Balancing motherhood and startup life
The UTS Startups community is a hugely diverse one – and among the cohort of student founders are a group of mothers who are forging successful careers whilst supporting their families and their new businesses.
Being a parent and being a founder of a startup are two huge commitments – doing both at the same time seems like an ambitious choice, but for these women, launching a business was the best way to manage having children and pursuing a career path.
UTS Business and Law alumna and founder of UTS startup Resolution 123, Carly Stebbing, had been working as the partner of a law firm for many years prior to having children. But traditional legal work became incompatible with her life after the birth of her first child.
“I went on a journey to find other work. I thought working in-house might be better or maybe working in a big corporate firm, but I quickly worked out that wouldn’t give me the type of flexibility that I wanted and it also just wasn’t very exciting for me.”
Carly Stebbing had been thinking about starting her own business for a number of years and didn’t want to give up a career she felt passionate about. Launching her own business became the answer to flexible work, continuing the career she loved and enjoying her role as a mother.
“Is it hard? Yes. But being a lawyer is hard. So, the flexibilities and benefits gained by going out on your own can be great,” she said.
Support is key
It’s no secret that running a startup is challenging and the mums of the UTS Startups community know better than anyone that in order to succeed, support is crucial.
Entrepreneur and PhD candidate of UTS Graduate School of Health, Lydia Moussa founded her startup, The Change Hub, after having her second child and throughout her journey of raising children and building business, she has come to value her support network above all else.
“If you have a support network, don’t be afraid to ask for help because that’s the only way that you can really do as much as you can,” said Lydia.
The difference a community makes
The UTS Startups community has been a major part of balancing multiple responsibilities for female founders with children.
“The entire startups community has helped me tremendously. The help is very much when I need it, it’s not imposed on me and it’s not their time frame, it’s in mine,” said Lydia.
UTS Business alumna, Vanouhi Nazarian, is the founder of Kindershare, a marketplace that helps parents earn extra income and reduce waste by renting underutilised baby equipment.
For Vanouhi, working from home isn’t an option so having the UTS Startups collaborative spaces has provided her with an environment that allows her to be independent and productive.
“It is impossible to run a business from home when you have kids. By having a space to come into, I have a mind-set change as I walk in through the doors and am ready to work,” said Vanouhi.
Carly Stebbing says that being a mother and entrepreneur often means bringing the kids to work and agrees that a supportive community has allowed her to embrace that flexibility.
“The fact that the UTS Startups community is so supportive of women being part of the community and understanding that we have caring responsibilities – often primary caring responsibilities – and the fact that they identify and respect that is incredible.”
Despite the challenges, Carly, Lydia and Vanouhi believe it’s possible for other mums to embrace entrepreneurship and start their own business.
“It’s definitely possible. It’s a lot of persistence and resilience to get through it especially because you can face many set backs and it can be extremely discouraging. But know when to keep going and when to just call it a day,” said Lydia.
Carly Stebbing says the startup community has taught her to question and validate her decisions and suggests other mums do the same if they’re thinking about launching a business.
“My overriding advice to anyone asking whether they should take the leap is not an unequivocal ‘yes’, it’s ‘why’? Why do you want to do it?”
For Carly, the decision to launch Resolution123 has meant quality time with her family and a fulfilling career.
“When my daughter asks me why I have to go to work I don’t say “because I have to”. Instead I’m able to say “because I want to, because I enjoy what I’m doing and I’m helping people and that’s important”,” she says.
For Vanouhi, the rewards of pursuing a career that is inspiring and exciting is well worth the effort.
“Nothing is as hard as raising a child, but like parenthood, there is not much that can top the experience of seeing something you created grow,” said Vanouhi.
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