Written By: Sanjana Yeddula
In recent years, entrepreneurship has grown to be a popular field that requires intensive knowledge, creativity, and most importantly, time and patience. In fact, a study done by the Kauffman Foundation --an organization aimed to empower individuals through education and entrepreneurship -- reported that the number of entrepreneurs over the past decade has soared drastically; approximately 550,000 Americans start a new business each month, adding to this upward trend.
Clearly, being an entrepreneur is a full-time job in itself, but the added responsibilities of being a parent does not make it any easier. However, just because both situations involve high-stress circumstances and irregular hours, it doesn’t mean that pursuing both simultaneously isn’t an option.
Believe it or not, many women pull off this seemingly impossible lifestyle and rise above the traditional description of motherhood. A study commissioned by American Express in 2017 reported that 11.6 million businesses in the United States were owned by women, 60% of whom have at least one child - a substantial growth from the numbers presented a few decades ago.
Reinvented had the chance to sit down with Rachel Trobman, co-founder and CEO of Upside Health. Since 2015, Trobman, along with her team, grew the user base of their product Ouchie, a mobile platform for chronic pain management, to nearly 10,000 users. She is also the mother of two daughters aged two and five. When asked about how she balances being both a successful business owner and a mom, Trobman said, “it’s not a matter of balancing both - I survive both. It’s really the only life I have known since my girls were born.”
There are millions of women just like Trobman, who maintain a healthy balance between their business and family. But what makes these statistics exceptionally impressive is that some women begin building their business from the ground up after becoming mothers. In 2015, with a young daughter, Trobman “had the genesis for Ouchie and began to really conceptualize the idea.” The next year and a half of tireless work with her team involved “putting together a prototype and reaching out to various patients and health groups to build a network of doctors.” Four and a half years later, Trobman has mastered the work-family balance as she has welcomed a new daughter and grew her business substantially.
Trobman explains that running a business means that she’s never away from her work; in fact, she claims that Ouchie has become like her third child. People often assume that being your own boss allows for flexibility that may be hard to find elsewhere. While this may be true, Trobman describes this schedule to also have burdens: “There’s a place in my mind that is always consumed by keeping Ouchie alive, just like my human children. Even though I have the flexibility of owning my own business in the sense that I am my own boss, I also have the burden of it. If I have to travel somewhere for work, I have to do it.” Despite this, Trobman agrees that entrepreneurship is an extremely rewarding path that allows her to pursue her passions in her day-to-day life.
Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for many mothers today to feel as though they aren’t spending enough time with their children. A study done by the Pew Research Center in 2013 showed that 23% of mothers say they spend too little time with their children, and 56% of mothers feel that managing the work-family balance is difficult. So how exactly do some pull it off? In both aspects of life, Trobman, like many other women, has learned to accept that “even though there will never be a separation from work, you have to learn your limits and make stress your friend.” Because everyone is so different, many experts suggest that the key is to listen to your body and adapt a schedule based on you and not from the pressure around you.
Many mothers have defied the odds and proved to be just as successful as, if not more than, their male counterparts. However, as Trobman puts it, “we still need to adapt to our ever-changing situations and support other mothers around us.” As we progress into the future, it’s important not to separate the ideas of a mother and entrepreneur; we should be broadening the definition of the modern entrepreneur to accommodate everyone.