Saturday, March 8, 2014

I'm Going to Meet Mom Inc.

I thought it wasn't going to happen. The Fairview Library was still closed since late January due to flooding and a free session I really wanted to go hosted by Mom Inc. was scheduled there for yesterday. Pure stroke of luck, as my youngest Matias and I strolled through North York Central to get something to eat and to shake a leg, I happened upon their library and thought I'd just ask about it. The librarian did a quick search and found out that it was still being held but at the Women's Community Centre in the building next door to Fairview. Cool, I thought, but could I go? My husband rarely comes home before 7:30 and this was really short notice to be there for 7. I made the call and he assures me he'll be home well before to give me time to drive there.

Okay, my mind spins quickly- pick up the twins earlier from Montessori so I'd have plenty of time to get home, change, cook and feed everyone including myself and to put a little make up on and look presentable. It was my first meeting like this in a long time, since I've been staying at home with the kids. I had a feeling it will be a small group.

Whenever, there's little time to prepare dinner, my favourite go-to hands-down is noodles and dumplings. I always have a stash of dried chow mein noodles in my cupboards and at least a bag of frozen Chinese dumplings in the freezer for those can't-cook-from-scratch nights. From start to finish, dinner is on the table in 20 minutes, less I add another dish, which I did with a stir-fried baby bok choy dish to round everything out. Still, only a few minutes to do. A couple tablespoons of oyster sauce, and a jolt of soy sauce is all it takes to flavour these noodles, coupled with some sliced ham strips and green onions to fatten them up! My kids just love simple noodles and dumpling nights!

I see my husband from our window racing home from the corner bus stop. We literally passed each other on my way out, his way in, with me muttering a few updates on each kid about their eating progress and off I went. Ten minutes late is no big deal I tell myself as I enter the small room with a group of eight participants with presentation in full swing. Amy Ballon introduced herself and her business partner and best friend Danielle Botterell. These women finished school with their MBA's and pursued corporate careers on Bay Street. Things changed for them when they started looking at their personal and work lives differently and founded a company together producing design baby blankets and other apparel for babies. They have five children in total and the business began when they were both thinking about starting a family and the flexibility and control they desired while being moms. After selling their company less than two years ago, they are happily now consultants to other entrepreneurs looking to launch their business. Drawing from their experience doing it all while they were moms makes this venture all that more rewarding and more relatable for the many "mompreneurs" out there. Their 2011 book: Mom Inc.- How to Raise your Family and your Business without Losing your Mind or your Shirt documents stories from 200 other mompreneurs, giving you a sense of what they go through and practical tips and advice.
Whether it's a product or a service, some of the great learning's I took away from that hour were:
1) You need a physical business plan to map out your goals; looking at it once in a while will
     reinforce what you're doing, who your customers are and your targets;
2) Business planning and a business plan are not the same; business planning is on-going and let's
    you set short-term goals. The big business plan let's you know if you're getting there;
3) Use a calendar to pencil in your personal and business plans for the year. This will give you the big
    picture of when you are heavy, when you are lean to avoid conflict and to create more focus areas;
4) Network, network, network, especially if you are solo. There are lots of resources out there:
    social networking events, free government-endorsed business classes. You don't need an MBA;
5) Make sure your spouse is on-board and discuss time, family and financial issues upfront;
6) Have a non-cheerleader in your life to play the devil's advocate by listening to your decisions;
7) Have office hours, so people know when they could reach you, and when you can make a dead-
    stop to devote to family and other matters.
One thing is for sure, the mantra from these ladies were clear- once you've worked for yourself, you can't work for someone else! Something about it is so thrilling you'll never look back once you've made that step or in most cases leap. I made an easy decision to quit my corporate job three years ago to be home to take care of my young twins. I have since added a third who is now over two and have been a culinary consultant throughout that time. Although, it has been quiet on that front as I concentrated on raising my three children, I know that when the time is right to dive back in, I will not want to do it full-time with a company.
The world is such a different place now, the rules have all changed in regards to working and networking... having breathed the life of striking out on your own, and hearing about its profound potential and rewards from others, how could I rationally think of ever reverting back....?

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