Mom Interviews

Donna Novitsky

CEO of Big Tent

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What advice would you give to a mom who is trying to start her own business?

I am advising exactly such a mom right now! The advice I gave her is: She needs to find a partner who shares her vision and who she can work with closely. They need to have a really solid business plan and really look to see if, between the two of them, do they have the skills they need to pull off this business. They need to be able to challenge each other and ask tough questions, make sure it's going to be a good investment.

Remember: If you're raising funds, you're talking to someone who is an investor looking for a return. Unless it's a social enterprise-type investor, chances are you are going to have to show the investor a return, so make sure that end of your business is solid. In the end, people can believe in your concept, but the cold hard fact is you're going to have to make them money, otherwise it's not a good investment.

Is this your dream job?

Yes, it's definitely my dream job. I've always wanted to do my own entrepreneurial venture, and doing something that's so close my my heart is even more exciting. What would make it better is not having a commute. Right now, I commute about 30 to 40 minutes each way.

What's the hardest part for you, personally, about juggling career and parenthood?

Both jobs are 24/7. You're a mom 24/7 and a CEO 24/7. What bothers me is if it gets too far out of whack and I start missing too much of the school activities and the concerts and the soccer games... I don't have to be at every one of them, I take every shortcut I can, but what happens if I miss too much of my kids stuff is that then I get this sort of sadness and feel like I need to reconnect.

Fortunately, I have a great support system at home. My husband and I have been married for more than 20 years. He gets the kids to school in the morning. We do have a nanny for four hours a day -- I'm a master delegator -- but John is the one who is always home to relieve the nanny. He or the nanny gets dinner on the table. He is my huge support system. I used to wonder why there aren't more women CEOs, more women in venture capital... it's because the men who are in those fields have support systems. You need a support system if you're going to take on that kind of a role. I'm really grateful that John is willing to play that role.

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