By Major Sunil Shetty, SM (Retd), CEO at Askmentor.com
The Covid-19 pandemic is impacting lives, communities and livelihoods across the globe like never before. The human race is doing its best to adapt and survive the onslaught of the coronavirus.
The SARS CoV-2 or the ‘Wuhan’ virus unleashed an unprecedented global terror attack on the human race without discrimination. In time, when the dust settles down on the pandemic (keeping fingers crossed), and the world begins to take stock of events around the pandemic — the global canvas will showcase stories of human endurance, sacrifice and togetherness.
As the pandemic mutated into second and third waves across the globe, we are witnessing frontline warriors continue to save human lives at the cost of their own, volunteers and good Samaritans joining forces to contribute personal time and money to battle against the virus. And, nations collaborating like one global family in the true spirit of Sanskrit phrase Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which means ‘the world is one family’.
Amongst the chaos and struggle, a small group of mompreneurs- mothers who run their ventures- are working tirelessly to maintain personal and professional sanity by striking a balance between home and their business.
On the occasion of mothers’ day, I reached out to a few mompreneurs from different backgrounds, geographies and demography to understand how they balance between two worlds — home and office. I delve into details on what did they learn or unlearn during these lockdowns? In their experience, what benefited them the most; work-from-home or regular office shift? Their experiences, lessons and tricks are shared below for the benefit of other mompreneurs.
Let’s get to it
1.Doing it all needs unlimited Positive energy: Deepthi Rao, a mompreneur, lives and runs her education venture in Warangal, a tier-II city in Telangana. According to Deepthi, her day “typically begins at five AM and ends at ten PM.” In her 17 hours schedule, she manages domestic responsibilities, including two young kids running an education institute with nearly 150 students. All of this while maintaining her family traditions.”
Deepthi credits agnihotra — an energy invoking ritual — for her “unlimited supply of energy” that is helping her sustain through the pandemic challenges. “To overcome the pandemic requires loads of positive energy.” Thus, “I perform agnihotra each day at the time of Sunrise,” says Deepthi.
2.Reconnecting with NextGen, Restructuring Business: Sunila Desai, a mompreneur, lives in Chennai city, runs a garment accessories business, says “lockdown provided an opportunity to reconnect” with her children who are in their youth, leading to understanding their world, challenges and needs; of the “next generation.”
On the business front, Sunila says, for the first time in two decades of “business journey,” she had to restructure her business model that included doing away with outsourcing work to save on costs.
3.Managing two ends of a spectrum:
Sapna Kartik, a mompreneur based in Hyderabad city, runs a social venture that undertakes social reform projects. She does not believe in dividing time between work and home. While taking on a task, she gives all the time needed to execute a job in hand and then switches to the next required role, be it a mom to an eight-year-old or a social entrepreneur who has set sight on bringing reforms.
According to Sapna, her venture works at two ends of a spectrum, “sometimes there is a lot of work and sometimes none,” so she plans to well-balance the two extremes based on priority which has worked well for her.
4. The trick: Adjust the timing of both roles to avoid clash:
Dr Anasuya Roy is a mompreneur from Delhi who runs a nanotechnology company that manufactures covid safe and health-related products. Dr Roy sharing a trick on being a successful mompreneur, says, “it is like managing two babies at a time. Each has its own schedule, and the trick is to adjust the timing of both in a manner where they don’t clash.”
The pandemic lockdown and subsequently the work-from-home culture worked in Dr Roy’s favour as she could give time to her 18 months old son “Entropy”. She further adds that in her case,” both roles” as a mother and as an entrepreneur complement each other, and she was able to turn that extra time saved from not going to the office into “mom-baby time.”
5.Not giving up on her staff:
Aartee is a single mom and an entrepreneur who runs an accessories manufacturing company based in Hyderabad that caters to the global formal wear market. On the personal front, Aartee says, “I have always maintained balance between home and business even at the cost of my time,” thus, on “this front, it wasn’t anything new, especially now, as my children have grown up.”
For Aartee, her business is her third child and the most troublesome right from the beginning. Though she has overcome numerous challenges in the last two decades, this pandemic has dealt a big blow. Her heart bleeds for her staff, whom she treats like her children, as their livelihoods are impacted.
“Due pandemic business has declined by over 70 per cent,” which has led to job losses, mostly among daily wagers and migrant workers. “Last year, I did bulk manufacturing of face masks at cost-to-cost just to ensure my staff had work,” says Aartee. She is not giving up on the staff whom she refers to as “my children.” Her quest to rehire her employees is on, and she is determined to have them back at the earliest.
Talking to mompreneurs made me understand that their maternal instinct sets them apart from other entrepreneurs. And it is deeply ingrained. Thus, they tend to take complete ownership of their staff and business and nurture it and protect it, at times at the cost of their time and comfort.
Happy Mothers Day!
The author is an Indian army veteran, entrepreneur and a war journalist. He now runs Askmentor, a platform to facilitate networking between mentors and mentees. It is a professional social network that matches entrepreneurs to advisors and resources. Wantrepreneurs and Entrepreneurs, irrespective of the stage of their idea, can connect with the author at Sunil@askmentor.com.