When I was little, she was the one who bought the cups for my lemonade stand. When my Girl Scout Troop sold cookies, she stood behind me as I canvassed the neighborhood. Now I’m 27 and no longer living at home, but my mother still helps me every day on my business. Moms get a lot of credit for raising children. In celebration of Mother’s Day, I’d like to also give mothers credit for raising startups.
My mother is exceptional, but she is not alone. Over the past decade, the number of mother-daughter owned businesses has risen by more than 40 percent. We’ve seen this trend displayed in the form of mother-daughter celebrity powerhouses, from Beyonce and her mother’s clothing line to famous athletes like track and field olympian Lashinda Demus who credits her athletic prowess to her mother-coach. Mother-daughter businesses have become so popular that they even have their own professional association.
It’s no accident that mother daughter businesses are popping up across the country. From a historic perspective, the timing makes perfect sense. In the 1970s, women began entering the workforce in droves, generally sticking toward jobs in corporate America or in the professional service industry. My mother, a practicing dentist, admits that as a young woman she never would have thought to start her own business.
Millennials, on the other hand, seem to want nothing more than to work for themselves. As children, we watched our mothers work long hours while still taking on their traditional gender roles as the primary caregivers. After being told all our lives that we can do anything we set our minds to, many millennial women have decided to opt out of the traditional career ladder in favor of a more flexible career – running their own businesses.
At the same time that millennial women are creating their dream jobs, their mothers are leaving their jobs in corporate America. As a recent survey by the Guardian Life Index showed, many women view corporations as fundamentally flawed and cite “office politics” as a driving factor for them to quit their jobs and start a business.
These two factors have culminated in an unprecedented number of women starting businesses and creating a perfect storm for mother-daughter combos. According to an American Express analysis of Census Bureau figures, the number of women starting businesses has risen by 68% over the past 17 years with an estimated 1,288 women-owned businesses started each and every day.
Not only is the timing right for mothers and daughters to start businesses, the combination is also an incredibly powerful one. My mother and I have practiced “working” together my whole life, and we’ve witnessed each others’ leadership and partnership styles in every kind of situation – I’d be hard-pressed to find a business partner I understood as much. At this point, clashes are inevitably compromised and work-life balance is practically in the contract! For a business partner mother, raising a startup is sort of like raising a kid – she only wants to help it grow, succeed, and be happy. And for me, a business partner should be someone I admire and trust fully. Who could I trust to have my best interest at heart more than my mom?