Excuse me while I contribute to the economy

I once visited a hotel in Holland with a pool with a wave-machine. Push a button and waves would start rolling towards you, thus helping you build upper body strength. Start your own business in Belgium, combine it with motherhood and you get a perfect reenactment of that experience.

Being an entrepreneur is already a swim-or-drown-exercise, but a few tips along the way can really help calm the weather.

Leadarise Young Woman to Watch Anne-Sofie van den Born Rehfeld
Leadarise Young Woman to Watch Anne-Sofie van den Born Rehfeld


You are all prepared with your business plan and your financial scheme, ready to go through the statutes of your new company. Then your accountant turns to your lawyer and tells him: ‘Look I brought you a cute client’…while you are standing right there. Yes, that happened.

Let’s agree that it is not acceptable for business partners, clients or service providers to comment on your looks or your attire in business dealings. Or to cut you off while you explain your business plan, so they can explain it back to you in an ‘improved’ version. Be aware of your limits and prepare a quick comeback (in French) in order to shut it down as quickly as possible. Don’t just smile while you die inside. If you just accept it and let it roll off you, even nice guys tend to think it is okay.

Arrested Development

Guilt, emotional blackmail, extra work and daily assignments – no I am not talking about the children, but about the school system. ‘Please bring an entire outfit in green and a homemade sock doll tomorrow morning’ or; ‘join us to paint and clean and entire school for a weekend’. I need my children to be in day care so they can learn social skills and so I can work. However, the reality is that dealing with the child care system is an extra part-time job. I dropped my jaw, when I got the invitation for a Mother’s Day party at the school at 13.30 on a Friday. I sincerely doubt that fathers will be asked to take a half to a whole day off when Father’s Day comes around.

What to do about the eternal conundrum of the work-life-parenthood balance? All I can say is that I refuse to feel guilty for working, creating and contributing to the economy. But there is a need to address the way men and women speak to each other in business situations and there is a need for schools to view parenting roles in an enlightened way. If we continue to address these needs then maybe, just maybe, our daughters will experience mere ripples instead of a wave machine on the highest setting when they decide to open their own businesses.

Anne-Sofie van den Born Rehfeld is the founder of The Library Group and a mother of two girls. The Library is a boutique business centre, which feels like a private home. It offers coworking, private offices and meeting spaces. The second Library is due to open later in 2014. http://www.thelibrarygroup.be


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