What’s tough – being a working mum or starting off on your own? Marianna Kottnauer, mum of two children and founder of HappyLabel.cz, answers Qs on the balancing act. Marianna is from Slovakia, and her husband is from Canada. They have two boys – Matt,11 years and Daniel, 9. Marianna creates personalized, kid-friendly self-adhesive labels that are easy to use. Here, she tells us about starting a business while being a mum.
Q Why did you start Happy label?
I started Happy Label because I’m a creative person with a mind that is constantly looking to create, innovate and make something. It was impossible for me to go back to a full-time job because my boys were still quite young – only 3 and 5 years old, when I started this business. I needed something flexible.
Q Can you compare ‘starting your own company’ to ‘working in a company’?
The main advantage of having my own company is the independence. Along with that comes the learning opportunity and satisfaction of knowing that I’m using my creativity and passion to lead the way. I’m a happy mom, and I’m most happy when my boys come to visit me at work. My elder son loves to stop by and talk about the business with me.
In terms of disadvantages, having your own business is sometimes stressful. There’s always the pressure to offer good customer service and also to be a reliable and loving mother. It’s not always easy to juggle between work and family, but I have so much support from my husband, and that’s always the shining light on my horizon.
Q How easy or hard is it financially when you start off on your own -balancing home expenses, school fees, kid’s courses, travel etc.
I am lucky that my husband was able to support us and shoulder the burden while I was establishing my business. At first, it was certainly difficult because the business wasn’t self-sustaining. As with any business, it takes time before you begin to turn a profit. Without my husband, I’m not sure that it would have been feasible, especially with all of the general expenses that come with having a family.
Q What sacrifices have you and your family made because you’re an entrepreneur?
Part of becoming a parent is learning to make sacrifices and working moms are no different. When my kids were young, I wasn’t happy working long hours in the office knowing that they are waiting for me back home. It was frustrating and I couldn’t help but cry.
It’s certainly difficult, but as a business owner, you have to give it all it takes. That’s when a loving partner helps your support system feels strong. My busiest time of the year is summer, and it‘s hard to spend quality time with my boys. But, my husband takes the boys to Canada for a few weeks to stay with their grandparents. This is a sacrifice, but it’s nice to have him by my side to ensure that the boys have a wonderful, memorable summer each year.
Read more about the challenges of being a working mom in the concluding part of the interview.