Blazing a New Trail

The conflict between work and life is here to stay. To get past it, we will have to let go of all notions of balance.

The conflict between work and life is here to stay, as are a myriad of suggestions for resolving that conflict. What these solutions all have in common is the goal of “balance.” That word sounds even-handed, but it rarely works out that way in real life. Unfortunately for most American employees, striving for work-life “balance” still means work wins, at least if you want to thrive in your career.

Current surveys show that the American workforce is increasingly dissatisfied with this state of affairs. Rather than continue to sacrifice their personal and family lives, millennials (both men and women) are choosing not to lean in, but to walk away. They’re going to new companies that offer genuine flexibility along with career advancement, or they’re choosing to become freelance workers or small business owners. In fact, it’s estimated that 40 percent of U.S. workers will be freelance/independent by 2020.

Opting Out of the Career Balancing Act

I am one of those millennials. After I had my son, I had to make a choice. While I was ready to fully embrace my new role as a mother, I didn’t want to fully abandon my career.

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I had worked hard (too hard, maybe) to climb the corporate ladder, and while I no longer cared about getting to the next rung, I fully intended to keep using the skills I’d gained.

Plus, I was in the same boat as more than 40 percent of mothers in this country who are the sole or primary source of income for their families. When I started my career, I followed my bliss and all the carrots that were dangled in front of me. I did what I thought I was supposed to do. We relied on my income after I got married, and I was fine with that. But I didn’t realize what it would mean later. After I had my son, I didn’t have the choice to not work.

Photo Credit: Palmeri Creative       Edited By: Kai-Saun Photography

But I also could no longer work in an industry or for organizations that didn’t understand the commitment that parenthood requires.

For me and so many other parents, entrepreneurship is a natural path for channeling our professional energies into something we care about—while preserving energy for the people we care about.

Still, without proper support, “parentpreneurs” (primarily women) will continue to struggle to take their businesses to the next level. The National Women’s Business Council points out that the growth rate of “women-owned businesses is almost four times the rate of men-owned businesses.” The vast majority of these businesses are sole proprietorships. But despite the explosive growth of female entrepreneurship, something is keeping women from achieving more. That same NWBC report notes that only “1.8 percent of women’s businesses scale successfully past the $1 million dollar revenue mark (versus 6.3 percent for men).”

Is it that women business owners aren’t as educated or smart as their male counterparts? Or could it be that those women who are moms are opting out of high-growth, high-revenue entrepreneurship to tend to their families in the same way that women are opting out of high-echelon positions in corporate America?

I believe that high-growth, high-echelon businesses, and strong connected families no longer need to be mutually exclusive. There is a better (more holistic) way. I refuse to choose between work and family. I choose both, and I’m not the only one.


Having a family and a personal life is an asset to a career, not a liability.

Integration: the Third Option

Parentpreneurs across the country are trying something new. We are choosing to see our family and personal lives as an asset to our careers, not a liability. We are integrating every facet of ourselves into our work life where we can, and we are choosing to work with companies and clients who acknowledge us as whole human beings, not one-dimensional business professionals.

But this can be a lonely path. Few opt to make this choice, and even fewer understand it. Every parentpreneur I talk with reports feeling like a misfit, misunderstood by working parents and stay-at-home parents alike.

With some like-minded partners, I’ve launched the MORE Movement to bring these innovative parentpreneurs together so we can share best practices, support one another, and feel more connected. MORE Movement is for anyone who refuses to choose between work and personal life, who insists there’s a third option, and who believes they really can do MORE.

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We invite you to join us. We’re holding our inaugural family-friendly business retreat this July in Arizona, where we’re demonstrating how we really can integrate family with business development. I’d love to see you there!

Why Two-Thirds of All Entrepreneurs Can’t Find the Support They Need to Succeed

Running a small business and raising a family are two of the hardest endeavors anyone can take on in a single lifetime.

Both require an exorbitant amount of time and constant nurture to grow. Both are concepts you can study before you dive in, but in both ventures, you learn most of it in the trenches.

As a small business owner, you can find support everywhere (regardless of the stage of your business – startup, scaling, etc) – city programs, public and private universities, non-profits, incubators, co-working spaces, accelerators, the federal government and even private corporations like Google.

As a parent, you’re responsible to keep another human-being alive, requiring vigilance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s really hard. But again, from the moment you decide to start trying (or stop preventing), you can find flyers, non-profits, blogs, magazines, Facebook pages, meetup groups, and counselors to support you.

As a society, we value each of these endeavors as important to our economy, to our communities, and to future generations and put tremendous effort into supporting those who dare to try either one. But most support programs address only one identity. Either you’re an entrepreneur who needs support running your business, or you’re a parent who needs support raising your child(ren).

“I sought out programs, groups, and companies for support but didn’t find any that met my needs as a new parent. I had a baby, who still needed my attention at home and a business. To grow, they both needed me.” ~ Amber Anderson, CEO Kayson

Today’s Small-Business Programs Miss 2 in 3 Entrepreneurs

Traditional programs tend to be:

  1. Time intensive. Most programs (i.e. startup week/weekends, accelerator events, university courses, etc.) requiring a significant time commitment, assuming that you a) have time to spare and b) can be 100% focused on your business at all times. Attending these events is impossible for parents who work in their businesses and care for their children.
  2. Require you to be in a physical space. Most programs are in downtown areas or require you to go to a physical space, posing big challenges for parents who reside in the suburbs.
  3. Unaffordable. If they don’t require a sizeable financial commitment, programs usually require time or a stake in your business. This is unrealistic for many and unnecessary for some.
  4. Culturally, socially and/or emotionally a poor fit.  Every entrepreneur’s reality is different. Race, location, and gender all play a part in the way they see things and the obstacles they face. Most programs are either segregated (for women, African-Americans, LGBT, etc), or they are run by white men. This makes finding a program that accommodates multiple affinities nearly impossible.

According to a Kauffman Foundation report on the Anatomy of an Entrepreneur, 59.7% of the entrepreneurs surveyed indicated they had at least one child when they started their business and 43.5 percent of those with children noted they had two or more children. More than half of these entrepreneurs has come to a crossroads where they feel forced to choose between parenthood and their businesses.

“With 92% small business failure rate, it is VITAL that you trust good sound counsel from those who have a proven track record.” ~ Cherie Mathews, CEO, Healincomfort - Mastectomy Clothing

At this crossroads, a breakdown in support for entrepreneurs occurs for:

  1. Women, who despite all of the glass-ceiling-shattering progress of the past generation, continue to report bearing a heavier burden in balancing work and family, still tend to drop out of the race the fastest. As the primary caregiver, when forced to choose between business and their families, the majority of women choose their families.
  2. Minority groups, especially African American women (who are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the country right now), who fail at higher rates than their counterparts, usually due to a lack of support in multiple areas (funding, cultural, gender, etc.).
  3. Millennials, both men and women, who are prioritizing time with families over their careers and thus find entrepreneurship and existing support programs unattractive.

Those daring enough to parent and run a business at the same time – nearly 2/3 of all business owners – find traditional business programs to be outdated, exclusive, and inaccessible. And these are the groups who need them the most; parents, women, and minorities.

Filling the Support Gap

MORE by Kayson is a strategic initiative designed specifically to bring more awareness, support and resources to small business owners who are also parents (also referred to as “parent-preneurs”).

The MORE Initiative says that each of us is a whole person, with a family and personal life, and we need strategies that work with this reality rather than ignoring or against it. Amber Anderson launched the MORE Initiative to give parentpreneurs MORE of what they need to be successful—more time, more support, and more resources.

 
 
“I created MORE to give parentpreneurs an opportunity to stay in the race,” said Amber Anderson, founder of Kayson, a strategy company that specializes in helping businesses connect the dots so they can stay in business longer.
“We’re providing (or partnering with other organizations who offer) services, programs, events and resources designed to provide high-caliber entrepreneurs with the support they need to do MORE - more for their families, more for their businesses and more for their communities.” ~ Amber Anderson, CEO Kayson

MORE’s first event is MORE: the retreat, a 3-day, 2-night business retreat where participants can connect, relax, and grow personally and professionally alongside their family.

This event is designed to enable parent-preneurs to step away from the relentless demands of work to better themselves – professionally or personally or both – without sacrificing family time. Guests will leave MORE equipped to do more for their family, more for their business and more for their community.

The event takes place at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain on July 22-24, 2016. Space is limited.

 

 

The start of something MORE. Announcing a new initiative and our partnership with CO+HOOTS.


The beginning

the pursuit of something MORE.


For the last couple of years, we have been looking for ways to use our skills to do more. At the beginning of the year, we picked one problem and one organization to partner with to help solve that particular challenge. Then, we created a product that would bring about positive change in the community.

This activity – finding a problem and fixing it – is Kayson's way of giving back and supporting the people and businesses that keep this world moving. It's an initiative we call MORE, and 2016 is our first year.

Photo Courtesy: CO+HOOTS

Photo Courtesy: CO+HOOTS

The quest for the first MORE project began two years ago. At that time, we knew we wanted to do something, and we knew we wanted that "something" to be important and to have a substantial impact, but we weren't exactly sure what it would be. The only rules were that it had to include people, support families, help small businesses, and build communities.

We started with a discovery session, where we held a series of interviews and informal meetings, attended social events, performed market research, and created a list of potential challenges we could tackle. From there, we found a variety of issues that fit into three major categories:

  1. Work-related issues: Managing a career or building or launching a business.
  2. Life-related issues: Finding balance within oneself, personal growth, etc.
  3. Family-related issues: Raising children, taking care of elderly parents, etc.

From there, we started evaluating the various services that were in place to support people through these particular issues. The services were offered through non-profits, city programs, colleges, incubators, accelerators, chambers, co-working spaces, and religious institutions.


an opportunity

programs built around processes, not people


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What we found was that although there were a lot of services out there, they were all being run very independently and generally designed around a category (like business) — not around the people who needed them.

For example, the business groups were working diligently to help working professionals, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and business owners launch, scale and resolve business related issues. The life-focused groups were supporting personal development and growth by offering individuals the tools they needed to enrich their lives and address personal challenges. The family-focused organizations were all about bringing together the family and giving individuals the skills they needed to be better mothers, fathers, and caregivers.

Every group was pushing as hard as they could to support their cause. However, what we noticed was that very few were offering services that supported people's needs holistically and, as a result, were causing challenges or at times completely leaving out people whose needs crossed over multiple areas. For example, the "work"-focused groups were hell-bent on helping people be better at work by hosting events like startup week and weekends, conferences, networking events, and fun challenges, but in doing so, they failed to realize that the events they were hosting, as amazing as they were, were excluding certain groups of people, such as women and parents.

Meanwhile, the life- and family-related groups, as wonderful as they are, were not meeting the needs of working individuals who needed support in balancing life while also trying to keep up with the high demands of running a business and or maintaining a career. This is especially true for those that were supporting working mothers who now find themselves as the sole or primary source of income for their families (approximately 40% of all working women).

As a result, individuals who needed support in multiple areas were falling between the cracks. And that is where we found our opportunity to make an impact. By taking the data, we found we were able to identify a major gap in the work + life challenges debate that could be resolved easily with more people-centric programming.


People's lives are intertwined

their support channels should be too


We identified the individuals who needed support the most and found that they were working women, parents, and caretakers. Then we pulled in our friends and community gurus at CO+HOOTS — central Phoenix's first and largest co-working community and entrepreneurial collaboration hub —  to help us design a set of services, programs, and events to bridge the gap. And now, we're launching it!

Photo courtesy of CO+HOOTS

Photo courtesy of CO+HOOTS

 
Photo Credit: Kai-Saun Photography
 
CO+HOOTS’ recent expansion doesn’t just mean acquiring more physical square feet, it also means growing our reach in the community.

We want to support as many groups in the business community as possible.
— Jenny Poon, CO+HOOTS founder

working families need MORE

integrated services, programs and events

Building work-family integrated environments like MORE is just a natural evolution to keeping up with the needs, and wants, of today’s modern family.
— Amber Anderson, Kayson's Founder

Photo Credit: Kai-Saun Photography

Photo Credit: Kai-Saun Photography

The kick off event

MORE: the retreat

A Business + Family retreat, July 22nd - 24th, 2016

To kick things off, MORE is hosting its very first integrated business conference this summer. The first of its kind, the business retreat will bring together 25 working professionals, freelancers, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and their families for three days and two nights.

There will also be

  • childcare services onsite
  •  kid activities
  • photo sessions
  • a date night

Attendees will be able to

  • participate in business workshops
  • meet with industry experts
  • participate in personal and family development sessions and
  • learn about new business trends — all alongside their family.

... everything that a working parent would need to be able to do MORE.

After the retreat, we'll be launching a set of family-friendly networking events and educational programs this summer out of CO+HOOTS' new midtown Phoenix location.

Registration for MORE: The Retreat is now open, but space is limited. You can find out more information, and buy tickets, at www.moreretreat.com.