When I grew up, both of my parents owned their own businesses.
They were divorced and lived in different states, so their businesses were unrelated. However, their stories – and the resulting lessons – were mostly similar.
There was the classic five-year rule: most businesses that fail do so in the first five years, so there were big sighs of relief once they crossed that infamous goal post.
There were always mileage logs and recorded receipts — and the terrible weeks leading up to the annual April 15 tax deadline.
There have been lean years and there have been flood years.
We talked about saving for retirement and we worried about the ever-increasing costs of health insurance.
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But my mother had a series of stories to tell that my father did not.
My parents separated when women were generally denied checking accounts and loans. Since my mother had no husband to sign for her, her father had to.
However, equal opportunity practices would largely come into play during his early years of independence, and soon his signature would carry its own weight. In fact, she later bought and sold rental properties in addition to running a business.
When I entered adulthood, I started working, having my own bank accounts, and getting my own mortgages for rental properties. I barely thought about my mother’s stories about what seemed like ancient history.
And now I’m the editor of a daily newspaper, a role that in years past has largely belonged to men.
It wasn’t until I reached my mother’s age that she stepped out into the world alone and had to have a man’s signature for the things that came so easily to me and my peers it struck me what my mother and my generations of women before her had to go through.
Although there is something that I share with my mother, it is this endless work that accompanies the balance of work and family.
I grew up in two two-parent homes, thanks to a wonderful mother-in-law and a fantastic father-in-law. I saw my mother and mother-in-law working all day, then cooking dinner and doing household chores. They only sat in the living room to relax for hours each evening after the men, if at all. The women were the ones who stayed home after work with sick children, and they arranged for babysitters when needed.
It’s hard to be a businesswoman. Often while I’m at work I worry about mowing the lawn, but while I’m mowing the lawn I worry about work.
You might be surprised at how many Bulletin articles are written in the stands at after-school events, or in the lobby of the dance studios or in the auditorium during evening Patriot Player rehearsals.
However, it all comes together in the end.
In this edition of the Sunday Business Quarterly, several businesswomen tell their stories. In Martinsville, a group of them discussed the challenges of balancing everything, as well as the rewards. Smith Mountain Lake’s Vicki Gardner recounts the transition from running the SML Chamber of Commerce to a new role, and Connie Nyholm shares a unique perspective on operating Virginia International Raceway, an area normally considered a man’s world. At Union Hall, Judy Grimm marked 30 years of owning and operating a business that supplies law enforcement and government agencies with forensic products and equipment. In Roanoke, discover the LeadHership series created to provide a space for businesswomen to gather, share and learn from each other.
We think you will enjoy these stories.
Even if you are rushing the time to read them between work assignments, occasionally interrupted by children calling you.
Henry County’s Holly Kozelsky is the editor of the Martinsville Bulletin.