05/07/2015 12:14 EDT | Updated 05/07/2016 05:59 EDT

When Women Are CEOs at Home and at Work

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USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Portrait of female entrepreneur in workplace

As we get closer to Mother's Day, we embrace and celebrate the special women in our lives. For many, it's also a time of reflection.

Several years ago I embarked on what I thought was the journey of a lifetime -- entrepreneurship. More than six months ago I started an entirely new adventure -- motherhood. Prior to taking the leap for each milestone, it was impossible to know what to expect, so the combination together was particularly daunting.

These past few months I have learned there are many similarities between being a mother and entrepreneur. Common skills are drawn upon to run a growing home and business. It takes strong leadership, decision-making and communication skills -- just to name a few.

Working in education, I am a big advocate for seeking advice, knowledge and council from those with experience. To gain perspective, I decided to connect with professional women I admire who are also dedicated moms.

Looking after children and companies simultaneously is no easy feat, so whether you are there currently or are contemplating the jump, here are five key pointers from the experts.

1. Make a should-NOT-do list and stick to it

The first tip comes from the inspirational Julie Cole, co-founder of Mabel's Labels, the leading provider of kids' labels, and a proud mom of six. Yes, you read that correctly, six kids! We have all heard of to-do lists, but what about should-NOT-do lists? Julie recommends prioritizing what's important, as well as knowing when to let go. In order to maximize your time and productivity, it's important to be able to say no, by sticking to that should-NOT-do list.

2. You can have most of the things you want, most of the time

The next tidbit of advice comes from Amy Ballon and Danielle Botterell of Spark Consulting. These mompreneurs are on to their second venture after running baby-blanket biz Admiral Road, and have written the book -- literally (check out Mom Inc.)! I have heard prominent business women say, "You can't have it all."

This statement has always left me feeling a bit deflated, yet determined to prove them wrong. While chatting with Amy and Danielle, they shared their unique philosophy: "You can have most of the things you want, most of the time." They believe it is important to have a good mix, as things have to give on both fronts. Setting clear boundaries is key, as well as acknowledging that you can't do everything.

3. Know what you want and your definition of success

Although the definition of success is a personal one, all three experts agreed it is important to define what success is for you. Amy and Danielle explained, "It's important to know what you want to get from the experience, and if you're not meeting those goals, working to tweak them. If you don't know what you want, it's easy to get lost in the weeds. It doesn't matter what it is, but you do have to know, or you won't know if it has worked." Further supporting this statement, Cole adds, "You need to have some understanding of what success looks like to you in 6, 12, 18 months and be prepared to stick to it."

4. Always see the big picture

With Mother's Day upon us, I would be remiss not to include a piece of wisdom from an entrepreneur of 30 years, Rhona Sallay, who also happens to be my mom. She is the most humble and community-minded business woman I have ever met. According to Rhona, Founder of Teachers on Call, a personalized home tutoring service, "It's important to take the time to listen, step-back and understand the big picture. This will help ensure a positive outcome to accomplish your goals."

5. Enjoy the journey

To add to this extraordinary expert panel, I have my own tip to share. As a new parent you are warned children grow up fast. I feel the exact same concept applies to companies. My advice is to enjoy the small moments and milestones, as they grow up fast -- babies and businesses!


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