Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Ronda Jackson, @designsby_decor. Ronda Jackson, Founder and Chief Workplace Stylist of Decor Interior Design, Inc., is a true American success story. Born in a west-side Chicago project tenement as one of fifteen children, Ronda has overcome many hurdles. The savvy entrepreneur and single mother of two has successfully grown her small business into a multi-million-dollar firm that has been named within Fortune Magazine’s Top 100. You can learn more at http://www.designsbydecor.com/.
SmallBizLady: What are some hurdles you’ve faced being a working, single mom?
Ronda Jackson: My biggest hurdle is myself. As mothers we are in a constant giving mode, depleting ourselves day in and day out. I was seeking success at the expense of my health, relationships, and vitality. I have released unrealistic expectations of myself—realizing there is nothing to prove, it’s ok to ask for help, and it’s ok for a dirty dish to stay in the sink overnight.
SmallBizLady: How do you balance work and family life?
Ronda Jackson: Every 24 hours, moms are shifting and rotating priorities. I finally started reverse engineering my day. I reserve an hour a day for me, an hour a day for each of my sons and divide the rest amongst sleep, eat and work.
SmallBizLady: How did running your business change after having kids?
Ronda Jackson: My sons are my why; they are the catalyst of why I do what I do. Décor allows me to be the best mom possible. By taking really good care of both Décor and my boys…I’m living an entrepreneur’s dream.
SmallBizLady: How do you find time for yourself between running a business and raising kids?
Ronda Jackson: At the end of each day, I spend time nourishing and replenishing my mind, body, and spirit. I dedicate time every week to work on myself: reading, learning, growing, creating new experiences to keep my well full.
SmallBizLady: How do you measure success?
Ronda Jackson: I measure success by how many times I get back up, defeat uncertainty, and contend with rejection. I measure success in moments and remind myself that the small wins count too.
SmallBizLady: How important is networking when growing a business?
Ronda Jackson: The most valuable time, for me, is when I share my time and resources with other awesome like-minded people. They say who you spend time with is who you become. I surround myself with individuals who are committed to greatness, leadership and personal responsibility.
SmallBizLady: What are some “best practices” that you’ve learned along the way?
Ronda Jackson: I choose to laugh at myself and at life. Humility is my BFF.
SmallBizLady: Do you feel that having a mentor is necessary when starting a business?
Ronda Jackson: I am life’s apprentice. I study and learn from the people that have already figured out what I want to know. I have received and applied practical, smart, inspiring and empowering wisdom that has saved me years in business and millions in therapy.
SmallBizLady: How do you overcome feelings of working-mom-guilt when you are pulled in so many different directions?
Ronda Jackson: My 7-year-old son told me he needs 11 minutes a day of my time. The boys and I have a daily ritual of discussing the best part and worst part of our day. As long as I’m not on the worst part of their day list, then I’m feeling guilt-free.
SmallBizLady: What is a typical day like as a CEO and mom?
Ronda Jackson: I start my day pretty early. It keeps away the feeling of overwhelm. I try not to wear too many hats at the same time. Once I get the boys to school, my workday starts. My car is my mobile office; most of my day is ran from there.
SmallBizLady: Do you feel that motherhood has made you an even better businesswoman? If so, how?
Ronda Jackson: There are a lot of parallels between motherhood and business. The biggest thing that motherhood has taught me is to seek perspective. When parenting, you get down to your child’s level, create a safe place, and offer sage and appropriate advice. Priceless in the boardroom!!!
SmallBizLady: What advice do you have for moms who are looking to start a business?
Ronda Jackson: Be sure to select a business that compliments your desired lifestyle. Then build your business for the life you want, not for the life you have.
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