Becoming a Mom is like Starting a Company in So Many Ways

After returning to work after maternity leave, I noticed a definite shift in my thinking. Giving birth and the weeks afterward were the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and it has given me perspective, purpose and confidence.

As a result, I’ve never been more excited to invest in early-stage consumer. Moms shape consumer behavior in so many ways. Often, they make the decisions about their families’ consumption. And, even if not, Moms have a disproportionate amount of influence: American mothers collectively spend more than $2 trillion per year.

In addition to having unique insight into a massive market, I think that Moms have a deeper level of empathy for entrepreneurs. There are so many parallels between starting a family and starting a consumer business — some that I truly get for the first time.

Trust your gut

There’s so much information available about how to raise a child. It’s overwhelming. I don’t know if I’m doing anything right because there’s usually no right answer. Data is helpful, especially everything by Emily Oster(her new book Cribsheet is exactly what I need). However, the data is limited and imperfect, even more so than usual. When it comes to children, there are far too many variables, and it’s nearly impossible to ascertain causality. I think the same thing is true at startups. And, at some point, moms and entrepreneurs must trust their guts, especially in the early days.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst

I’ve realized that nothing is predictable with a kid — it’s never what you expect to go wrong that actually goes wrong. I’ve experienced new highs of chaos (everything seems out-of-sorts all at once) and calm (not much fazes me anymore). In this ambiguous world, all I can do is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. That’s the approach that I now bring to work, and it’s what I’ve seen some very successful entrepreneurs do.

There’s never enough time

An entrepreneur and a parent have insane demands on their time. There are not enough hours in the day to get everything done, which means we have to prioritize. And, prioritization by force requires us to focus on the most important things first. I now see this as a blessing.

It takes a village

When my daughter was born, my mom came to stay with me for 6 weeks. I know it sounds like a lot, but I bawled (loudly, with no shame at the airport) when she left. Afterwards my mother-in-law came over for 4 weeks. My brother visited as well; with no kids of his own, he has a magic touch when it comes to putting babies to sleep and making them laugh. And, my husband has been a rock. These people are part of my village. A village doesn’t need to be massive, but it is absolutely necessary in growing anything (kids, communities, businesses or teams). We all need a village. A village helps get sh*t done.