreneurs in the early stage.
    My best wishes to you for your ventures on the business and home front!

  10. Aparna Kalantri says:

    Amit K: Glad to know you connect to this issue.
    Kanchan: I think its time we give up the guilt and focus more on the things that will actually help. Whether your choice is to work or not – more important is to be guilt-free about your decision. Good luck to you :).
    Neil: Thanks :).
    Sushma: The setting up is still in process. See my previous comment for details. You can email me at aparna.kalantri@gmail.com with your interest. Thanks.

  11. prachi mujumdar says:

    Nice article! though i haven’t actually experienced i can imagine the need of fine balance between work and home. This article (and many more to come) will definitely give a helpful insight to all the women. :)

  12. dr shweta agarwal says:

    i totally agree with you aparna…. i think such articles will really motivate many mothers to make their dreams come true.. good job

  13. Aparna Kalantri says:

    Anjali: Thanks. I am a big fan of your work :).
    Prachi, Shweta & Nanda: Thanks.

  14. Gauri Kulkarni says:

    Hi Aparna…..

    That was a great Article….a very honest one too!:)

    I am also a full time mom and a part time worker for the past 5-6 years!

    Believe me when I decided to work only part time…people were very apprehensive…whether I would be able to get work, to manage and thereafter Succeed!
    Though the road was difficult……it was not impossible!

    Slowly and steadily I have attained the balance and today I am very proud to say that I have been very lucky all throughout.

    God has been kind, as I am able to work according to my specifications, my timings, within my location criterias. Hence I am able to enjoy the time with my growing daughter and at the same time able to satisfy my creative urge to work….and Succeed in both!

    I am sure the stage has come when Corporates and Senior management people do understand that such “homemakers” can be equally productive in business and can be an Asset to their organization!

    Thanks
    Gauri Kulkarni

  15. Aparna Kalantri says:

    Gauri,
    Congratulations to you! You go, girl :). You must inspire so many around you.
    I certainly agree that in corporates part-time working women are equally productive (there is enough research done to show this). There are 2 issues though: 1. Many women have been able to make a balanced structure. 2. I think barring a few good cos. (that too only IT/ teaching maybe), the rest of the work-culture is not that conducive yet. It is quite evident from the numbers.
    Hoping that the situation improves, and our tribe grows :).
    aparna.

  16. capt sangita kabra bangar says:

    Hello Aparna
    I fully agree with u when u say “The problem is not lack of ideas (as one would have expected), but rather too many of them.” Women have the opportunities and just while their life, I hope from your article they will find a path a way to put their ideas forward.

  17. Mahesh says:

    I do not understand , In India now a days I see a lot of people saying that they returned from abroad , and they express themselves as they have got a cultural shock.Many a people who happened to spend few years in US,Austrlia , Singapore behave in a way as if they have come back to some alien nation. I tend to laugh when people say that they have just come to India for few years and will be going back , whereas the actual situation is that they have been thrown out of that country .

    • navin says:

      @Mahesh,
      1. India is changing so rapidly these days, that if someone has been out of touch for more than 5 years, it _does_ feel like you’ve come back to an alien nation. The changes are both good (e.g. getting a “gas connection” in a few days, instead of waiting for years) and bad (e.g. HUGE amounts of traffic in places that used to be barren just a few years ago). So a “reverse culture shock” is quite a reasonable response

      2. India is a “hot” economy now. Most of the people moving back to India because out of choice, because it provides a faster and more interesting career track. So your comment about “thrown out of that country” is rather off base.

  18. Aparna Kalantri says:

    capt sangita: thanks. i hope so, too.

    Mahesh: I do not see the relevance of your comment to this article. This article as you can see resonates more with Indians than women abroad. IMO, where I’ve come from is not of significance here.

    cheers,
    aparna.

  19. Sonali Patil says:

    Hi Aparna,
    Very nice article. Looking forward to your next article already !
    I really like your idea of social Entrepreneurship. I think once you have started , you need to make 100% sure you should not stop does not matter if you did 5 mins/ 1hr/10 hr work in a day as long you have continuity and focus you will always succeed.
    About motherhood + entreprenuership take motivations, ideas,planning from women who have been doing it for decades e.g.(Very common)- Women who make packed lunches for people (mess). I know its not IT related but principles can be applied like 2-3 hrs hard work and rest is all planning.
    Women’s intelligence,personality should not be lost due to motherhood. Its a personal loss and most of all its a loss to indian economy. On motherhood front – A mother always gives 100% to her children. I think a working mother puts in more because of her so called GUILT.
    Its important you get help from people around you , let them know what you are doing and how important its to you.
    On personal front – i am mother of 2 lovely kids, i currently work part time. Here is the best part – i never take work home , but i always bring my kids to work (in my heart and in my head – always planning for the evening and weekend fun + homeworks!!! + food ).

    Good luck to you and plus to many more whom you inspire ( including me) . Looking forward to your portal..

    take care
    Sonali

  20. Mouli says:

    Hi Aparna,
    A wonderful article and all the best for your centre.I would love to help if required.Do let me know how.

    Cheers
    Mouli

  21. Beautiful thoughts there Aparna!

    It’s a pleasure to see moms continuing to explore their self growth, take time to think high and prove to the self more than the world, that nothing is impossible especially when motherhood teaches multitasking the best.

    Your kid will be proud and will inherit more business learnings from you than any business course will teach ever. :)

    Keep writing,
    Cheers

    Madhurie Singh

  22. Aparna Kalantri says:

    Sonali: Thanks for teh tip on focus & continuity-will keep at it :). IMO, its not about working or not, as much as its about exercising the free choice of doing one or the other & keeping your own self fulfilled in all ways.
    Mouli & Madhurie: Thanks for your kind words :).

  23. Geeta Chaudhari says:

    Hi Aparna,

    This article is indeed a very good inspiration for all new mothers. Especially things like “pat yourself” really makes one think about the huge efforts taken by a mom for a negligible achievement (as seen by others).
    Thanks for writing :)
    -Geeta

  24. Gouri says:

    Hi Aparna,

    This article is something which i needed. Very motivating indeed.I too am a full time mom from past one year. I am a BCom – MBA graduate who was working in a BPO for 4 years. I want to be a good mom but at the same time want to achieve my dreams. I am in Hubli now , away from my native, with less support. I want to start my own business. But my problem is I am falling short with ideas..I am not sure as to which business I can take up..!Please suggest.
    Thankyou
    -Gouri

  25. Laxmi says:

    Hi Aparna,

    The points in your article resonate with any working mom – whether an entrepreneur or a 9-9 worker. Us ladies can ‘have it all’, just not at the same time!
    Look forward to reading other articles from you..

    -Laxmi

  26. Aparna says:

    Hi Friends,

    Have finally released our women’s portal: http://www.littlewins.in/ Hoping that this proves to be a useful and successful service. Please fwd to all those who you think might benefit from this service. Please have a read of my first blogpost there: http://www.littlewins.in/index.php/articles and provide comments.

    thanks,
    aparna.

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