A couple of weeks ago I attended a trade baby expo and finally met Susan Lucci. Even if you have never watched a soap opera, you are bound to know that Ms. Lucci is the Leading Lady of Daytime Television, a TV icon for having played the role of Erica Kane for 41 years. When my family first immigrated to this country in 1974 my mom stayed home for the first couple of years and learned English by watching daytime soaps. And so did I. Erica was my Elmo.
So, needless to say I was star struck and moved to tears when I met her. But what really got me was that Susan Lucci wasn’t there to promote herself or her businesses, but to help her now adult daughter, Liza and her independent baby food making business, Sage Spoonfuls. Lucci was at the Sage Spoonfuls booth– dressed in a company tee– focused and handing out samples, answering questions about making baby food to expectant and new moms. In other words, working hard helping her family, a scene not unlike I witnessed at other expo booths that night and that I have seen before.
Now that I have been in the parenting space for several years what I have learned is that many small entrepreneurs make up the parenting economy. I like to call them parentpreneurs. Some people call them mompreneurs or dadpreneurs. You’ve heard of them, they come across a need for a product or service now that they are a parent and a business is created to fill it. Some of these home-grown operations become big businesses and other stay modest yet important. What I have found is that what they all have in common is that the parents behind them are passionate about the need they are serving.
Another distinction behind many of these companies is that they usually are real family affairs. Not only is the “face” of the company the entrepreneur mom or dad, but the extended family makes up the incredibly critical cogs that keep the business running, particularly in the early days. Sometimes that is as part of the business itself and other times it’s with helping the family so that mom and/ or dad can attend to their new fledgling company with peace of mind exactly when their business is in crazy start-up mode.
When I was first launching Alpha Mom I could never had done it without the help and tireless support of my own parents. As you know, one thing that you need as a parent is flexibility. Which is precisely the thing you don’t have when you are launching a new business, usually against a deadline. What saves you then is a crackerjack support system and in my (and many parentpreneurs’) case that was mainly family. There were too many nights and weekends when, for example, I needed to run out to an unexpected editing session or needed to respond to a sudden deadline. Luckily, my parents were always there to help out in a moment’s notice. I was no longer used to having to be dependent on my parents (that’s a topic for another day) but when I accepted it, I realized that I had an advantage in my pocket.
As I’m sure Susan Lucci’s daughter recognizes, having a member of your “team” who unconditionally loves and is invested in you and your business is utterly priceless. Time and flexibility is the edge young entrepreneurs have. Our secret weapon is our family.
Thank you, Mommy and Daddy.
Photo source: GMA