Career 12 November 2017
Photo Courtesy of Texas Stem Cell
We work our whole lives to end up with a career that we love, but as women, we get to a certain age and know that our clock is ticking to have kids. If that’s a road that we want to drive down, taking some time off work is almost inevitable. If you’re lucky, you’re able to take maternity leave and return to the job that you love, but many women find that they love the title “mom” even more and decide to take some time off.
For some, the drive to return to the work force whether down the corporate path or through exercising our entrepreneurial spirit is so strong that we can feel our whole core telling us it’s time - which isn’t always the easiest thing to do. In fact, there have even been organizations created like The Pregnancy Pause that aims to help moms explain the gaps in their resume and not get passed over for opportunities. Yes, the struggle to balance it all is difficult for working moms, but there are some awesome ways to prepare yourself for this transition.
1. Update your skills.
Updating your resume is an obvious one, but really sitting down to update the skills that you have gained (yes, gained - moms make the best CEO’s after all because of their outstanding communication and organizational skills) and make sure they’re added to your resume. It is probably also worth your time to hire a professional to make sure your resume is top notch before you begin your search.
Photo Courtesy of Crosswalk
2. Touch base with former colleagues and working mom friends.
The best connections that you can make will always be through networking, so putting your feelers out there and seeing what insight or openings that former colleagues or working mom friends have is key. While they might not have a job to offer you, they might know someone to be in touch with to help get your foot in the door.
3. Be persistent about making your dreams come true.
Knowing that you’re going to be giving up your stay at home mom gig means that you don’t want to settle for just anything, and you most certainly don’t want to push aside your professional dreams. Karoli Hendriks, founder of Jobbatical, a career platform shared, “Having been in the confidence struggle, especially in the male-dominated tech world, I know how tempting it is to allow yourself to give up your dreams. I encourage women to step out from that comfort zone and tailor a life that can accommodate both - parenthood and professional growth. On that journey do not forget yourself. And doing both - professional growth as a startup founder and parenthood means in my case giving up a social life, but that is something I have accepted in recent years. I guess each of us makes our own sacrifices, but it’s worth it.”
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Mommy Chronicals
4. Be open.
While you don’t want to let those dreams subside, also allow yourself to be open to new adventures. Whether you have an amazing idea and want to start your own company or are interested in using your new skills to explore a new profession, see whats out there and be open to a completely different position that works with your life instead of adding stress to it.
With that being said, sometimes being open means taking a lower salary or starting from the bottom, which is okay as long as you have a plan and know where you want to end up. Sometimes even volunteering in the beginning will give you an opportunity to figure out where your passions lie.
5. Look into “return to work” programs.
Many companies such as Morgan Stanley offer these types of programs for people who have been out of the work force for two years or longer - many of which are women who have taken time off to have kids. These programs are amazing for getting back into the swing of things because the company already knows your situation and is working with you to get you back into a job you love.
6. Hire a caregiver that you love.
Hiring a caregiver that you love and trust is crucial to getting back to work after taking a pregnancy pause because you will never want to leave your kids if you aren’t fully comfortable with the person you’re leaving them with. It’s very important to interview caregivers or day cares until you find one that fully suits your family's needs. Having someone dependable in your life to leave your precious cargo with day in and day out takes a huge weight off your shoulders and is truly invaluable.
7. Take a little “test-drive”.
This could mean something different for everyone, whether you need to “test-drive” being away from your child for a long period of time, being in an office environment, dealing with clients - or even just going shopping work work clothes! Give yourself a chance to try things out because there’s nothing worse than not being prepared for that first back to work experience and wishing that you were actually home with your babe.
8. Own your new role.
It’s not always easy to jump out of our comfort zones, which being at home with your children can be. It’s also equally as easy to use motherhood as an excuse if we aren’t fully comfortable in our new role, but the best thing for yourself is to fully own the whole experience. Establish business hours that allow you to still have those mom moments that are so important, but whenever you’re “on” at work, fully embrace it. Yes, it will take some time to get there, but when you have, there’s nothing that will stop you. It’s all mental, but you will feel in your gut whenever everything is falling into place. Remember that moms are the ultimate CEO’s, we can handle everything put before us and have truly masted the art of multitasking - there’s nothing you can’t handle.
3 Min Read
"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.
I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.
Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.
Find A Need And Fill It
I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.
I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.
Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.
Have Working Capital And Credit
There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.
I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.
Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.
My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.
Know Your Product Thoroughly
I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?
My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.
My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.
Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!
More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.
Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth
I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.
I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.
Delegate From The Bottom Up
I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.
In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.