15 women on the surprising challenges of motherhood and entrepreneurship

As so many of us have experienced firsthand, when modern motherhood meets entrepreneurship, a variety of stories can unfold—stories of resilience, unexpected realizations, and the intricate balance of navigating two worlds. Until you step into these roles for yourself, the journey remains unpredictable and waiting to be explored. 

Related: I’m a mama and an entrepreneur—here’s what I’ve learned along the way

Though no two paths will ever be identical, I spoke with 15 women from the Dreamers & Doers collective to learn about the surprising challenges motherhood and entrepreneurship have thrown their way. Unexpected as they may be, these challenges often yielded long-term positive outcomes. “Give up on balance, find your center, and choose to be present in the moments you’re in,” says Willow Hill. “It’s the only way not to miss the magic that’s happening at work and at home.”

Whether you currently hold both the titles of “mother” and “founder” or will in the future, my hope is to showcase the powerful transformations that often weave their way in alongside the challenges. Merging motherhood with entrepreneurship is not easy, but as you’ll be able to see in the stories that follow, the potential for growth and empowerment is endless.

15 mom-founders share their challenges in combining motherhood and entrepreneurship

I underwent an identity crisis as a new mom  

I was surprised at the identity crisis I went through as I became a new mom. The transition involved reconciling my role as an ambitious entrepreneur with my new responsibilities as a mother. During this period, I discovered the concept of matrescence, which encompasses the hormonal, physical, emotional, and social transition to becoming a mother. The pivotal factor in navigating this transition myself was the conscious decision to disregard society’s unrealistic expectations of moms and give myself the freedom to prioritize my business when it’s necessary and my family when they need me most.”

—Loni Brown, Founder and CEO of Wholesome Nest

I face constant uncertainty and the weight of mental demands

Betty Ban, Co-Founder and CEO of Evermeal Labs

“As an immigrant mompreneur, one of the toughest challenges I face is the constant uncertainty and the weight of mental demands. Over the past year, I’ve adopted a morning routine that has profoundly impacted how I approach each day. I start my mornings with a grounding exercise. It’s in those moments that I find peace and tranquility. This practice has become my anchor, allowing me to approach my days with a sense of gratitude and unwavering focus on what truly matters. I’ve become better equipped to resist distractions, even when faced with demanding and urgent tasks.”

—Betty Ban, Co-Founder and CEO of Evermeal Labs

Related: My personal priorities have shifted since becoming a parent in unexpected ways

I can’t finish all my work after my kids’ bedtime 

Courtney Peebles, Founder and CEO of Solobo Toys

I was most surprised that I couldn’t fit all my work into the hours after my kids went to sleep. I worked hard to balance business and being a stay-at-home mom full time, but it ultimately resulted in my husband becoming a stay-at-home dad. On the flip side, now that things have changed, it’s allowed us to have more quality time with our kids since we can make our own schedules.”

—Courtney Peebles, Founder and CEO of Solobo Toys

It’s lonely building a brand and being a mother

Kelly Hubbell, Founder of Sage Haus

It’s a lonely journey. Figuring out which email marketing provider to use is like figuring out which car seat to buy: there’s a lot of noise, and no right answer. What is also surprising to me is that few people talk about the grit and the grind that it takes to build a brand, engage an audience, and find your place in the ecosystem. It takes effort, determination, and bravery. It takes building your own village of support around you, connecting with others who have come before you, and finding community. Lastly, there is no way I could be a solopreneur without the household village we have built for our family. This is exactly why I started Sage Haus. My ultimate goal is to help other parents go from surviving to thriving, spend more time with family, and do what they love.”

—Kelly Hubbell, Founder of Sage Haus

I had to grow and evolve as a mother and entrepreneur

Sarah Lambert, Founder of The Rosewood Agency

“Motherhood and entrepreneurship are the two most expansive journeys you can go on. Both require us to grow and evolve to be able to navigate with leadership and integrity. This is something no one really talked about and has turned out to be the most important part of both for me. Be intentional with your time and focus. It can be hard to compartmentalize, but you’ll struggle with balance and productivity if you try to be everything to everyone all the time. Allow yourself to be present when you’re with your family and then take guilt-free time away to work on your business.”

—Sarah Lambert, Founder of The Rosewood Agency

Related: 19 time-saving tips to help increase your productivity

I feel torn between the worlds of motherhood and entrepreneurship 

Jessica Sikora, Founder and CEO of SUPERBANDS

Being both a mother and an entrepreneur has been an incredible journey filled with surprises. Maybe the most unexpected aspect for me has been the constant undercurrent of guilt. Balancing the demands of motherhood and building a nonprofit from the ground up often leaves me feeling torn between two worlds. Despite achieving milestones in both worlds, the nagging sense of not doing enough for my son or my business remains a persistent thought. It’s a daily challenge to balance the demands of nurturing a growing organization and a growing family. I hope to show my son one day that anyone—even Mommy—has the power to change the world.”

—Jessica Sikora, Founder and CEO of SUPERBANDS

I did more parenting because of perceived flexibility

Marianna Sachse, Founder and CEO of Jackalo

“I think the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur with kids, especially in the startup phase, is that more parenting may fall to you because you set your own schedule and are your own boss. This can impact the rate at which your business grows if your partner has a job with less perceived flexibility. This can also lead to burnout if you end up burning the midnight oil to get things done that fell by the wayside due to family obligations. All of this together means it is critical to get a great assistant as soon as you can to keep things moving. Obviously, this changes the further along you get with your business, but it can be a shock starting out.”

—Marianna Sachse, Founder and CEO of Jackalo

I can’t give 100% to my kids and my business all the time

Kimberly Tara, Tax Strategist at The Tara CPA Firm, LLC

“It’s hard not being able to give 100% all the time. My kids are young right now, so I feel tremendous guilt when I’m working and ‘should’ be with them. On the flip side, when I’m with them, I feel guilty for not working. A big part of that guilt is I actually enjoy working and love what I do. I’ve realized that it’s okay to want to work and not feel guilty for being away from your kids. Something that also really changed my perspective was when I finally stopped telling clients that I have a meeting when I was really going to pick up a child. I set my boundaries and showed my clients that my family came first. Many of them resonated with that!”

—Kimberly Tara, Tax Strategist at The Tara CPA Firm, LLC

I’ve had to give up on balance

Willow Hill, Co-Founder of Scout Lab

“As both a founder and a new mother, I’ve found that chasing balance can be more harmful than helpful. Finding happiness means choosing to be present in whatever circumstance you are in rather than giving into guilt that, at any given time, you are not spending enough time on either your child or your business. Give up on balance, find your center, and choose to be present in the moments you’re in. It’s the only way not to miss the magic that’s happening at work and at home.”

—Willow Hill, Co-Founder of Scout Lab

I needed to recalibrate my high expectations 

Natalia Lumen, Founder and CEO of ThyForLife Health Inc.

“I started my venture while seven months pregnant with my first child, just before the onset of the pandemic. The most challenging aspect was recalibrating my high expectations. Suddenly, my days were frequently interrupted by the delightful presence of my baby. Working during her naps meant I had to reevaluate my approach, learning to ruthlessly prioritize, delegate, and let go of the need for speed. Now, with a few years under my belt and childcare support, the unexpected perks of motherhood manifest in my ability to stay present. My children, in their unhurried play and appreciation for life’s simple pleasures, taught me to embrace a slower pace and savor the journey of building a company instead of perpetually racing toward the next milestone.”

—Natalia Lumen, Founder and CEO of ThyForLife Health Inc.

I had to ask for help to thrive as a mom and entrepreneur 

Zahra Yarahmadi, Founder and CEO of BG Financial Consulting Group

“The amount of physical pain, responsibility, work, and tiredness surprised me. I had a traumatic delivery, and recovery took time. I felt alone and like I was failing. I realized I needed help and that asking for help is okay. That changed everything for us. Have a plan in place and ask for help from family or friends. If you don’t have them, hire help. You are not supposed to do it all by yourself. It doesn’t mean you are a bad mom or incapable.”

—Zahra Yarahmadi, Founder and CEO of BG Financial Consulting Group

I am constantly juggling priorities

Leah Dergachev, Founder at Austley

“One unexpected challenge I faced as both a mother and an entrepreneur was the constant juggling of priorities. Balancing the unpredictable demands of a growing business with the equally unpredictable needs of my children was more complex than I had anticipated. This experience, however, taught me invaluable lessons in flexibility, time management, and how to be present in each moment—whether for my family or my business. Thoughtfully evaluate where your business currently stands and set realistic goals that allow you to be present for both your company and your children. Remember: your business and your child are both your creations. Finding a daily balance between the two is essential for personal fulfillment and professional success.”

—Leah Dergachev, Founder at Austley

I daydream about not being an entrepreneur often

Kalyn Salinas, Founder of The Citrine Compass

“What has surprised me the most is how often I daydream about not being an entrepreneur. For years, all I wanted was to start a business in the travel space. I still look forward to growing my business every single day. I am immensely happy and fulfilled pursuing my dream. However, as my toddler grows and we expect our second this year, I find myself thinking that it would be nice to have the option to step away from work and just be a mama while my children are small. I wouldn’t walk away from my business in these early years, so all I can do is embrace the challenge and seek balance.”

—Kalyn Salinas, Founder of The Citrine Compass

I didn’t know how much my business would impact family dynamics 

Amy Peterson, Co-Founder and CEO of Rebel Nell

“Entrepreneurship can heavily impact family dynamics. Your business is your family; it is your love; it is a child in many respects. Your relationship with your business can be confusing and have a tremendous impact on your real children. I was shocked to learn how much my son was observing and experiencing the challenges and triumphs along with me. It has certainly influenced his perceptions of work, gender roles, and success. Be gentle with yourself. There is so much pressure in owning and operating a business. Now you have the added pressure of taking care of a child who needs you too.”

—Amy Peterson, Co-Founder and CEO of Rebel Nell

I feel an intense pull each day to be with both my child and business  

Megan Gopp, Founder of The Adventure Agency

“What has most surprised me about being a mother and an entrepreneur is the intense pull to be there for my child all day while also being a great leader and business owner. Pre-baby, I thought I had it all figured out: daycare for the baby while I dedicate my focus to my business during the day. I wanted to be wholly present when I was in my business and wholly present when I was with my baby. Now that I’m living it, I’m finding it hard to want to separate the two. Do your best to prepare ahead of time to set yourself up for success. Try not to have stringent ideals about how you want your new life to be. Entrepreneurship and motherhood are both beautiful, fluid, amazing, challenging, fulfilling, and difficult, but they’re also so, so worth it!”

—Megan Gopp, Founder of The Adventure Agency

All individuals featured in this article are members of Dreamers & Doers, an award-winning community that amplifies extraordinary women entrepreneurs, investors, and leaders by securing PR opportunities, forging authentic connections, and curating high-impact resources. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and get involved here.

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