Why You NEED To Create Boundaries as a Mompreneur
I have a great guest on the show today. Jessica Korthuis is here to chat about creating boundaries as a mompreneur and building a business that actually works for your family. It’s a struggle, but no worries, because Jessica has some great tips and advice to get you unstuck and feeling aligned with your business and family life. Stick around for this conversation because you will immediately love Jessica.
She is the founder and CEO of SoHuis, an educational platform and digital membership community that provides marketing and branding educational resources to help early stage female founders grow and market their businesses.
So sit back, relax, and get ready to create boundaries that align with your family goals.
Connect with Jessica:
- why boundaries are important to create
- the types of systems and processes to put in place to honor your productivity
- how to align your business with your family goals
- best tips for feeling stuck and unbalanced
Full Transcription at the bottom of this blog post.
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Hey Jessica. Welcome to the Show!
Hi, Allison. Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Happy that you’re here. Cause we’re going to talk about a topic that I know every mom, every momprenuer struggles with and that’s creating boundaries as a momprenuer and of course, building a business that actually works for your family. So before we get into your juicy details and your advice on all of that, tell us who you are and tell us a little bit about your business.
Yeah, sure. Um, and again, thanks for having me. I’m excited to talk about this. You know, being a, being an entrepreneur is already a super difficult, but then when you add sort of this key role, this key identity of mom in front of it, it’s just sometimes feels impossible. So I’m really excited to chat about this topic. So long story, really short I’ve worked in marketing for, well over a decade, I was an accidental entrepreneur. I was working at a global fashion brand in their PR department, like on a one-way ticket to New York city. I had all these plans and I was like, this is what I’m doing. Here I go. And then the company cut my position corporate wide. Like they were like, all of you. No thank you. And so the story goes my now husband, but, um, then when we were just dating, but we were living together, I like went home and we had like seven balls of wine and like a ton of pasta.
And I was like feeling so sorry for myself because all of my life, like dreams and plans just got literally taken away from me that day. And that was how we started our first business. By that weekend, we opened up a boutique branding and marketing agency. I had the marketing PR background, he had technical and um, and so we were like, can’t be that hard. Right? Famous last words. And uh, yeah, by Monday morning we had the agency, we built our first website and looked like total crap and um, printed our business cards off of Vista print. And, um, I’ve never looked back. I’ve been, I’ve been an entrepreneur ever since. And you know, my real sweet spot is really helping women launch their products and services into market. So, you know, there are so many amazing marketers and branders like yourself who have domain expertise in a certain area and marketing has become so diverse over the past 10 years.
It’s really, it’s really almost impossible to kind of be a knower of all things. These days with marketing, you really have to niche into your area. And so my area is really helping with brand positioning and particularly how do we, how do we make sure that as women, we are creating products and services that people actually want to buy and how do we test and validate those ideas before we even build anything or invest anything into our businesses. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past several years and my company now. So house is an educational platform that helps women do that too. So we have a membership community where it’s kind of a DIY. Um, you pay a pretty low cost to get into the membership and you get access to our vault, which is like tons of educational resources and classes and guides and all kinds of good stuff.
And then we have a formal accelerator. And then now in the summer, we’re going to be launching a mastermind as well. So we’re really trying to find the best way to teach these other women how to do it themselves. Um, as you know, being a marketer, usually there’s this like incorrect notion that marketers are like unicorns from another planet. And that’s not the case. Like, yes, some of us do have some more magic than others. However marketing can be taught, you know, and marketing is actually the second reason that businesses fail. The first reason is access to capital and the second is marketing. So it’s a huge problem and it’s a big pain point for female founders. And so that’s kind of what we’re here to address and help.
That’s awesome. And I love your story and I’m so glad you said, right at the beginning that you launched your business, your website, it was crap and
Well, and I think that’s such an important point because a lot of options,
The entrepreneurs, especially mompreneurs, like we just want to succeed. Right? So we feel like we, when we put, you know, our first step out there, that it has to be perfect. It has to be good. But in reality, the first thing that you ever put out there, it will be crap. Like a couple of years ago, I did have an Instagram course, guess what it was crap. And it didn’t sell. Like, that’s just how you start. And I’m so glad you said that because I think when we’re on social and we’re watching what everyone else is doing, it is the look at me, the highlight reel I’m successful, and this is how you do it, but they never say that how they started out their struggles, their failures, and it was, you know, crap in the beginning. And really that’s how entrepreneurship really starts. Right. Okay.
Absolutely. There’s a saying like, um, I took Sara Blakely’s masterclass, um, which is, she’s the founder of Spanx. She lives here in Atlanta, you know, where I live. And, um, she said in her masterclass, entrepreneurship is jumping off a cliff and building the plane on the way down. And that just really resonates with me as a founder. And you’re so right about, you know, just moms, you know, w we want to, we want to build businesses. Of course, we’re speaking, generally. There’s always exceptions to the rule, but the moms that I know, the moms that are in our community and my mom, friends who were trying to build their businesses, you know, they’re not trying to be the next bill Gates or the next tech mogul. They’re just trying to build a company that they really love. And that brings them joy. Oh my God, God forbid, we build something that we’re actually happy with. And that brings, you know, joy into our life. You know, entrepreneurship is hard, it is a road less traveled, and we well better, like enjoy our businesses and what we’re doing. Cause that’s, what’s going to carry us through the hard times.
And I know this is a little off topic, but don’t you feel this is starting to drive me crazy in the online space, as far as like mompreneurs or entrepreneurs is all these coaches are out there saying, I can teach you how to have a six figure business. So now we have to look and go, Oh, I need to have six figures to be successful. And I know there’s a lot of people attaching themselves to that. And that is really driving me crazy because I don’t not, everybody wants to make six figures yet. Sounds nice. But do you need six figures to be successful and be happy as an entrepreneur and a business owner and raise your family? Like, I don’t think so. And I think that that is getting really pushed out on the online world. Do you see a lot of that?
I see that all the time. And then I see the next one, which isn’t she hit six now, how do you get to a million? You know? And like, I would be lying if I said that I don’t want our company to be million dollar company. Of course I would love to build something that could drive so much impact. And, you know, side note for us, we’re a social enterprise. So we are dedicated to giving upwards of 10% of our revenue to organizations that rehabilitate African elephants. It’s part of our brand as part of our story. It’s our thing. So the more money we can generate, the more impact we can have. So that’s a big reason for that as well. Um, and you know, uh, the world has never suffered when women can make more money, right? So, you know, having women create wealth for themselves and their families is wonderful.
However, to your point, you are so right. You, I posted something on Instagram a while ago when it was something to the effect of like, um, you don’t have to justify your hobbies for them to, you know, be successful or to bring you joy. And, you know, in the early stages to get back to kind of like your first, thing’s going to suck your first thing isn’t going to sell as well as you might think it does. Um, you know, we build our businesses, you know, I say we build our businesses, 10 customers at a time, you know, you build it for the first 10, you’ll learn, you get feedback, you figure out what works, you build it for the second 10, and then another 10. And then another time that’s how you build a six figure seven figure business. Um, but those fundamentals, those early stages is, you know, is the most important part. And yeah, you don’t have to build a huge company to have a really healthy, wonderful business that provides joy to your family.
I agree. I definitely agree with that. All right, now I’m going to jump into my questions. That was a little sidebar there. I loved it. So after running two businesses with clients on multiple continents, what type of systems or processes have you put in place to honor your productivity and boundaries?
So many? So the first thing that I did when I first started our agency, disclaimer, we had no mentors. None of us had had a background in running a business. We had no business opening up this business. So for the first couple of years, it was really just trial and error. It was figuring out who’s, you know, who’s our market, who do we love to serve? You know, what makes us different than every other marketing agency down the street and the community we were living in. And so it was really first couple of years, it’s just figuring all that out. And then, you know, once you figure that out, once you really kind of have your product market fit, you’ve got your niche. You’ve kind of got your area. That makes sense for you. For me, I am an efficiency psycho. And I say that for this reason, I, uh, one of our core values is like, we raise our hands on our, when our wellbeing is at risk, right?
Like we’re not here to be robots. That’s not what I mean by efficiency. What I mean by efficiency is why are we taking 12 steps when we can do it in three? That’s what I mean by efficiency. And so as we started to grow the agency, um, and even as I’ve worked with clients, you know, like you said, all over the world, there’s usually common denominators between that experience, right? You’re usually spinning up the same project management software, usually, you know, sending the same, welcome email to your onboarding clients, right? Like there’s just a series of things that you’re kind of doing repetitive, you know, repetition, repetition, I can’t even talk
And so once I started sort of taking inventory of like, well, I feel like I do this a lot. Then I started to figure out how can we use tools and systems to optimize this, automate this really make this something that I don’t have to spend one hour doing and I could spend 10 minutes doing. Um, and so a super tactical thing that I even do to this day that I used to do with clients is I template out everything. So I sure that if we are going to build a new process, whether it’s onboarding a client, whether it’s bringing on an intern, a new team member, I mean, whatever it is, we make sure that those steps can literally be copy paste for the most part. So that’s just a really big thing that, you know, has saved me so much time and it’s made the business much more efficient from an operations perspective. You know, at the end of the day, most entrepreneurs do not quantify their time that they spend on stuff like that on admin operational type things. And you would be surprised how much time we actually spend on that. So if we can use technology to help us replicate that on our behalf, then we can do more of the things that we love, which is create strategize, et cetera.
Now, what kind of, when you mentioned templates, what kind of programs are you, what jumps to your brain?
Yes, so we use HubSpot CRM. It’s a free CRM and I love it. Um, I think you can upgrade and get all kinds of other, you know, things attached to it. But, um, I use the free version and I’ve used it for years and years and years. So for example, we, I don’t use, I don’t do consulting anymore, but when I was consulting, if I would onboard a client, I had templates already. Pre-made in our HubSpot CRM. And I would just spin up that template. Hey, so-and-so welcome. We’re so excited to have you here or, Hey, here’s your proposal. Next steps are blah, blah, blah. You know, these are emails that I just wrote. I mean, I would literally just copy and paste them from my sent folder to a compost, you know, composing email. And I was like, this is dumb. I need to make a template that I can just, you know, activate when I need it.
And HubSpot CRM allows you to do that. So that’s a really specific tool, another tool that we use now. And so house is CAMBA, which I know everyone is using Canva, but you know, creating content for social, you being social media whiz, you know this, I mean, it takes so much time. So we have used our, our brand guidelines, our brand tone of voice, our style guide to dictate our color palettes. And we’ve just got all kinds of social templates that we’ve just built over time. You know, we didn’t build that one day. We built this over a series of times, so like quotes or like if we’re highlighting a member or if we’re doing tips, we just have kind of like a master collection of templates. And we just like pull those when we want them and build our calendar accordingly. And we basically are never creating anything from scratch anymore, which saves a ton of time.
That does save a ton of time. And I, and I, I like that you pointed out it takes some time to build these templates. And I would say a good tip for our listeners is I actually create one day a week. I time block admin. So if I need to create a template, brain dump what I do on a weekly and kind of take a look at well, what’s a process that I do over and over and over. Is there some way that I can actually make it in less time? Is there a template? Is there another process is there’s know something else that I can do with it. So I like that you shared HubSpot. I’ve actually never heard of that. So I’m going to make sure I put that in the show notes so people can go check that out. Now, how have you built your businesses to align with your family goals? Because I know that’s a big struggle with mompreneurs, especially if they got littles at home or even, you know, kids in school and then they come home from school like that balance or alignment of like working as an entrepreneur and being a mom.
Yeah, such a good question. So I’ll answer that in two ways. So the first business was before we had kids and, um, you know, how we design that business is very different than how we designed the second one. And I’ll tell you my first business, I had someone tell me if you don’t work on your business, 24 seven, you’re not a real entrepreneur. And I said, well, if that’s what it takes to be a real entrepreneur, then, then I’m going to redefine what that means for me. I do not want to work on my business 24 seven and my husband and I, his name is Thomas and I were working in our, we had a home office at the time and our office had French doors. And what we started to notice very early on is we would, you know, sit on our couches with our computers.
You know, I’d whip out my email on a Sunday afternoon. And before, you know, it, you were just always plugged in. And Thomas and I saw very early that our personal relationships started to really be all about business and that was not okay with us. And so we started for us, our family unit at the time was just two of us. We started to decide, we started to say, okay, no computers on the couch whatsoever. Like we really put these hard, hard boundaries. And we gave ourselves home office hours, which now in the time of COVID right, people are trying to figure that out. But before that, right, like that was like, Oh my God, like, what do you mean? You give yourself office hours when you work from home. You know, and literally it was like nine to five for the most part on Fridays, we made an agreement that we would shut down our computers at 3:00 PM and we will go have happy hour.
And we would just like celebrate all the freaking hard work week. We did that week. And then the other thing that we would do is we would physically shut the doors to our home office. And I know that not everyone has that opportunity. We did. We cause we had French doors and just the physical separation of that allowed us to sort of enter into we’re a married couple now living our lives and doing personal things versus we’re business owners and all of that made a huge difference, um, in the early days of the business. And even as we grew the business, um, I also put very hard boundaries with clients and of course I was really nice about it. But you know, when you’re a consultant, clients are calling you, texting you, emailing you. And um, some of the younger entrepreneurs that I might mentor, you know, now I say, you know, if you respond to a client email on a Sunday or you answer a client call at 9:30 PM on a Tuesday, you, that client will now always expect that from you.
And so I instituted, you know, my clients actually did not hardly email me ever because it wasn’t part of our process. We used a project management software. We would always communicate to the clients through a project management software. And so that was just, you know, those were things I had to learn over time. You know? Like, I didn’t like, like you said, like I didn’t start that out the gate. Like it was me getting phone calls from clients at 10:00 PM and I’m like, Whoa, this is not okay with me. And so we started to build those, you know, those processes in, but yeah, I mean just really understanding. I think that we should build businesses that we love and that we’re dedicated to and you know, w we want to give it our all, but at the end of the day, if we’re slaving away at our companies and we’re not enjoying life, like what are we doing? You know? And then when you add a child into the mix, it, you know, wow. Like those boundaries for me, it just became a lot more clear once we had a baby.
And I think too, it’s good to note that when we speak of boundaries, start with one, I would say start with one. Like the one that I really started with that is really non-negotiable is I will not do any client calls at night because for me, I am not productive at night and my kids are in school now. So when my kids are home, I don’t want to be on my computer. And it, once dinnertime hits, I’m sorry, I am not. I treat it like if I would not go back to work, if I had an office, I would not eat dinner, go, bye guys. Like, no. So I, for me, once dinner hits, I am not touching my phone. I’m not even on social media. I am not responding to DMS. And I go even one step further than that, I plan my work.
So each day is a specific business task. So for example, Wednesdays is my podcasting day. So if there’s day or Friday, someone applies to be on my show, guess what? You’re not going to hear back from me until next Wednesday. Like I am, that is a hard boundary. I’m not opening that email and I’m not looking at podcast stuff because it’s not my podcasting day. So that’s how I’ve created. Like hard boundaries is I do certain business tasks on certain days. And once that day passes, I get more of my email, guess what it’s waiting until next week. And that’s really hard to train yourself to do. And I think that’s just being a woman. We are such givers and nurturers, and we want to be liked and loved. So not responding to an email or a DM right away is so hard, but you just have to train yourself to do it. So take one boundary at a time, you know, just create one, get in the practice of doing it. And then you can start adding a few more because I don’t want to overwhelm our listeners and think you have to put out all these boundaries. Like, no, no, no, no, no. Just start with one.
No, you’re so right. Start with one. And I mean, you really, you nailed it. Start with one that’s most important to you, right? At the time of the agency, we didn’t have kids. What was most important to us was our relationship. And we started to feel like our, like our agency was encroaching in that space and that was guarded territory that we did not want to be encroached. So that year, so right. Start with one and start with the most important one, you know? And then, um, we actually ended up folding the agency once my daughter was born because actually it was, yeah, it was before, but it was because we just had a hard look at the last five years, but agency for almost five years at that time. And we were like, you know, this has been a fun ride. We love it. But we just don’t see agency life, you know, hashtag agency life to be our thing when we are having a child. And so we made the decision to fold the agency. I ended up going to work for a global nonprofit, you know, working overseas. And that was great. My husband, you know, got a great job and all worked out fine. Also, there was the reality of like, Oh,
Insurance now, which you don’t usually get it when you’re a small business.
Right. So those decisions were at play, but then, you know, I will never, I will never forget this. This is, um, a very personal story about I’m happy to share. So I was nursing my daughter when she was really small. I mean, I’m like four weeks, like brand new baby. And I’m sitting in that, I’m sitting in her room, nursing her, it’s like 8:00 PM. It’s quiet, you know, everything’s going fine. And I’m on my phone. I’m looking at my email and I’ll never forget. I was like, what the hell am I doing? Why am I doing this? Like, what is wrong
With me? You know? And
That was the first kind of like, what’s the first boundary that you’ll set. That was when I had a baby. And it was my first child. I had no idea that was the first boundary that I was like, wow, when I’m nursing or doing bed time, like no phones, no tech, nothing. And it’s just kind of grown from there. Like now my daughter is five. We don’t do phones at the dinner table. It’s just not our thing. Um, and you know, I also have a hard, like, do not work rule on the weekends. Like I just totally unplug. And I’m like full time, mom, we’re having fun. We’re doing, you know, we’re meeting with friends as much as we can right now. And, um, it really has been a game changer in my relationship with my company. And it’s made me more productive during the week.
And that’s the thing that’s the big fallacy is if I have more time, I’ll be more, I’ll be more productive. I’ll get more done. The opposite is actually true. You end up getting less done because you’re like, Oh, I have Sunday. Oh, worry about it then. Right. You actually do less during the week because of that. So if you set these sort of parameters for yourself, you know, you give yourself sprints to get certain amount of activities done and right. Rest is something that we are rewarding ourselves with these days. And I am just so against that. I’m just like, why are we rewarding ourselves with rest? Rest is part of growth. You know, we can’t become business owners and we can’t be good moms if our energy is all over the place and we’re stressed the hell out and we’re just fried, you know, we can’t show up what we want to for ourselves and for the ones that we love.
I definitely agree with that 100%. Now, last question. What is your best advice or tip for listeners who are just feeling like stuck or unbalanced?
So their business or working mom life,
I would say working on life, let’s go with that one.
I think if you’re stuck, I think this is an opportunity for you as a mom, as a woman, to just really deeply reflect on what’s important to you. I stopped consulting because I no longer wanted to trade time for money. I wanted to do a one to many relationship. I wanted to get into the digital space and really build an educational platform that would allow me to reach more and do less. That’s important to me that might not be important to someone else. And that’s okay. So it’s really just about being honest with yourself about what you really want out of your life. And, you know, w when you, when your kids are grown, like, what do you want them to say? You know, how do you want them to remember your lives together? That’s what I do. And that checks me every time. And then once I do that, all the rest of the chips kind of fall into place,
That is such a great answer. And this has been such an inspirational and meaningful conversation, Jessica. So before we end today, where can our listeners find you on social?
Yeah, so, um, my personal Instagram is my first name, Jessica underscore courthouse. Um, it’s usually just moms and means, and just my little corner of the internet is how I refer to it, um, from our company. It’s so house Inc for branding and marketing tips for, for women in mompreneurs and LinkedIn is also a really good place to get in touch with me. And anyone is welcome to email me as well.
Awesome. I will make sure that all your information is in the show notes. And thanks again for being on the show today. Yeah. Thanks for having me.
2021 Update: You can now find Jessica online at https://www.instagram.com/herbrandandco/ or https://herbrandandco.com/blog/