Christy Odom Photography

The #1 Thing I’ve Learned About Building a Business So Far

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I sat in a conference room in Salt Lake City about a week ago and started telling the story of Mommi to a panel of investors… 2 years and 9 months since starting it… and I almost broke down and cried. Some happy tears mixed with sad – but the tears were brimming just the same. It seemed like everything that I had been through personally, and with a team of some of the best people I know, had culminated to that very moment and the future of everything hung in the balance. There is a lot of good that comes from acting on a dream or even a whim, but that pivotal meeting last week caused me to look back and ask myself if it was worth all it has cost to get to this point. And here’s what I realized…

The Gut Check

A few years ago I worked with a mentor that I admire greatly. She is a successful business woman that has built many companies, and she kicks butt. I figured if I wanted to be a successful entrepreneur I had to figure out her formula and follow it, because as she had told me, “it’s an uphill battle if you want to build a company as a woman, and you can’t make excuses along the way.” One day she asked me what I would do if I had important meetings scheduled the same day that my daughter became really sick and needed to go to the doctor. What would I choose to do? Would I cancel everything and stay by my daughter’s side… or would I leave her in the capable hands of a caregiver, check in with her by phone when I could, and return when business was taken care of? It was during that conversation that I realized I just couldn’t do it that way – it wasn’t in me. I would cancel the meetings and stay with my girl. And I wondered if I could build a successful company without my family becoming a casualty along the way. It was a huge moment for me in deciding whether to move forward, or throw in the towel.

The Reality

 

Now, I’m a long way from calling myself a successful entrepreneur, but I have definitely worked very hard to make this idea of improved nutrition for women a reality. But when I look back on the past 3 years the things I am most proud of are the moments in between. I recall the time I stayed up until 3am to work on a presentation only to go to bed and 5 minutes later my sweet JoJo who had slept so well since 9pm the night before started crying for her mama. Her dad was deployed at the time so I woke up and just held her, and fed her, and rocked her 6-month old little body back to sleep. I wondered if I was sacrificing too much and missing out on her childhood until I realized I was making memories just by being present in that quiet moment in the middle of the night. That moment was ours alone and I stared at her in wonder over the little girl she was becoming and how grateful I was that she was by my side during that first exhausting year of building a business (and becoming a mother for the first time because that was exhausting enough:).

FaceTime Husband of the Year

 

Then there were the desperately-needed FaceTime calls from my husband in the middle of the night even when JoJo would actually sleep, but a business situation was keeping me up all night. Last year I had a critical decision to make and only hours in which to make it. I was 7 months pregnant with my Jamie, and I was absolutely sick with worry about what to do. Even though he was across the world, it seemed like Seth always knew exactly when to call. I just cried and cried to him for about 45 minutes and he just listened and then offered up sound advice. I remember thinking about how weak I was – this so-called leader of a team that couldn’t make a tough decision when it mattered the most, crying to my husband who I was supposed to be strong for during a long deployment. But I just couldn’t carry it all, and he was strong for me. That moment is forever ingrained in my entrepreneurial journey, and I love my husband all the more for it.

Me, as a Bystander to my own life

 

Stuck on my computer several months ago I was watching my children play while I worked on my laptop a few feet away and I experienced another amazing moment. My new baby boy was just staring adoringly at his older sister, cooing and grabbing her face as she tried to mother him. I realized that through my absentee moments of putting out fires or endless designing of new marketing strategies, my kids were still able to build a strong sibling bond that will last a lifetime, and I was just a bystander. A really happy, grateful bystander.

What it all boils down to

 

So in that conference room in Salt Lake City last week, all of that flashed before my eyes – the conversations about what makes a successful female entrepreneur, the missed and captured moments with my husband, daughter and son – and I asked myself again if I thought it was all worth it. And the answer is yes, but not because I’ve built this business. It was because of all the moments of being an imperfect mother, wife and company founder that came in between.

 

Last week I wanted to do a photoshoot to share the story of Mommi, and it was interesting that in planning it with Christy Odom, our amazingly-talented photographer, we decided that it should actually be all about my role as a mother. Because in the end, while building what I want to be the perfect product, and perfect company, the most “perfect” thing I’ve built is my family, something at times I thought I was missing out on. When I watched this video Christy made I realized what has ultimately brought me to this place in my career and more importantly, my life. It’s family.