5 Things I’ve Learned Coaching Mompreneurs

A recent project has had me looking back at my years of clients (can you believe I’m a terrible record keeper?) and thinking about ways these women’s lives have changed after working with me. Now, don’t get me wrong—this is not about patting myself on the back. I can only ask the questions and get the wheels turning; each woman I work with has to come to the right conclusions for her and then take action. Sure, I help think through decisions and then add a layer of accountability, but when it comes to getting the work done? That’s for my clients to do!

As I’ve looked back, I’ve also realized some important lessons I’ve learned as I work with a variety of women in all stages of life who work in vastly different industries with different goals. That’s what I want to share with you today, so here they are:

  1. Everyone (especially mompreneurs) need to get clear about their priorities. This is EVERYTHING about success as a mom business owner. How will you know you’re “succeeding” if you don’t know what that looks like for you? (Shameless book plug: in Moms Mean Business we walk you through the process of identifying your priorities. Order it here!)
  2. Even now, most women need to let go of what success looks like for stereotypical entrepreneurs or even what the women themselves think their success should look like based on external factors. We are not twenty-somethings who are bootstrapping the next Facebook in our basement. We can’t work 60-80 hours per week fueled on Taco Bell and Red Bull. We also probably won’t have a picture-perfect Pinterest house and a perfect coif. We can’t be all the things to all the people. We define success for ourselves!
  3. After identifying priorities, we need to follow those to their most likely result and then be realistic about our expectations. If family, marriage, and business are your priorities, then sitting on other community committees and volunteering for other organizations may have to wait for another phase of life. Asking yourself: if these are my priorities, what kind of life will I have?
  4. Once we are clear about their version of success, we have to follow through with those priorities. Which is why finding out what those priorities really are is paramount to success. If you’re neglecting your business to volunteer for hours at your kids’ school, you’ll just end up resenting that time if copying worksheets is not one of your priorities. And vice versa: if your marriage is falling apart because you spend every evening working on your business, you’re going to be similarly unhappy if that marriage is one of your priorities.
  5. It is absolutely, 100% okay to ask for help. Whether it’s from coach, a friend, a mentor, a mental health professional, our family, whatever, asking for help is not weak. When you have a strong support team, you are better equipped for the many challenges of owning a business and having a family (or either of those on their own)! Asking for help does not mean you’re not cut out for the life you have or that you can’t do what you’ve set out to do. In fact, you won’t be able to do what you want without the right help. So circle the wagons and get some people around you who you can trust!
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Is It Impolite to Be a Powerful Woman?

being a leader“Being a leader is like being a lady.  If you have to go around telling people you are one, you aren’t.”  ~Margaret Thatcher

Such a delicious quote, isn’t it? And a powerful one—but one, if we’re not careful, that can take on a connotation not intended. Time and time again, we come up against the mindset—and the reality, based on research—that compared to their male counterparts, so many women don’t negotiate as hard, don’t push for those top positions, and don’t display what we consider to be “powerful” actions. And why is that? As Chief Everything Officer of my business, I have to own my power. I have to know that I am powerful enough to be successful and happy. There is a huge difference between being an arrogant power-monger and being the confident, capable, dedicated and powerful women we are and have to be as mompreneurs.

What kinds of voices go through your mind as you think of what it means to be a powerful woman? Your grandmother who said, “Arrogance does not befit a woman of dignity” or a teacher who said, “It’s bragging to talk about your strengths” or a mentor who said, “Being powerful alienates those who aren’t”? You know what, guys? That’s thinking small. That’s just thinking small.

Now that’s not to say that being powerful doesn’t come with its challenges and responsibilities. Realizing that you are the person in charge of your destiny, that ultimately the choices you make and the priorities you set determine the outcomes in your life, is a monumental responsibility. As powerful women, wives, moms, entrepreneurs, we alone can make those decisions that work or do not work for our families, our lives, and our businesses.

That’s a lot of responsibility! Now the fear of such responsibility can keep us from living a life of power. But with that responsibility comes great reward as well. The ability to define “success” on your own terms, not borrowing someone else’s definition, not trying to live up to something that your mom or your dad or your neighbor or your friend says that you should be, but owning your own power and calling the shots for your life… It doesn’t get much better than that!

Power is that gateway to sharing our gifts, lifting others up, doing good… which is why we got into business in the first place, right? So whatever your gifts, whatever your strengths, whatever it is that makes you valuable and necessary to the world… own it! Don’t shy away from those amazing talents and the dedication to sharing them and creating a legacy. That’s the powerful woman I want to hang out with.

I’d love to hear your comments.

So what do you think? Power—is it a faux pas? Is it impolite to be powerful? What makes a powerful woman? What makes you a powerful woman? How are you going to share that power?

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When I Grow Up, I Want to Be Sheryl Sandberg

I have been working with some other moms at my fifth-grader’s school on a memory book that each of our fifth-graders will take with them when they leave elementary school and move onto middle school. One of the questions the kids are asked for this book is “Who is your hero?”

Who Is Your Hero?

This sort of question always gives me pause, since I am not in the habit myself of thinking of heroes. I had to ask: “Who is my hero?” And for a while, I just couldn’t come up with anything since the term “hero” made me think of putting someone on a pedestal, making them different from me, and making them superior. I wound up with a whole bunch of weird emotions about that term, shook my head, and then forgot about it.

lean in collageBut over the last few weeks, I have been consuming all the information I can about Sheryl Sandberg and her movement and new book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. I’ve watch a smart, ambitious woman put herself in front of the firing squad to stand up for what she believes in–that women deserve an equal shot at success and leadership opportunities, in addition to running a family. And I’ve watched a strong, kind woman respond to all manner of criticism and contempt with grace and self-confidence.

This video clip from CNN.com is a great example of how Sandberg accepts and allows criticism of her views and respects different points of views without losing sight of what matters most to her.

Ambition, Confidence, Leadership

I love what Sheryl is doing to bring discussions of gender in the workforce and the choices about raising a family and being successful in business to the table. I appreciate that she’s using her role as a woman leader in business to speak about a controversial topic that matters. Yes, she has resources that most of us don’t and won’t have that contribute to her success, but that doesn’t make her points less valid. She could simply do her job at Facebook, make a ton of money, and be happy. Instead, she’s choosing to leverage her position to attempt to help working women have better choices.

Bless her heart. If I have to pick a hero, she’d look a lot like Sheryl Sandberg. I’m 42 and she’s 43, so maybe there’s still time for me to be just like her when I grow up. If that doesn’t happen, I hope that one day she knows who I am and how much her message makes a my world a better place.

Special thanks to my little sister, Jessica Axton, for sending this video clip to me this morning. She knows my heart so well.

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What Mom Biz Retreat is REALLY All About

I just returned from hosting Mom Biz Retreat in Denver last weekend, and as usual when I experience something wonderful, I always want to share it with everyone I know.

mombizretreat.com denver


But I’ve been stuck for days trying to figure out how to summarize all that happened in that powerful weekend. I initially thought I’d write a sort of journal entry that touched on everything we did over the three nights and three days together. But telling you all about the amazing food we ate, the fantastic spa treatments we received, the powerful work sessions we had and the deep conversations that kept us up too late each night won’t capture the essence of the Retreat experience.

So let me pull back the curtain and tell you what really happens at the Mom Biz Retreat.

We are small.

There are so many live events out there that aim to be the most popular. They need 300, 500, or 1,000 attendees to consider themselves successful. Our mission is to provide an intimate, close-knit group of women who really get to know each other and reach out to support each other. We listen to each woman share her goals, her plans, her fears. We ask probing questions. We offer honest feedback. With a tiny group of women, no one can get lost or left out. We are able to hold each and every participant in the Retreats responsible for the goals she sets for herself for the weekend. We get things done.

We make a few confessions.

When girls gather, work together all day, then play together all evening, we tend to open up and share more than we would in a big group. Trusting bonds are formed. We see ourselves in each other. We understand how each other feels. We realize how some of our limiting beliefs are keeping us from being successful, from playing a bigger game, or from getting what we really want.

It’s amazing how freeing it can be to admit the limiting beliefs we have about ourselves, beliefs like:

  • “I really should just be happy with my corporate job since I make plenty of money.”
  • “I’m embarrassed about how much money I make because it means I’m working too much and neglecting my kids.”
  • “In my heart I want to help everybody, not just rich people, so I have to keep my fees low.”
  • “How can I call myself an expert when I don’t have a fraction of the clients, followers, or fans that x——— does?”
  • “Money is tight, so I have to keep doing work I hate in order to make ends meet.”
  • “I’m drowning in work right now, but I can’t outsource anything because it’s too hard to explain what I do.”

We make big plans.

Once we admit those scary beliefs that are keeping us down, we have the golden opportunity to let go of them and replace them with awesome, huge, inspiring beliefs. We encourage each other to try something we didn’t think we could. We ask each other to ask for more. We practice declaring who we are, what we do, who we serve and why it matters. We raise our rates and charge what we’re really worth. We ask for help in creating the support structures and systems that allow us to accomplish our dreams.

We leave empowered and confident.

We girls like to lift each other up. We like to help each other. How can you not feel more confident when you’ve shared your big, hairy, scary fears with a group of women business owners who have also shared theirs, and who still think you’re amazing anyway?

Shelagh and I have created the kind of event we want to attend ourselves. It’s an honor to get to spend a weekend amidst women committed to running a business and a family according to their own definition of success.

Is it time for you to let go of those limiting beliefs that are keeping you from achieving your goals? What could you do with a strong, honest, powerful network of women entrepreneurs who you know have your back? Grab your seat now before they’re all gone: www.mombizretreat.com and click on Ontario for the next Retreat coming up in September.


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Essay Contest Winner- From Fear to Faith: One mom’s journey to living out her dreams

This is a winning essay submission for the essay contest here at Mom Biz Coach.

Submitted by: Christine St.Vil


From Fear to Faith: One mom’s journey to living out her dreams

Today, I am living my dream! I make my own schedule on a daily basis….or should I say, my kids make my schedule on a daily basis!

It’s usually my two-month old that starts things off, followed by her (almost) two year old big sister and her (almost) four year old big brother! Some mornings they gradually break into the craziness and let me actually wake up first.  But most mornings, they wake up with a BANG and ready to conquer the world….or each other, whichever comes first!  Since my husband works at night, it’s usually a juggling (and bribing) act just to keep them quiet and entertained until he wakes up.  And the minute he wakes up and  comes down the stairs, their faces light up like Christmas lights, and their squeals are so high pitched you would think he had been gone for months.  I love every minute of it, and wouldn’t trade it for the world.
But you see……my days weren’t always filled with so much joy.

The day was March 21, 2011…a day I’ll never forget.  It was the day I walked into my corporate job (you know, the one with a steady paycheck every two weeks, and the one most people hate to go but go anyway…), and handed in my resignation letter—effective immediately.  I was six and a half months pregnant; with our third child.  For me, this was actually scarier than giving birth….and I don’t take to pain very well at all (I was the one asking for an epidural before I had barely begun dilating)!  But at the same time, an important decision needed to be made: continue to put my pregnancy in jeopardy due to the high stress levels I was under, or listen to what God had been telling me to do long ago and….LEAVE!  After being off of work for a week on medical leave, I realized just how much stress I had been under.  So it no longer became an option, but a necessity.  At the risk of sounding cliché, the biggest weight I had ever had to carry was finally lifted off of my shoulders! I turned in my letter, cleaned out the rest of my office, and skipped out of there forever!

Since March 21st, my success has been so sweet.  My success meant getting the physical and emotional rest I needed for the duration of my pregnancy so I could deliver a healthy baby.  My success has also been being able to take my son to his field trips, and spending quality time with my two year old before her little sister arrived.  My success means that I am finally able to focus on what my dreams are and that of my family so that we can start acting on them.  Success for me, has been realizing that sometimes, you really just have to face your fears and step out on faith.

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Highlights From the MomBizRetreat

Last week, Shelagh Cummins and I hosted the first-ever MomBizRetreat. The purpose of the Retreat was to give mom entrepreneurs a space and dedicated time to work on themselves and on their businesses, without all the distractions we usually have at home. It was amazing on so many levels.

Mompreneur Getaway Mom Entrepreneurs RetreatI went there as a teacher/trainer/coach, but I came away having learned so much. When you put 18 powerful, smart, and ambitious women in a room, big things happen. (One of the MomBizRetreat participants shared her story here.) I have so much to share with you about this amazing experience.

It’s been six days since I drove to the Village of Alton, outside of Toronto, and spent nearly every waking minute for an entire weekend with other mompreneurs who are just as passionate about their families and businesses as I am.MomBizRetreat Mompreneur Getaway Mom Entrepreneur Retreat Millcroft Inn Canada

The thing is, writing it down in an organized blog post really stifles me. I’m really not a blogger. I’m a micro-blogger. I speak and think in tweets. I can readily share my ideas in conversation, pictures, podcasts, and all over social media. But it’s been six days since the Retreat, and I’m still struggling to tell you about it on my blog.

So instead of continuing to struggle with organized thoughts that flow logically from one to the next, I’m going to share snippets of what I’m taking away from the MomBizRetreat.

  • Set your intentions, share them with others who understand your motivation and passion, and you’re gonna get them done!
  • Mompreneurs support each other. The women in the room worked together and found ways to help each other. Collaborate rather than compete.
  • Getting away from it all allows us the freedom to think, create and do at a lightning-fast pace.
  • It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out as a mom entrepreneur or whether you’ve run your company for 10 years already. Everyone has valuable knowledge, wisdom and expertise to share.
  • You have to love your work. If you don’t anymore, then it’s time to reflect, refine and re-invent.
  • If everyone else thinks you’re successful, but you don’t feel happy about what you’ve accomplished, it’s definitely time to rethink how you define success for yourself.
  • Every mompreneur needs a Time Map. Period.
  • Getting out of the “should” business is thoroughly liberating. The mom business owners at the Retreat had a ton of skills and strengths. Their businesses are going to thrive now that they are giving their strengths their focus!
  • Having a buddy you can share your thoughts, fears, wins, doubts, plans, challenges and successes with is critical. I’m so grateful for my partner!
  • When you have an “a-ha moment,” you have to do something about it. Updating your website or profile to reflect something you believe in, making a huge business decision when you realize something, asking for help when you see that you need it must all be done the minute you realize you need to do them!
  • Sometimes random strangers can tell us things about our businesses that we can’t see for ourselves.
  • Sometimes random strangers can see straight into our hearts, even when we’re trying hard to hide something.
  • A women’s retreat is a great, safe space to practice being open to change.

I would love to say more here, but it’s easier for me to share it on Twitter (check out the #MomBizRetreat hashtag to follow the conversation there), on our MomBizRetreat Facebook Page, and of course, on my BlogTalkRadio Show.

Lara Galloway mombizcoach.com Shelagh Cummins biztrainher.com leaders of the mombizretreat.comIf you attended the MomBizRetreat and have created a video, blogpost or podcast about your experience there, please share a link here in the comments section.

What would you be looking for in a women’s business retreat or mompreneur getaway? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

*photos courtesy Jennifer Gilbert, Naturally Beautiful Photography


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Want to See Your Successful Mom Biz in a Magazine?

>>>>Winners announced here!<<<<

Mompreneurs define success in a lot of different ways, and part of my job as a coach is helping each of my clients to determine how she will measure her own success.

how to be a successful mom entrepreneurWhat does success look like for you? Do you include factors that measure your business as well as personal finances? What about how much time you spend with your family? Or how important is repeat business for you? Perhaps you’ve just launched your mom biz and are focused on just becoming credible and visible to your target audience this year.

Whatever your definition of success is, I’d love for you to share it with other mom entrepreneurs out there who are trying to figure this out for themselves.

Starting today, I’m launching a contest to feature mompreneurs and the success they’ve fought so hard for.

Want to see your mom-owned business featured in the glossy pages of a magazine?

Share a 500 word essay on your definition of success and how you’ve achieved success on your own terms for a chance to be featured in an exclusive publication produced by Mom Biz Coach  and HP MagCloud.

Ten essays will be chosen to be included in a high-quality printed magazine sold on MagCloud  in both digital and print editions, for a low cost. Additionally all entrants will receive a 10% discount off of production costs on MagCloud.

To enter:

  • Write a 500 word essay that best describes your success as a mompreneur, and post it on your blog. Then come back and leave a comment on this post, with a link to your post by September 2nd.
  • If you don’t have your own blog, that’s okay!  Email your article along with a title, subtitle and a headshot by September 2nd and we’ll post it for you. ( Send the article to manager at mombizacademy dot com)

We will announce the 10 winners on Tuesday, September 6th. Don’t miss this chance to have your business featured — digitally and in print!

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What Does a Woman of Power Look Like?

I’m thrilled to feature one of the most powerful women I know, Cherry Woodburn, as my guest blogger today. Cherry is founder of Borderless Thinking®, a business created to help women grow in various aspects of their life in order to do what they really want and be their authentic selves. It entails taming their inner shrew, leaving insecurities behind and learning new patterns of behavior. This occurs through on and off-line workshops, retreats, the written word and keynote presentations chocked full of stories, info’ and humor. Check out the powerful conversations Cherry’s having on her blog!

Guest post by Cherry Woodburn

Is Stopping A Bully A Sign Of Power?

Eddie T’s mom. I still remember her moniker and the day she told me that my older son was being bullied by some of the neighbor kids. Seth was in middle-school at the time.

When he came home that day I asked him about it. He said it was true, a few kids had pushed him around and were threatening to beat him up, causing him to take different routes to and from school.

“What kept you from telling me?”

From the look on his face and, his hesitation I knew the answer, “You were worried I’d drive the van through the front door of John’s house and pummel him in the face right?”

He nodded yes.

Seth knew I wouldn’t have really driven my van through the door or pummeled the kid’s face and he also knew I would never sit still for him or his brother being abused. They knew I took on the bully baseball coach. Although Seth would have liked help but didn’t want to be razzed about his mom intervening, figuring the bulling would just get worse.

So does the fact that I’ll confront the bully (really for anybody, not just my sons) make me a woman with power? I don’t think so, not in my definition of power but – and this may sound like word-games – I know I’m a powerful woman.

Is Taking A Stand And Asking For What I Want A Sign Of Power?

Clay Shirky wrote A Rant About Women which raised the hackles of many and was written about in a myriad of blogs and the Bloomberg Business Week (can see his post there, it’s no longer on original site). Essentially he said that women don’t speak up enough for themselves, and that’s the primary reason why they don’t get promoted etc. like men do. He told women that they need to raise their hands and ask for what they want. So I did. I called him out in a post and then emailed him my post telling him I was raising my hand and I wanted him to respond to my post and tweet about it. He did. We debated over emails. I landed on BBC World news as a commenter when the BBC interviewed him. All that made me feel powerful. And I guess that was a show of my power. But here’s my problem with saying I hold power. And it’s not about being a woman.

I equate power with position and scale – President of USA and other countries, CEO of large companies, celebrities like Bono or Oprah who use there celebrity to influence change. I don’t have that kind of power. Therefore, I don’t think of myself as a woman of power.

Another Definition Of Power

Lara Galloway, The Mom Biz Coach, has called me out on occasion saying I don’t own my power – that I don’t recognize the presence I have or honor my ability to speak up and to take risks. She’s right. I’m not sure what to say about it. I don’t want to play small but I’m uncomfortable being big…or at least with saying I’m big. That feels like bragging and “nice people” (hearing my mom’s voice) don’t brag. I want to be nice, I don’t enjoy being around braggarts. So how do I own my power, embrace it and not brag?

I think a person can be powerful without saying they’re powerful. Is that a cop-out? What do you think?

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