Mothers can often be disadvantaged in various aspects of their life. When they bear children, they may spend a considerable period of their time at home taking care of their loved ones. Additionally, certain traditional, cultural, social, political and religious views have barred many women, and especially mothers, from attaining their true potential, especially when it comes to having a career outside their family life and commitments.
Even with these challenges, innumerable mothers have started and nurtured successful businesses – and many of these female entrepreneurs have braved these tough and often unforgiving procedures and turned their small business ideas into global outfits.
While beating the odds, these female entrepreneurs have started a small business or assumed pivotal roles in leading corporations that benefit the society. They have learned the art and science of work life integration. Here are the stories of seven most interesting and courageous entrepreneurs, who also managed their maternal duties at the same time – who do you find most enthralling?
Madam C.J Walker
Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company
Image Source: www.biography.com
Madam C.J. Walker is remembered in America as the first self-made female millionaire. She gained her fortune from making and marketing beauty and hair products specifically for black women. Hundreds of black women and men frequently visited her lavish estate in New York to purchase hair care products.
She was born in 1867 and died in 1919, having assumed the role of one of the leading philanthropists of her time. The fact that she was an unlikely entrepreneur cannot be overemphasized. Her parents, elder brothers and sisters were slaves. Luckily for her, she was born just after slavery was effectively abolished by the Emancipation Proclamation.
As fate would have it, Walker became an orphan when she was just seven years old. She then moved in with her sister and an abusive brother-in-law. At the age of 14, she got married ostensibly to escape her brother-in-law’s mistreatment.
Like many other black women, Walker’s hair was exposed to numerous ailments such as baldness and severe dandruff’s while she was growing up. This was caused by lye and other harsh ingredients from soap. This problem was accentuated by lack of proper bathing.
When her elder brothers, who were barbers, introduced her to hair care products, she developed her company that would ultimately employ thousands of women as sales agents. She trained many others to become financially independent. As she founded and ran a successful enterprise, she had to balance both work and family. She was a wife and mother of one daughter.
Martha Stewart Living Omnipedi
Image Source: www.biography.com
If Martha Stewart was asked whether she would become a successful entrepreneur when she was 10 years old, she would probably have laughed it off. At the time, she used to baby-sit children from three families, whose parents were football players. Her life’s breakthrough came when she was 15 after appearing in a Unilever television commercial. Later, she wrote a best-selling book, started a successful magazine and worked as an editor-in-chief.
In 1997, Martha obtained funding to buy several ventures related to her previous work. These included merchandising, TV and print portfolios that she later consolidated in a single company called Martha Stewart Omnimedia. She served as president, CEO and chairman.
The company was listed in the New York Stock Exchange in 1999. At the initial public offering, the $18 price of each share rose to $38 by end of trading. This effectively made Martha a billionaire, making her America’s first female self-made billionaire.
However, a financial controversy in 2001 saw Martha convicted for insider trading and was sent to jail for five months. She was barred from holding positions in any company for the following four years. In 2005, Martha Stewart made a publicized return at the helm of the company that she founded.
Her personal life experienced its fair share of ups and downs, as she married and divorced severally. Even so, she passed her skills to her daughter and thousands of other people that worked at her ventures.
Image Source: www.biography.com
Along with her husband Joseph Lauder, Estee was a renowned American businesswoman and entrepreneur. In 1998, she was the only female on Time Magazine’s list of the 20 most influential business personalities of the 20th century, thanks to her Estee Lauder Companies, a cosmetics outfit.
In 1988, she was inducted to the U.S. Business Hall of Fame in the Junior Achievement category. She was an astute businesswoman who was passionate for fragrances. Youth Dew, her first fragrance, sold more than 50,000 bottles within the first year of release. By 1984, her company reported the sale of 150 million bottles.
In 1933, the couple’s first son, Leonard was born. However, they separated in 1939 when the child was only six and remarried in 1942. A second son, Ronald, was born in 1944. Through the tough times, Estee Lauder was able to keep her company running. She died in 2004 of cardiopulmonary arrest at her Manhattan home.
Image Source: www.wikipedia.org
Cher Wang is an entrepreneur and philanthropist born in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei in 1958. Her father was the founder of a large company that manufactured and sold plastics and petrochemicals. She might have inherited the genes of entrepreneurship from her parents, as she founded and ran a successful mobile telephony company better known as HTC in 1997. It is believed she was motivated by the small business ideas given to her by her father.
This was not the first company that she founded. In 1987, she had co-founded VIA, a successful IT firm. She says that her success comes from her education at California’s College Preparatory School. In 1981, she graduated from University of California.
In 2011, Forbes named Wang alongside her husband, Chen We Chi as the wealthiest person in Taiwan. Later in 2014, Forbes named her as the 54th most influential woman on earth. By then, her company, HTC was selling one in every six smart phones in the United States.
Wang is a keen philanthropist, having donated millions of dollars to various community causes. The VIA company has a foundation referred to as Faith-Hope-Love. The foundation gave $28 million to establish Guizhou Forerunner College in southwest China. The college offers low-cost education to Chinese students from poor families. She hopes to establish more colleges in the future.
Additionally, she and her husband funded a program bringing together research students from Beijing’s Tsinghua University and UC Berkeley in California. The program seeks to promote psychological research for the benefit of both nations and beyond.
As an avid philanthropist, Wang gave 6,000 HTC Flyer tablets to 60 different high schools in her native Taipei city in 2012. Despite her involvement in business and philanthropy, she manages to have a family of two children. Like many female entrepreneurs, she tries to stay away from public limelight.
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She is an influential journalist, show hostess and entrepreneur born and raised in China. She started her college studies at Beijing’s School of English and International Studies where she studied International Economics. While she did well in all her subjects, she showed her leadership skills when she was elected Vice President of the school’s Student Union.
She won the Best Actress in an English play and served as mock hostess in different student presentation shows. Later, she turned down a job at China Great Wall Hotel in favor of a role in the then famous “Zheng Da Variety Show.” The director of the show insisted that he wanted a female student with college moderating experience.
She went on to attain celebrity status in her country. However, she ditched the role to study journalism at New York University in 1994. After that, she enrolled for a master’s degree at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Today, she is a member of the university’s International Advisory Council (IAC).
She graduated in 1997 and worked briefly at a number of media companies. In 1998, she introduced her own talk show dubbed Yang Lan Studio. Later in the year, she resigned to look after her children.
That break benefited her career, as she never really returned to employment. Instead, she and her husband Bruno Wu, purchased Leung Kee Holdings Limited, a company based in Hong Kong in 2000. They renamed it Sun Television Cybernetworks Holdings Limited. Later that year, the couple launched Sun TV.
The TV station focused its programming on education and entertainment, a delicate mix that was lacking in conventional Chinese television. In 2000, Forbes selected the TV station as one of the best small businesses in the world. It received the same recognition the following year.
The couple predicted tough times as competition loomed. In 2005, they announced a 51% donation of their interests in Sun Media Group to society. The proceeds saw the establishment of a charity called Sun Culture Foundation in Hong Kong.
To empower women, Yang Lan started a TV talk show called “Her Village”. It would later grow into a large community of multimedia professionals. Together with Celine Dion, Wang announced that she would set up a jewellery accessories company in China in 2007.
Few women entrepreneurs have the tenacity and influence that she wields. Her role in China’s media and women empowerment has been so pronounced that some perceive her as China’s equivalent of Oprah Winfrey.
Image Source: www.sfgate.com
Weili Dai is the only female entrepreneur who co-founded a company in the semiconductor subsector. For this reason, Forbes ranks her 95th most powerful woman as of 2015. She epitomizes the fact that any mother can turn a small business idea to a large venture.
She is the co-founder and president of Marvel Technology Group, one of the world’s most respected semiconductor companies. Before her breakthrough, she was employed in project management and software development at Canon Research Center America, Inc.
She is credited with awakening many women to be involved in scientific and technological careers. At the UC Berkeley, the Sutarja Dai Hall is named after her and her husband, Sehat Sutarja.
While CNN featured her role in leading other women in innovation, Newsweek ranked Dai among 150 women who inspire the world. She received the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Northern California Region in 2004.
In 2013, Forbes named her the 88th most powerful women in the world. Additionally, Embedded named her as one of the most influential women. The same year, she received New Silk Road Award from the esteemed California-Asia Council.
Among other notable awards are the Gold Winner for the 2014 Women World Awards and the Keepers of the American Dream by National Immigration Forum. Even as she engages in numerous entrepreneurship and charitable causes such as the One Laptop Per Child initiative, the mother of two manages a delicate work life balance.
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She is an American author and columnist with Greek ancestry. Arianna is respected for her role in co-founding the Huffington Post Media Group and working as the company’s CEO. For this reason, Forbes ranked her as the 12th most influential woman in media in 2009. In 2014, Forbes listed her as the world’s 52nd most powerful woman.
She was once a panellist at BBC Radio and TV. In addition, she briefly co-hosted the BBC’s late night programme called Saturday Night at The Mill. Along with Mary Matalin, Arianna hosted a weekly syndicated program called Both Sides Now.
By 2008, the Huffington Post was named the world’s most powerful blog by The Observer. However, she sold it to AOL in 2011, raking in some $300 million in the process. Although she ceased contributing on the website, she continued writing books.
Perhaps her most notable one is On Becoming Fearless, which was published in 2007. Her 14th book named Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder was number one on its first day at the renowned New York Times Bestseller List.
Apart from her involvement in media and broadcasting, Arianna has also been involved in politics. She competed against Arnold Schwarzenegger in a 2003 recall election for the California’s governor’s seat. Her husband too was a politician, having contended successfully for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992.
As she continues to inspire and motivate other mothers, she insists that everyone should observe a delicate work life balance. This was after suffering facial injury when she fainted in her office in 2007 because of overworking and exhaustion. The mother of two is easily one of the famous entrepreneurs who reach out to millions of people across the world in an effort to solve society’s challenges.
… And How You Can Too!
Now that you’ve read the inspiring stories of women who developed successful careers as ‘mumpreneurs’, here are some tips so that you can begin the journey of your own.
- Reconnect With Who You Really Are – There’s no doubting that you work hard as a mother, but remember it’s not all that you are. Many working mothers spend so much time focused on current work and parenting that they rarely give themselves time to stop and reconnect with their true selves. If you want to become an entrepreneur but you don’t know where to begin, then you need to give yourself some special time to determine what your strengths and passions are, as you may have forgotten them in the ‘struggle with the juggle’! A great exercise for this is the Eulerian Destiny.
- Eliminate All Distractions – If you’re a mother who wants to be an entrepreneur, and a successful one at that, then you need to eliminate all distractions. Even if it means having to lock yourself in the closet to make that happen, it’s crucial that you maintain a state of focus and flow in order to get more done. Your family needs to know when it’s your time to work, and when you are switching off to focus back on spending quality time with them.
- Use a Countdown Timer – Let’s face it, as a working mother, having time for yourself is rare. This is why it’s a great reason for you to use a countdown timer, and put the famous Parkinson’s Law to the test! Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for it’s completion”, which means that in order to beat the clock, you’re far more likely to get your work done on time. You can also bring your kids into the ‘game’, and use the countdown timer on them as well. As we know kids love games, so an example could be to ask them how quickly they can clean their room and then start the countdown. A countdown timer is a great way of getting things done faster than usual, and when it comes to becoming a successful entrepreneur, following through on the completion of your tasks is a must!
- Keep Your Chin Up – As an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t expect to win every time – although that would be nice. Whatever happens along the way, it’s important to have a positive attitude towards your business during both good times and bad. Focus on your wins, and learn from your losses!
- Create Work-Life Integration, By Showing Your Kids the Entrepreneurial Way – If your kids are complaining, then this is the perfect time to introduce them to what becoming an entrepreneur is all about. A lot of working mothers do their best to separate themselves from their children when building a business of their own. This may be hard to imagine, but I believe this is a time to engage your kids in whatever it is you do. If you operate from home, even better! Surprisingly, as you begin to creatively integrate your work and time with your children, you’ll discover that your kids will be far more understanding when they know what Mum does for a living. What’s better is that your children may just do whatever it takes to help in their own special way.
As a working mother starting out on your entrepreneurial journey, it can be tough to know where to begin. That’s why I’ve created a gift for you with 7 ways to get more organized, which will be of benefit to you as you get started!
All you have to do to get your copy of the eBook, is to let me know where you’d like it sent! Let me know the best email address below, and I look forward to sharing it with you.