My business, Stroller Strides, is run by moms for moms. Our franchisees are predominantly moms who have a passion for fitness and motherhood. But more than anything, they are moms who want to have careers that are supportive of motherhood. They want careers where it's OK to say that family is first. Our franchisees tell us they average no more than a few hours of work per day and, during most of those hours, they work at home or have the baby in tow. For all these reasons, we are one of the fastest-growing franchises in the country year after year.
Other businesses should consider employing this strategy. Our rocket-fueled growth proves that women are looking for flexible careers that fit with their family. Our franchisees are not just fitness professionals. They cover the gamut from stay-at-home moms to accountants and attorneys, from artists to teachers and nurses. All find themselves taken aback when the career they built or studied for doesn't fit the way they want their life to look as a mom. They are sad when employers won't offer flexible work solutions. They are surprised when they hold their babies and realize they don't want to go back to a traditional job. This does not mean they don't want to work. In my experience, many moms still want to contribute, to have something that stimulates and rewards them professionally. They just don't want to do it at the expense of their family.
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If you are a mompreneur growing your own company, consider creating career opportunities that fit with motherhood. It may boost your company's growth, just as it has boosted mine. Your business might not sell mommy-friendly careers like mine does, but your company could offer employment opportunities that do.
How can you create a career opportunity that is supportive of motherhood?
- Offer flex time. Does it truly matter what hours an employee works, so long as the job gets done? Consider offering positions that can be done anytime, rather than during traditional office hours. Of course, it won't work for every position, but it works for many.
- Offer job shares. You may be able to get two moms to share one position. What's the benefit to you? Loyal and passionate employees. Plus, you won't have to offer full-time benefits.
- Nurture a guilt-free workplace. Create an environment where employees can go home to care for sick kids, attend school plays, etc. Consider office hours that fit with school hours and, if possible, close the office during school holidays. Our employees know they can go "be mom" when they need to without guilt or excuse as long as they get their work done later.
- Encourage BYKTW (bring your kid to work). If possible, create a child-friendly work environment where employees can bring their kids to work. Offer nanny share or child care so your employees can feel close to their kids but still be able to get their work done.
- Go virtual. Offer your employees web-based business centers such as <a target="_blank" href="http://www.earnware.com/">earnware.com</a>, web meetings such as <a target="_blank" href="http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/live-meeting/"> livemeeting.com</a> and web-based phone systems such as <a target="_blank" href="http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/home">skype.com</a> so they can easily work from anywhere.
All of these solutions provide fringe benefits to you as an employer. You may be able to pay employees less if you offer these perks. You won't have to provide the same kinds of benefits that you would for a full-time employee. I have had the benefit of working with the most talented and loyal team of women because they had the opportunity to work in a family-friendly environment.
After nine years in business, we now need to transition to more traditional work settings and expectations for our corporate office. I am proud of all the years we were able to offer mom-friendly flexibility to our employees and their families. But I am even more proud that we are able to continue these career opportunities for our franchisees. For them, it will always be a business by moms for moms.