Last night I attended a wonderful entrepreneur panel hosted by Collective-E. I've blogged a little bit about how Ladies Who Launch was one of the ways that I connected with other women entrepreneurs when I first thought of the idea for SavvyAuntie.com. Well Beth Schoenfeldt, co-founder of that company (and frankly my most favorite half), recently launched Collective-E - a collective of women entrepreneurs, along with my other friends, Katie Helmuth and Sabina Ptacin. And last night was one of their first events - and boy did it draw a crowd! I am so proud of these amazing women. SO proud!!
Now to be honest, I wasn't planning on attending. The panel of successful women entrepreneurs were moms - and the businesses they were discussing: Kidville, Skip*Hop, Patem Pads and Big City Moms, were all very mom-focused. Not being a mom, it wasn't as interesting to me as I would have preferred, but Beth is a good friend and told me I would meet great people if I attended - and I did. Beth is always right about these things and I thank her for persuading me.
But the panel was still very mom focused. There was lots of talk about how the women on the panel were stay-at-home moms looking for something to do and ended up with a very (very!) successful business. Or they were working moms that found a mommy product/service need-gap and wanted to fill it - and have! Each panel member explained how she had to balance being a mom and an entrepreneur - which I am confident is no easy task.
The other thing that these moms had in common was that they are married. One told of how she went to her husband for funding to seed the project (he was still working while she was home with the kids). Another mentioned that her husband was between jobs and starting this company together was the perfect opportunity for him. I've actually met her husband - a couple of months before I launched SavvyAuntie.com I interviewed with him for a marketing job at Skip*Hop. He's an incredibly successful serial entrepreneur, so I am sure he was welcome support and is a valuable partner. In fact, had it not been for the fact that the company's main products are diaper bags, for which I have little passion, I would have loved to work with him.
So here we had five incredible women entrepreneurs (Big City Moms is a sister team) who started their own companies, with children. But they also have husbands that support and contribute to their success. And I wonder: How many of these mompreneurs would have started these businesses without the (emotional, financial and skill) support of being married to their husbands?
I have often said that mompreneurs start businesses because they have children and auntrepreneurs start businesses because we don't. Still, even I delayed becoming an entrepreneur for years because I was hoping to have the support of marriage - which I still do not have - before I did. But in my late 30's - I realized it was time to take control of my destiny and start a company of my dreams anyway.
The good news is that I've never dated more. I guess happy people are attractive. The bad news is that I don't have the support (emotional, financial and skill) that comes with marriage. And boy could I use a hand (to hold).
So there's no one to hug when a great thing comes about. Or when I am stressed. There's no one to bounce ideas off of. Or learn from. Or get help from. Or share experiences with. Or to be proud of me.
The mom entrepreneurs at the Collective-E event last night joked that finding ways to work with one's husband is a panel discussion all in of itself. And I don't believe having a spouse as a partner is always easy. I am sure it comes with its own set of issues.
But having a partner to share life with makes having success that much more fruitful. I heard repeated again and again last night: "My husband and I...." "So I said to my husband..." "Our biggest mistake was that my husband and I thought..." Just having the luxury of sharing the entrepreneurial experience with a partner is something I am envious of.
At first, I wondered if these women would have started their businesses if there were single?
And then I wondered... would I have ever started my company if I had actually been married? Would I have been satisfied in just finding my love? Would I have needed to manifest this destiny if I were a wife?
And I wondered if my company would be more successful if I did have the support of a husband. What would he contribute? How would he be my other half?
But then I realized that the truth was, I never needed a Collective-Me. I just needed Me. And while I am working my tail off and have risked my life's savings on starting a business on my own, I have all the support (emotional, financial and skill) I need. I know that because I've done it. And am doing it. I seem to be all I *needed.
Which isn't everything I've always wanted.
But it's enough for now.
PS - Please use the comments section to tell me if marriage or non-marriage is a help or hindrance to your entrepreneurial ventures and aspirations. Men - this is for you too!
Please vote for SavvyAuntie.com in the Niche and Misc. Social Media category in the Mashable Open Web Awards! http://mashable.com/2008/11/05/open-web-awards-2/ Thanks!
*Notwithstanding all the friends, acquaintances and business colleagues who have and continue to support me. Thank you!)