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National Small Business Day and Mother’s Day 2024

small business day and mother's day

This year, Mother’s Day (May 12) arrives on the heels of National Small Business Day (May 10).

While these observances are not directly associated, I don’t see them as completely separate.

This starts with my own experience of having had seven amazing and beautiful women in my direct family (most of them being mothers): a working mother, my mom’s best friend who was single and raised me like her own child with my mom, a working mother-in-law, two working sisters, a working wife, and two working daughters.

The dedication and entrepreneurial spirit of these women shaped the way I live and the way I view the world. They instilled and reinforced in me the resilience and strength that enabled my own entrepreneurial journey.

I also think of the women I got to work with and learn from in my professional life, most notably, the rockstar women of e-Nor, without whom I couldn’t have grown and sold the business.

In the current phase of my journey, in Start Up With Feras, I’m helping aspiring entrepreneurs begin their new ventures on solid footing so they can build to 7 or 8 figures.

In this context, I’m sharing the following thoughts on entrepreneurship and motherhood.

These perspectives are offered in broad strokes. It goes without saying that people’s individual circumstances, experiences, and approach to all aspects of life vary broadly.

It’s more challenging for parents (and especially mothers) to start and grow their own business.

Starting your business is hard work. It’s demanding, 40-hours/week won’t cut it if you’re serious about scaling the business.

For parents with young children, the extra time commitment that entrepreneurship demands may not be feasible.

Mothers in particular, on whom more of the household and child rearing responsibilities tend to fall, often find themselves in a tenuous balancing act with work commitments, all the more if they’re trying to start and run their own business.

I advise all entrepreneurs to plan adequately before getting too deep into a new business. For entrepreneurs who are mothers, this advice is even more emphatic.

Plan ahead. Make sure you have a support system, ideally including a caring partner who can take on additional responsibilities, or someone in your circle who you can depend on when the going gets tough.

The remote paradigm and technology can help.

As some good news, the flexible working hours and location afforded by the remote working revolution can be a boon to many types of early-stage entrepreneurs, including mothers (and fathers) with young children.

You can start with a part-time side-hustle, and as the business grows and as revenue/profits increase, you can bring on additional help and gradually move the side-hustle to a full-time business (potentially with physical offices).

Technological advances can also provide time-saving advantages for early-stage entrepreneurs.  You can use AI and automation in making your internal processes more efficient (for marketing, sales, content generation, and all aspects of research), and you can identify creative ways to embed AI in your offering itself.

Risk taking is part of entrepreneurship.

Based on my own informal observations, women take fewer risks than men. In many cases, this is not a bad thing (e.g. higher rates of gambling addiction among men).

But risk-taking is a cornerstone of entrepreneurship. When you’re building a business, you’re confronted by many unknowns. Taking a loan requires risk. Hiring people requires risk. Taking the leap into your own business to begin with requires risk.

I’m in no way promoting heedlessness or impulsivity for anyone in any situation. Being reckless in your decisions is a quick way to send your business down the drain. Being prudent and seeking the advice of others, especially those who have been to where you want to go, will help you approach risk in a calculated way and build that risk taking muscle.

But no risk, no business.

Financial literacy is critical.

While we have made some strides in financial literacy as a society, some studies indicate that 45% of the population in developed countries (the so-called G7) haven’t attained financial literacy, with women coming in 8 percentage points lower than men.

These statistics, of course, do not apply evenly to all segments of the population. Factors such as education, income, and demographics tend to correlate with financial knowledge and behavior. In any case, it’s important to recognize the deficiencies and the gaps so we, as individuals, can be prepared.

If you’re an entrepreneur, master financial literacy as it pertains to business. From funding options to equity considerations to profit and loss and balance sheets and generally keeping a close eye on cash flow, strong financial literacy on the part of the business owner is critical for the survival of the business (and in some cases even to protect their personal finances).

For the record, my accountant for many businesses and my personal financial advisor are both women, and they continue to teach me and advise me on all things related to finance. 😃

Take advantage of specialized resources.

Many entrepreneurs are not aware of local, state and federal programs and loans available to support small businesses and women-owned businesses that banks do not directly offer. Start by checking SBA resources for women-owned businesses.

And if you happen to be selling to the government, it may be helpful to know that 15% (or 76B in 2023) of federal contracting dollars must go to small, disadvantaged businesses.

Build awareness of all resources that are available to you, and don’t miss out.

Salute to entrepreneurs, and to mothers.

On this National Small Business Day and Mother’s Day, above all, I’m sending out my admiration and gratitude to all entrepreneurs and all mothers.

Where would we be without them?

Feras Alhlou

Feras Alhlou

Feras has founded, grown, and sold businesses in Silicon Valley and abroad, scaling them from zero revenue to 7 and 8 figures. In 2019, he sold e-Nor, a digital marketing consulting company, to dentsu (a top-5 global media company). Feras has served as an advisor to 150+ other new startup businesses, and in his current venture, Start Up With Feras, he's on a mission to help entrepreneurs in the consulting and services space start and grow their businesses smarter and stronger.

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