7 Secrets of Becoming a Mamapreneur: Star Restaurateur Liza Utter Tells All

Work-Life Balance on 03.26.13
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Have you ever considered going into business for yourself? The benefits are huge, especially for moms, since you can choose your own hours and working location. It's clear to me that working in a corporate office is worse than serving a prison sentence.

I was lucky enough to pick the brain of award winning celebrity restaurateur and mother of two Liza Utter, a.k.a. Liza America’s Host (pictured right.) Since I myself have the entrepreneurial spirit, I interviewed Liza to help demystify the process of establishing your own business for other moms who want to consider the mamapreneur lifestyle.

Here is what you need to know about how to get started, and how to keep your life humming along smoothly once you’re running your own business and taking care of your family.

1. Do what you love.

Photo: Rarye / Creative Commons

How does one decide what kind of business to start? It’s probably the biggest barrier to entrepreneurship, but the answer is also shockingly simple: do what you love. This advice might sound basic, but I believe it to be of the utmost importance.

Liza says, “There’s the saying, ‘Do what you love and the money will follow.’ While we do have to pay our bills and earn a living, I’ve not based my career moves on the size of a paycheck. I truly believe that if you’re in touch with your purpose, your calling, what's special and unique about you that only you can offer the world, then the money will come. 

“Another favorite saying I used to tell myself when I took small jobs, like delivering pizzas in college, is, ‘There are no small jobs, only small people.’ This is my attitude to this day. Keep your eye on your goal, don't give up, and say ‘yes’ to the opportunities that present themselves to you. The money will find its way to you, I promise!”

2. Get clear on your motivation for going into business for yourself.

Photo: Amy Loves Yah / Creative Commons

Liza advises aspiring entrepreneurs to get the bottom of their reasons why they want to start a business. Ask yourself, "Is it because I have a great idea? Do I have a way I can help people? Is this something I’m passionate about? Or is it because I need the money, or because I’m stuck in a rut?”

Liza says, “These are important questions to ask because starting a business takes great effort, commitment and sheer will for it to be successful. If you aren't doing it for reasons that will keep you going long-term, and if your heart isn't fully in it, then you won't be happy or successful. Businesses fail more than they succeed for all kinds of reasons, but starting one for the wrong reasons is a guaranteed disappointment. With that said, if you’re absolutely sure it's what you want, go for it with gusto and don't let anybody tell you that you can't. Make it happen and keep following your heart.”

3. Have a vision and drive.

Photo: Amed Amir / Creative Commons

Once you’re sure that you’re basing your business on something you love and you’re clear that your motivations are going to sustain you for the long haul, it’s time to create a vision and work towards making it a reality.

Liza guides fledgling entrepreneurs to strive to be the kind of person who likes to make decisions and get things done quickly and efficiently. She says, “When I have a clear vision, it then becomes a goal and I am full speed ahead. I have laser-beam focus on my target until I see it realized. This is one of my greatest strengths and passions: taking an idea and building a successful company around it. It would absolutely be safe to say that I'm a natural entrepreneur.”

If these same qualities don’t come naturally to you, they can certainly be practiced and learned, especially when you feel compelled to move towards an inspiring vision of what your life will be like running your own business.

4. Make quiet time for yourself.

Photo: jhoc / Creative Commons

Liza says it’s important to listen to your inner wisdom. “I am a big believer in listening to those inner inklings, voices and whispers, but sometimes they’re very quiet, especially when you’re a busy wife and mother. It’s important to make quiet time for yourself, and this is something I’m very deliberate about.  A mind can get very full with all the external noises of life and it's easy to start what I call ‘letting life live you, instead of living your life.’ This happens when we come last on our to-do lists, which may serve everyone else, but doesn't do much for nurturing ourselves. 

“When I make quiet time for myself, this is when inspirations and ideas come. But it only happens by unplugging regularly and taking care of myself. Then it's all up to me to make those inspirations become reality.

“It’s true that self-doubt, fear and criticism rears its ugly head at some point, but that can be a good thing. It allows me to thoroughly scrub my ideas and make sure it's what I really want to be doing. I check in with myself and take a look at my intentions, where my heart is and most of all, if I'm in service to the betterment of humanity in some way. If I have peace in my heart and soul about where I'm going and what I'm doing, I can then let the fears and self-doubt go.”

5. Work smart, but not too hard.

Photo: Evi Christodoulou / Creative Commons

Liza says that balance is a bit of a myth. We all need to somehow meet our obligations while still making the time for self-care, and some days, we’re going to fall behind on work. The secret is to be okay with that.

Liza says, “I have come to realize that I need to forget the word 'balance'. When I measure myself that way, I set myself up for failure. In my life, it's about giving where I am most needed. Some days I drop everything and I get down on my knees and do homework or play with my kids like I haven't a care in the world. Other days I lock myself in a room (like now) and power through my work, ignoring phone calls.

“There are also many days that I schedule in my 'me' time with hiking, yoga, or reading. There are even occasions when I play hooky and go to a 4:00 movie. I’ll get a bag of popcorn and let go of all my responsibilities for a while. When I do this, I know there will be messages, emails, and work missed, but it's worth it.

"I'm also a big advocate of a good night’s sleep. When I get my 8 to 10 hours, I can conquer the day with gusto. That's what I call working smart. When I'm sleep deprived, I go easy on myself. I shorten my to-do list and take the pressure off. Trying to work and push through when I just don't have the gas – that's when I make mistakes or I just do lousy work, and that makes me feel worse.

“I'm not Super Woman, nor do I want to be. I’m human, I have needs, and I'm doing the best I can. I want to be a good friend to myself by being forgiving and compassionate when things fall through the cracks. It happens to all of us!

“Oh, but one thing that I do that has helped my family and me tremendously is the family menu I create every Sunday night for the week’s meals. Not only does it allow me to keep our family meals fresh and inspired and my grocery shopping focused and quick, but it also keeps me on budget, saves me money and keeps me from impulse buying at the last minute. The kids love it too, and meals are struggle free, especially on Fridays when it's 'kids’ choice!"

6. Caring for your body is a wise investment.

Photo: Mike Baird / Creative Commons

This has been one of the most important lessons I’ve learned. When you’re ready to make significant progress on a venture, it’s essential that your health habits are in place to support your performance.

Liza says, “When I feel strong and fit, I feel I can do anything; that's a good feeling to have when you have a lot to do. My motivation for taking care of my body is to keep myself in peak performance shape for living a quality life. The way I look at it is this: I am an athlete for life. Life is my sport. If I want to be a winner, I need to train, work hard and recover.

“Life is a long distance run, so I pace myself and make sure I listen to my body. I stay hydrated, I do yoga and Pilates, and I stay strong. It's a part of valuing myself and recognizing that the better I feel, the more I can give. I schedule it into my week like a doctor's appointment or business meeting. I make it happen somehow, someway, because it's important to me to take care of myself. 

“The companion to this perspective is to also look at life down the road. We’re living longer now. How do you see yourself when you’re in your 70s, 80s, 90s? Are you in a wheel chair, or are you doing cartwheels with your grandchildren? I want to do cartwheels now, and when I'm a grandma! I'm planning for old age now by doing everything I can to have a quality life when I'm in my golden years.”

7. Surround yourself with good friends.

Photo: Jon Collier / Creative Commons

Liza made another excellent point that I’ve found to be true. For me, the key was to find a new tribe to support the exciting changes that entrepreneurship brings. I joined a weekly Meetup group specifically for entrepreneurs that has been inspiring, informative, and a great source of new friendships.

In Liza’s words: “We all know that negative friends or relationships can be toxic, cause stress and make us physically sick and drained.  But guess what? Positive friends and relationships have super powers. I am very deliberate about keeping people who are loving, supportive, kind and positive around me. This ties in very well with my company, Life's a Party. If you look at entertaining and small gatherings as a way to plug into the joy and positive connections in your life, then you are giving yourself a shot in the arm of good energy and fun – the inoculation to depression and loneliness. These feelings do wonders for one’s mental state and help to solidify deep bonds, provide emotional support, as well as release all kinds of feel good hormones that stimulate stress reduction and brain cell rejuvenation. 

“Good friends and a delicious meal have a way of helping you keep things in perspective, to find the humor in situations, and to lend a compassionate ear. My mission as Liza America's Host is to encourage men and women to start opening up their hearts and homes more to the love and friendships that exist around us.”

Photo courtesy Liza Utter

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