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What entrepreneurship and parenthood have in common
“Getting on a rollercoaster and building the plane mid-flight"

authenticity entrepreneurship mindset personal stories storytelling-truthtelling Jun 08, 2023
Karolien Vanhelden - Personal Branding - Entrepreneurship & Parenthood

Let’s talk about the similarities between parenthood and entrepreneurship, between parenting and managing.

I have a lovely 6-year-old daughter, Lilly. I gave life to her, nurture her and do anything in my power to let her florish. But I also have a professional baby, my own business in personal branding based on the science of fascination. I’ve put my idea out there in the world, I nurture it from day one and I have big hopes and dreams for its future. Both as a parent and as an entrepreneur I am searching for the ‘right’ way to respectively raise and grow my babies…

Having a child and starting a business are life-changing decisions and they have so many things in common…

  • The birth of something bigger than you

Starting my own business was a secret dream I carried in my heart for years. And once my big business idea hit me, I felt that something started to grow inside of me that kept on growing every day. It was constantly on my mind and I understood I needed to make wise decisions by asking the right questions (How can I create value? How am I different? How can I combine this with my family life?). Do you see the link with having a real baby growing inside of you, pushing you constantly to act in a more responsible way? In both cases I gave birth to something much bigger than myself…

It isn’t about your own success anymore. You have the feeling that your success depends on that of the other. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your child florish and your clients doing well. 

  • The importance of a network to combat loneliness

Being an entrepreneur can be lonely. So you need to surround yourself with the right people: people who give you extra energy, who get you, who celebrate your successes with you but are at the same time there when you need a shoulder to cry one. You can only be successful, not by doing everything yourself, but through connection and mutual dependency. Go to networking events, get help from a business coach, get support from fellow entrepreneurs,…

Being a mom on the other hand can be very lonely as well. I am proud that we have raised our little girl almost entirely ourselves. But it can be very hard from time to time and then some help would be very welcome. So also as a parent you need a support network.

Side thought: the grass always seems to be greener on the other side, as a parent and as an entrepreneur. I was always comparing myself to supermoms. They were ‘better’ than me and at first sight they handled everything so smoothly. Also other entrepreneurs seem to become successful with such an ease. But often the opposite is true, of course. Either case, we need to protect ourselves to fall into this trap…

  • Getting on a rollercoaster and building the plane mid-flight

When your child is born and your company has been put into the market, you start learning by doing, building whilst the plane is still flying. You will need to embrace continuous learning: when you play, sometimes you win sometimes you… LEARN. ‘Losses’ are there to wake you up and to invite you to move in another direction.

Let me assure you that my start to parenthood wasn’t at all what I expected it to be. We immediately faced several challenges. But we took it as a team, we never gave up and adapted our plans and methods constantly. And look how Lilly thrives… Parents pivot, just like entrepreneurs. You will experience what works in your business and what doesn’t and you change your approach and plans accordingly.

Remember my comparison of 2023 with the scary rollercoaster? Well, that comparison applies both to parenting and managing: the excitement you feel when lining up to go on a rollercoaster, all the feels when actually tossing and turning during the ride (thinking at that moment 'I will not do this ever again') and the eagerness and impatience when you get out to get on another ride again. We often complain about our children or our business, but in the end you cannot wait to get them out of bed in the morning to cuddle them or to work enthusiastically on the new business ideas you have in mind.

  • The search for the right hat(s)

You have a lot of labels that make you the entrepreneur or the parent you are. In my business I am a marketer, an accountant, an IT specialist, a copywriter, a Fascinate® advisor,… I have a variety of headwear. At home I am a teacher, a chauffeur, a cook,… You have so many roles to play, even inside a specific role you have. Do all these hats suit you? Do you want to master all these abilities? Or can you maybe outsource some of your activities that don’t look that good on you? A difficult balancing act, even more as a new parent or a start-up…

I repeat, having a child and starting a business are life-altering decisions. There is life before and after becoming a parent or entrepreneur. But rest assured, once you have crossed either line, there is no way back and… you’ll never look back.


Can't get enough from what parenthood taught me? Check out this blog post in which I share invaluable lessons my daughter taught me, lessons that can be applied to our lives and business.

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