Mothers & Daughters In Business
Founder, National Association of
Mothers and Daughters in Business (NAMDB)
Jamie Kizer intends to be the leading spokesperson for a subset of the largest growing sector in the US small business market. Women-owned businesses increased by 42.3% between 1997 and 2006, almost twice the rate of growth for all US firms, according to the most recent Census Bureau data. Since then, experts attribute economic recession and high unemployment to the continuing increase in women entrepreneurs. The Small Business Administration estimates there are now 8.3 million businesses owned by women. About 30% (2.5 million) of them are mother-daughter teams. This is the target group for the National Association of Women and Daughters in business (NAMDB).
When Jamie Kizer and her daughter, Jordan Nikoloff, decided to open a fashion store in Pennsylvania in 2011, Jamie thought it was a dream come true. Jordan had been brought up in an entrepreneurial atmosphere. Jamie had started 12 companies in her career and experienced the rewards of success and the instruction of failure.
She laughs, "Within a few weeks after the store's grand opening there was trouble in Paradise. Conflict wasn't part of our relationship, so I was stunned by the unspoken tension between us." Jamie searched for books, articles and other mother-daughter business owners that might offer guidance, direction or even anecdotal information about how they made it work. She says, "There was almost nothing out there. I realize now how many new markets are stumbled on because someone needs something and it's not there."
Their fashion business lasted four months. Both Jordan and Jamie believed their relationship was more important than the business. Jordan moved to Scottsdale, AZ, married and is "so much happier." Jamie admits to some serious and stinging soul searching. She came to understand that working with her daughter was JAMIE'S VISION. We were going to set the world on fire. Jamie made assumptions about what was in her daughter's best interest without really consulting Jordan. Jordan was initially afraid to express her unhappiness for fear of hurting her mother's feelings. Jamie now admires Jordan's strength in being true to herself.
Jamie's openness and vulnerability about their business failure lends authority and authenticity to her passion to help other mother-daughter teams in business. Jamie's zeal led to the establishment of the National Association of Mother's and Daughters in Business (NAMDB). The mission statement is to: "Recognize, celebrate, and support the unique relationship between mother and daughter as they grow a successful business, building a bond and a legacy that will last for generations to come."
One of the association's first publications is a free report (available on their website-see below) about five tools that are essential if you are considering (or already involved in) starting a business as a mother-daughter partnership. See a brief paraphrase of the key points:
Let Go of Expectations & Assumptions:
.Forget the original/traditional mother/daughter hierarchy-you are partners.
. Let each person express her vision; discuss and create a shared vision.
. Define a clear roadmap to identify where each of you see the business leading; decide what roles each of you will play; discuss each other's strengths and weaknesses.
Engage in Open & Honest Communication
. Be able to discuss touchy/controversial subjects.
. Become an active listener, seeking to understand, rather than be understood.
.Learn to use constructive criticism; don't indulge in sarcasm and negativity.
Balance Individuality & Closeness
.Determine strategies for discussing and resolving conflicting opinions.
. Identify strengths of each partner to maximize synergy.
Repair Damage Quickly
.Accept inevitability of conflict; don't deny or repress continuing stress/tension.
. Make a contract to really let go and move forward.
. Trust that poor decisions or wrong strategies can highlight the right path forward.
. Agree that residual ill feelings or resentments are damaging to growth/success.
Make Time for Bonding Apart from Work
. Keep business and pleasure separate.
. Build in separate time to enjoy each other outside of work: shopping; movies; spa days.
. Take time to re-fuel and relax outside the office.
Jamie is also working on a book-Mothers and Daughters in Business. She has already interviewed more than 200 mother-daughter partners. What she consistently hears from these women are the positive aspects they experience working together. Number one is TRUST. There is great solidarity in believing that your business partner is your champion and truly on your side.
There is also the advantage of different generational strengths and perspectives. Daughters often bring advanced technological skills and social media tools to the business. Mothers bring experience and a strong work ethic. Partnerships allow lifestyle flexibility, enabling family and child care issues to be more easily solved.
Jamie reflects, "I've discovered that those [mother-daughter partnerships] who really work well have a couple of things in common. They consider themselves best of friends. They are generally traditional in their social and cultural outlooks. And they have a history of an easy relationship with each other-NO drama. There is also the single mother-daughter dynamic of "Us against the world."
Jamie knows from experience success largely depends on the mother being evolved enough to let her daughter take risks and make mistakes without feeling judged or jeopardized. The mother may even have to realize her dream is not her daughter's. Jamie hopes NAMDB can expand its presence and support in state and community chapters throughout America to enable future mother-daughter owners to benefit from the collective experience and expertise of strong, engaged women. This is her goal.plus she will have created an important legacy because of Jordan.
If you are a mother-daughter partnership and wish to be interviewed go to MothersAndDaughtersInBusiness.com, and click on Book on the homepage menu.