Backpacks to Briefcases: Business Advice from CEO Moms

As founder of a startup and as a mom, I've learned that running a business and a family are not without challenges. Knowing there's room for improvement with both, I turned to some mom-CEOs – "mompreneurs" – who have gone before me and asked them: How is managing a corporation different from managing a family?

Here's what they had to say:

Backpacks to Briefcases: Business Advice from CEO Moms Penelope Trunk, founder of Brazen Careerist and blogger at Penelope Trunk

A family loves you. A company doesn't. A family is boring on a day-to-day basis. A company is exciting on a day-to-day basis. The external world rewards you for managing a company. Managing a family generates internal rewards.

Kim Orlando, founder of and the TravelingMom Blogger Network

Two huge differences in running a company and running a family immediately come to mind.  The people you manage in a company generally do what you tell them to and the people you manage in a family generally do not. Also you can replace insubordinate employees but not family members!

Jeannie Borin, M.Ed, president & founder of College Connections

Certainly, there is unconditional love in most families where errors and inappropriate actions are forgiven. Try acting out in a business setting and see what happens. My family can run me at times where I am more reactive versus my company that I run. Seems like there is less emotional control in a family and the true self is often revealed. Business is business and “keeping it together” is crucial. I can bring “new blood” into our company – not so easy to do in a family. Also, it’s simpler to control who leaves and who stays in a company. After all, you can’t fire family members. Within our family, I support more decisions than I make.  Whereas, I have more control in decision making for College Connections. In either scenario, there is an emotional investment and I relish in the accomplishments of my family, students and parents.

Mary Guy Miller, Ph.D., president, IDD, Inc.

Anyone who has the privilege and responsibility to lead (whether it be a family or a corporation) understands how to juggle many tasks and prioritize the critical path. No one should pretend to be able to 'do it all.'  Families and businesses that run the best share responsibility and understand the value of great communication. Many women excel in their ability to build cooperation and establish an environment of effective communication and so it is not surprising that we have seen a great increase in successful women CEOs.

Nancy Phillips, REALTOR and founder of Legacy Builders, named 2010 Builder of the Year for the New River Valley Homebuilders Association

Both are fun!

Z. Kelly Queijo is founder of Smart College Visit, Inc., a Blacksburg, Virginia-based higher-ed marketing company focused on mobile app and mobile web development with a special interest in creating travel and location-based tools and services., a college search and college visit planning portal, has been listed in the Top 100 education advice blogs and as one of the top 5 college visit sites. You are invited to follow her on Twitter @collegevisit.

Smart College Visit, Inc. is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated.

When Is Time to Turn Off a Start-Up?
Co-founders of She Chooses to Shake Hands for First Time


  1. donna dilley says:

    Kelly, this is a great post!

    Thanks for sharing the wisdom of these CEOs to help us along our way.

  2. I just love Kim’s quote: “The people you manage in a company generally do what you tell them to and the people you manage in a family generally do not. ” Boy, is that ever true! Guess the family members know they can’t be fired, too!

Speak Your Mind