family biz





Making the transition from the corporate world to entrepreneurship

By Marlynn Jayme Schotland, Founder and CEO, EventBliss and SchotlandPR

Marlynn, with Robyn Taylor Barbon, at a Portland Mamas Inc. networking event

Lian Higa and son at the July PMI event.

- Photos by TM Custom Portraits

One year after leaving my job working for a national corporation to launch my own businesses, I find myself still in transition mode. With the elated feelings of freedom that come with starting your own business after working for others for decades, comes the realization that as a new entrepreneur, one must learn which lessons and corporate practices to take with you from the corporate world to help your business grow, and which to toss out the window in this new parent entrepreneur realm.

As the boss, you take the credit and the blame. When you are a small business owner, you are the company. As a parent entrepreneur, that’s a heavy responsibility: your actions and words are dissected by others as representative of not only our company, but also often of you as a mom or dad. As if there weren’t enough pressure for being either a parent or an en

trepreneur; when you are both, it is double the pressure, double the responsibility.

Communication styles in the corporate world and the small business world can be vastly different. I come from a place where everyone understands the politics of work relationships and communication styles. There are certain ways of handling issues, certain ways to have business conversations, and a general understanding of what is and what is not ok to say at certain times to certain people. I understand the corporate office politics dance and feel comfortable with it; the small business world, however, is like a whole new ballgame. Some vendors are more blunt than others, some are too vague; some vendors take days to get back to me or misplace paperwork without an apology, some don’t even have an invoicing system. For a communications professional, it is fascinating to observe and become entrenched in the small business way of doing things. At times I am completely frustrated by the level of professionalism of some fellow small business owners, but there are also times when I find it refreshing as I learn to navigate my own waters in this new world. Mom entrepreneurs, especially, communicate differently in general, and I have found that some customers expect me to be less “business-like” simply because I am also a mother.

Controlling your schedule to maintain balance is more difficult than one can imagine. I now realize that in many ways, my life was easier when I had an office outside of my house to go to five days a week, for nine hours a day. Even when those hours and days were longer on some weeks, it was still an easy routine. Now, the days are more hectic, as I race from home office to meetings throughout the city, figuring out whether or not my son will go to the meetings with me or whether I need to arrange childcare, feeling the need to do laundry while a report is printing. While many people switch to a home office situation to create more family time, as an extreme Type A personality, I have found that more difficult to achieve than I had imagined. Most days, I am still in the mindset that I must work at the speed of lightening and work every available moment in order to be effective. It is just now starting to sink in that I am the boss: I make my own hours, I work as hard as I need to and I can play as hard as I want to. My schedule is my own, and I can’t blame anyone else if I am working too hard or not spending enough time with my family.

Determining appropriate small business office attire can causes headaches. Every small business has its own standards for appropriate office attire, and since I mainly do work with fellow small businesses, I can find myself either overdressed or underdressed in meetings, a dilemma that wasn’t as common working in corporate America. As a parent entrepreneur whose child is now home full-time with me, getting dressed for work can be quite the challenge. Do I wear nice pants and risk getting apple juice stains all over them before the meeting, or will nice jeans and a blouse that will camouflage any stains work?

There are more differences in the daily workings of a parent entrepreneur compared to working in a corporate setting and I am slowly working my way through the transition. All in all, the benefits of working for myself from home far outweigh any challenges, and I feel lucky that there are so many others in Portland who are going through the same transition with which to share our experiences and learn from one another.

Fall 2006

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Child Care Options

Finding Work-Life Balance


Marlynn Jayme Schotland is committed to helping other mothers find their passion and fulfillment in both everyday life and business, and her businesses specialize in family-focused graphic + Web design and public relations. A former broadcast journalist and public relations director, Marlynn Jayme Schotland's extensive communications portfolio consists of award-winning and results-oriented media relations campaigns, writing, design, publications, community relations programming and event management.

Event Bliss is her custom stationery & graphic design studio, where she creates sleek | modern | fresh | fun personalized stationery, Mama & Papa Calling Cards ™, birth announcements, event invitations and where she develops effective identity design for small- to medium-sized businesses. She helps family-owned businesses with public relations needs through her private practice, SchotlandPR. Marlynn discovered that there were no local organizations that effectively addressed both business and family life issues and which actively supported business owners who were also mothers, and thus she founded Portland Mamas Inc. on Mother’s Day 2006.

In addition to her three businesses, Marlynn is mom to Ethan and Cate, and married to her college sweetheart.

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