In the 21st century, woman are growing their pivotal role in the economic, political and social fabric of America and the global world. We believe with confidence that women will lead us toward a better future with their expanding influence in business, politics and social causes as well as their continued leadership in our homes and communities.
Our company, BabyVision, was co-founded by an Indian-American woman (my mom!), who was a first-generation immigrant to America. Her story is an example of the hard-work and struggle so many women endure to balance managing their professional career with their caregiver role to their children.
In today’s blog post, we will share details of women in the workforce and women in entrepreneurship that you might not already know, our company’s story and role played by our co-founder, and tips and advice for new moms and women looking to start their own ventures while juggling many responsibilities at work and at home.
When reviewing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, several conclusions are clear:
- First, women are kicking butt in the workforce and in entrepreneurship! Today there are 74.6 million women in the civilian labor force and 47% of U.S. workers are women. Women own close to 10 million businesses in America, generating more than $1.4 trillion in receipts.
- Second, working moms are playing a critical role in business and bread-winner in their household. Moms today are the primary or sole earners for 40% of households with children under 18 today, compared to 11% back in 1960.
- Third, women’s participation rate in the labor force has increased steadily since World War II. Their workforce participation rate has jumped from 32.7% in 1948 to 56.8% in 2016. Women in the workforce with college degrees has nearly quadrupled since 1970. More than 40% of women in the labor force have college degrees in 2016, compared to only 11% in 1970.
- Fourth, despite all of the above, women are still earning less than men for the same work. The chart below from the U.S. Census Bureau reflects this finding across every occupation.
We think women will continue to expand their influence and leadership roles across all of society and hopefully we will keep moving towards a more just world where women are making the same amount as men for the same positions and work!
While women have been making steady gains in the workforce, they have also had increased presence in both management and entrepreneurship. We see it every day in the baby-care industry, where a new mom identifies a problem when raising their little one(s) and finds no solution in the market, generating the spark for her new start-up company.
Our company, BabyVision, was formed by my parents when they purchased the business assets and licensing rights from Hasbro Toy Company back in 1998. My dad was director of operations and finance for the baby clothing and accessories division of Playskool when Hasbro decided to close that failing operation. My parents invested every last penny they had in the business along with borrowing from family and friends. They took a huge risk, especially with three children.
While my parents were not product visionaries, they knew how to turnaround Hasbro’s business by creating a diversified product offering of baby essentials, building our own company-owned brands, running a low-cost operations by focusing on efficiency, having a nimble and hard-working organization, strong and disciplined financial management and learning from mistakes and adapting quickly.
My parents have both played critical roles in the success of our business, but our focus today will be on my mom, Malti Shah, since she has masterfully managed to balance raising three children at home while also playing such a large role in the success of BabyVision. Malti is a Certified Public Accountant and manages day-to-day operations and finances at BabyVision.
What are a few of Malti’s tips for a new mom looking to start her own venture?
- Know what your goals are at home and at work. For me, I have always known my first priority is at home because being there for my family gives me ultimate satisfaction. The decision to invest our time, energy and money in building BabyVision was about giving our family financial security so my kids could focus their lives on what they wanted. Fortunately, I am now working with my kids to support them as they try to grow our business further.
- Working capital, cash flow and profitability in business are critical to lasting success. Unless you are a Silicon Valley start-up or a services company, businesses get in trouble when they are not laser-focused on managing working capital, cash flow and profitability. Even though BabyVision has always been profitable, we have struggled with cash flow challenges every step of the way. Growth requires us to invest more money every year in working capital and we have to pay a lot of our profit in taxes. Make sure you understand the cash needs & dynamics of your business as you grow.
- Build over the long-term and be content not living a lavish lifestyle. Building a business and family simultaneously is hard-work. You do not have to build it overnight. Sometimes trying to build it overnight can be risker. We come from humble beginnings and my approach has always been slow and steady wins the race. We also live a relatively modest life so growing the business has nothing to do with needing to maintain an expensive lifestyle. Sure, we have a nice house and car, but we live within our means and our happiness is not dependent on money and things.
As my brother and I now work to grow our business with our parents help and guidance, we realize the importance of keeping our mom’s tips in the center of our minds. We experience many of the same day-to-day challenges my parents have faced when they operated the business and we know the central tenets of operating a business do not change significantly, even as you scale for the next phase of growth.
We are also inspired by the many successful startup founders who also have title of Mom. Business Insider recently shared 15 moms who also started startups. Their experiences building their businesses and families simultaneously are helpful as new moms think about starting their own ventures.
The rising role of women leaders across all levels of society is a positive for our communities and businesses. Below we share from Business News Daily 17 reasons why women make great leaders.
They value work-life balance.
“Women are great leaders because we are able to balance professional and personal leadership skills. It’s easier to approach a women leader with a personal request, or a sensitive question. I care about my team and their well-being, which includes their performance at work and their work-life balance. I also find women more proactive in becoming mentors, and sometimes it’s already such an open and communicative relationship that the transition to mentor is easy.” – Amy Killoran, creative manager, I Love Travel
They are empathetic.
“Most women are naturally empathetic and value relationships. This enables them to have a strong understanding of what drives and motivates people, and how to acknowledge different people for their performance.” – Anna Crowe, CEO and founder, Crowe PR
They make great listeners.
“Women make great leaders because we take the time to listen instead of reacting right away. We appreciate people and their viewpoints. Whether they are right or wrong, we hear them out and then make our decision. We tend to give people chances that no others do.” – Jo Hausman, career and leadership coach and author, “Go For It! A Woman’s Guide to Perserverance” (Best Seller Publishing, 2016)
They are nurturing.
“One of the key aspects of leadership is the ability to help your team members develop their own skills and strengths. Women are naturally nurturing, which in the best scenarios can translate to helping those around you succeed.” – Marilyn Heywood Paige, vice president of marketing, FiG Advertising
They focus on teamwork.
“The women [I’ve worked with] consistently demonstrate passion, enthusiasm and an immense capacity to serve and be served by others. I’ve observed women make bold and wise decisions as leaders while relying on others to be part of their team. The environment is less authoritarian and more cooperative and family-like, but with solid leadership.” – Katharine M. Nohr, principal, Nohr Sports Risk Management
They’re good at multitasking.
“Women make great leaders as we are natural multitaskers. The ability to decisively and quickly respond to simultaneous and different tasks or problems at a time is a critical component to successful leadership.” – Carolann Tutera, president, SottoPelle
They’re motivated by challenges.
“We are creative problem solvers motivated by obstacles. The desire to overcome a challenge fuels us to get things accomplished. Leaders don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” – Jackie Zlatanovski, founder, Flik Flops
They’re strong communicators.
“Communication is said to be among a woman’s strongest skill — and female leaders know how to use it! Whether communicating with employers, co-workers, or partners, an open communication stream allows for clarity in executing roles and responsibilities. Female business leaders are able to communicate regularly, clearly and openly.” – Tina Bacon-DeFrece, president, Big Frog
They dream big.
“Women make great leaders because they have an innate ability to dream big, challenge assumptions and inspire teams — and they know how to translate big ideas into concrete action and results.” – Angela Dejene, executive vice president, Crosswind Media & Public Relations
They handle crisis situations well.
“Many women, especially moms, are trained caretakers and know how to deal with crisis situations at home with compassion and patience. These attributes become very relevant when a woman leader is dealing with crisis situations whether this is related to HR or [clients].” – Huma Gruaz, president and CEO, Alpaytac PR
They can wear many hats.
“Wearing many hats is often a regular occurrence in a women’s life. They often balance careers, households and even aging parents, among other things. Women pivot, adjust and focus on solutions. Resting in the doom and gloom can be time-consuming, so many shift to find positive solutions to life and work problems.” – Gretchen Halpin, chief strategy officer, Hewins Financial Advisors
They check their egos.
“Ego so often gets in the way of good decision-making in the C-suite. Women exhibit ego differently and they are good at decision-making with the ego held in check. This is a key advantage in working with boards of directors, partners and customers.” – Joan Wrabetz, CTO, Quali
They have high emotional intelligence.
“Emotional intelligence — the ability to recognize emotions in yourself and others and relate — is something that has recently gained momentum as an essential leadership behavior. I believe this is something that comes more naturally to women than men, and is something that I’ve personally encountered in my career. To truly create a great place to work and to get the best of out employees, demonstrating emotional intelligence as a leader is critical.” – Lakshmi Raj, co-founder and co-CEO, Replicon
“Women make great leaders because we are flexible, and agile. We can see the direction we thought we should take our company in isn’t working and we regroup and change course for the better without much deliberation.” – Danita Harris, CEO, Rated M
They lead by example.
“Women lead by example, and in so many cases, women have climbed the ladder so they have experienced a variety of roles before they get to the leadership ones. Experience is key.” – Harriet Taub, executive director, Materials for the Arts
They make their jobs look effortless.
“I believe women make phenomenal leaders because they are experts at making the impossible seem possible. And sometimes on a good day they even make it look effortless. Women are pragmatic, resilient and usually able to maneuver tricky situations with grace. Their perspectives are borne out of a mix of trial by fire and sheer fortitude. They look at the world with bravery and are able to piece together the world around them like a complex puzzle.” – Jody Clower, founder and CEO, Nestiny
They defy the odds.
“Women make great leaders because the odds are against us to lead. When you’re the underdog, it takes an extra push to get to the top. That’s why the women who emerge on top are extraordinarily strong and capable. We had to fight to get there!” – Sarah Attman, principal, Sarah Rose Public Relations
We will keep posting new articles about women leaders in the workforce, management, entrepreneurship, and across society as we continue to build our blog!
Please share with us any insight you have as we would love to hear your feedback on this important topic.