We’ve partnered with our friends at Goldleaf Hydroponics, an indoor garden supply company located right here in Bloomington. Bloomington Moms Blog invited co-owner Monica Billman to share her journey with owning and running her own business while becoming a mother for the first time.
Many of you reading this may know my husband Kyle and I from the Bloomington Farmers’ Market or our hydroponics and indoor gardening supply store, Goldleaf, located on Production Drive, just past the junction of I-69 and 37. You may or may not know that along with being small business owners, we are also newly a small family. I hope that sharing my story might be helpful to other moms looking to start a business or other business owners looking to start a family.
A New Business and a New Baby
Bringing a new business and bringing a new baby into the world have some things in common. Both cannot be fully understood until they are done. I knew that I wanted to be a mother, but until it was really happening, so many things were just ideas. When my son was born, ideas and questions became immediate needs and tangible feelings. For one thing, no matter how many prenatal Lamaze classes one takes, it is hard to prepare–truly physically and psychologically prepare–for childbirth. It does not end there.
Possibly the most impossible thing to prepare for is the lack of sleep in the first days. When I say lack of sleep, I mean zero sleep. Your head starts to play games with you, but even at the most exhausted, drained moments, my husband and I found ourselves moving with purpose. We knew that this new little life depended entirely on us, so every choice became immediately clear. In this way, the worries that stressed us out before the birth felt less relevant. Since you cannot understand such a thing until it is happening, in some ways it is better to stay focused and calm, and not to torture yourself with worry, until the time for birth comes. That is one piece of advice I might give to my past self.
Planning and Preparation
In some ways, growing a new business is a lot like raising our son. Even before either began, we were planning and putting ideas to paper, checking and double checking finances, important dates, and where to find support. Now that both are here, we take every decision seriously. The wellbeing of our son and our business alike are affected by each and every choice we make. And, the two intersect, of course. Their demands can compete for our time. Therefore, balance is essential. In some ways, it comes naturally.
For my son, I am his world. Thus, I have to make him the priority. I have to acknowledge that either I will be away from our business or I will need to pay for help watching our son. Either way, the business’ profits might well slow. But, having a child makes that risk an easy and obvious one. Recognizing the support system around us is important, too. Being both business partners and life partners is its own special situation and a uniquely wonderful experience. I would not have it any other way. We are also so lucky to have our parents living not too far away, as well. They are available to help when the two of us are needed at Goldleaf at the same time.
In summary, I can say that raising a new baby while running a business is not an impossible task. Surely, though, it is not easy. More important than anything else, it is all worth it. Sleepless nights and days of exhaustion–they are all investments in a future, and that future with our son is more rewarding than any amount of money or sleep.
Monica Billman, Goldleaf Hydroponics Indoor Garden Supply
“Goldleaf Hydroponics was founded in November 2016 by Kyle and Monica Billman in Bloomington, Indiana, with the mission of bringing innovative and sustainable cultivation products and practices to hobby and commercial gardeners locally and across the country. Goldleaf works with multiple distributors and specializes in sales of indoor and traditional gardening equipment, including organic fertilizers and hydroponic nutrients, horticultural lighting, soil and amendments, environmental controllers and more.
Monica is driven by hydroponics’ sustainable impact on the world. In 2014, she received her Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University and began her professional career in legal advocacy and public relations for nonprofit organizations, Monroe County Government, the Indiana Attorney General, and Indiana University. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, speaking French, Spanish and learning new languages.”