Entrepreneur: the owner or manager of a business enterprise who, by risk and initiative, attempts to make profit.
Parentpreneur: See above, and also juggles the day-to-day demands of parenting, provides income for one’s family and attempts to live out one’s dreams.
Parentpreneurs: How Do They Do It?
by: Jen Wainwright
The call to entrepreneurism seems to be different for all, and many never even hear it.
Others do hear the call, and consider it often, but never take the leap for one reason or another. Some seemingly fall into entrepreneurism, taking advantage of an opportunity that landed in their laps in one way or another.
But some…some plan on going into business for themselves all along, work for it, take smart, strategic steps to ensure it, and when the timing is right – they answer the call.
“I wanted it while I was working. I wanted it before I quit my job. I knew I would eventually be self-employed. You’ve got to want it.”
An Accurate Account
Meet Parentpreneur Nicole Bowman, mother to three – Jacob, 15, Haley, 10, and Nate, 3 – and owner of Accurate Accounting Solutions, Inc. With an associate’s and bachelor’s degree in accounting, Bowman conducts bookkeeping, payroll services, tax preparation and more from her home-based office in Burt (close to Birch Run). Bowman services clients ranging from daycares to landscaping companies, large-scale corporations to individuals, local organizations to Texas-based businesses and beyond.
Married now, and operating a full-time business from home now – this wasn’t always Bowman’s story. A single parent at a young age, Bowman says she decided she needed to secure a career; she chose accounting. She attended school full-time at Davenport University, both on-line and in-person, worked full-time, and raised her son.
Fast forward through marriage and another child, more schooling and more working – including 15-plus-hour days during tax season of January through April while working for a Certified Professional Accountants firm.
“I would constantly be thinking to myself, ‘I could be doing this for myself, and taking care of my kids’,” Bowman says.
In fact, Bowman did, indeed, launch Accurate Accounting Solutions in 2000 while still earning her bachelor’s degree and working full time. But just as business began revving up, looking like the opportunity to venture into self-employment was finally ripe, Bowman says she discovered “a welcomed surprise, but definitely a surprise!” She was expecting her third child.
The strain of balancing the demands of three children and two jobs (her personal business and outside-the-home job) became too much.
“I had to ask myself, ‘Do I want to work for this company, or for myself ?’ I finally took the leap, and it’s been working out ever since,” Bowman says.
Just the Facts: How Does She Do It?
Bowman says she works full time at Accurate Accounting Solutions, Inc., according to a daily priority list rather than a set schedule, and she works erratic hours. For example, she often starts her day at 3 a.m., especially during tax season, to allow work time before she wakes her children for school. Along with her husband, they share the load of caring for her 3-year-old while her older children are at school during the week, and she works varying hours during weekends.
“If that’s what I have to do to work and balance raising my kids and family life, then that’s what I have to do,” Bowman says. “I love my job. My husband loves my job, and that I can be there for the kids. It works.”
- Bowman operates Accurate Accounting Solutions, Inc., through a Facebook page, website and blog, and she also maintains a Google + account and Twitter feed. She says she allots approximately two hours weekly to build posts and blogs, and utilizes a free service – HootSuite – to manage posts.
- Bowman does not currently advertise outside of utilizing social media and word of mouth. When first building her client-base, she sent out postcards she made at Vistaprint. Targeting her audience, she searched a free list available to the public monthly of businesses in the area who recently applied for business licenses. “I would make a determination based on the type of business they were opening whether they might need payroll, tax services…and send them a postcard.” She also sent out postcards to homes in a 10-mile radius of her home offering 15 percent discounts on personal tax returns.
- Although she’s been in business for over 10 years, Bowman says she still attends workshops, both to apply the information to her business and to pass it on to her clients.
- Bowman teaches a 4-credit course each semester at Baker College in Flint, Computerized Accounting Systems. She says she enjoys the work, and it also creates word of mouth about her business.
Bowman says future plans for Accurate Accounting Solution, Inc., include maintaining her current level of success until her youngest child is in school full-time. “I’m at a point where I can take on clients that work within my schedule, or not work with a client if they don’t,” Bowman says. “I make time for my family, too.”
For Aspiring Parentpreneurs
Bowman says she feels there is a misconception about working from home and running your own business – one where people think it will be easy.
“It requires concrete discipline,” Bowman says. “Sometimes it feels like there are no boundaries, and you have to set them.”
She acknowledges that the life of a “parentpreneur” may not be for everyone – but it’s the life for her.
“I’ve always wanted to run my own business, and it’s rewarding,” Bowman says. “It’s nice that I can drop my kids off to school and pick them up. I don’t have to call in or get someone to cover my shift. I did that for many years. You only have one chance to raise your kids and be part of their lives.”
Jen is a freelance writer, parent to three, and she’s been a stepparent for over 15 years. She is well-equipped to discuss and write about the great, and the not-so-great, details of all-things-parenting. Along with spending quality time with her family, Jen enjoys music, chocolate, camping and relaxing. And laughing!