The Mumpreneur Controversy

Woman at Work by FaceMePls
Woman at Work by FaceMePls

Mumpreneur – do you love it or hate it? Women seem to be split whether they welcome the word mumpreneur as a great description or feel that it is another neologism which, to quote one twitter user, “makes me do a little bit of sick in my mouth. ”

A recent article on The Mumpreneur Explosion in Marketing Magazine focuses on mums setting up baby-product businesses and suggests that, “every second new mum out there is either setting up a business or thinking about it. The parenting/ baby-needs industry now has a turnover of over $6.3 billion a year in Australia.” I think that this article may be missing something: while alot of mumpreneurs do set up businesses selling baby products there are far more who are setting up all sorts of different businesses. Whether you want a web designer, accountant, copywriter, virtual assistant, dog walker or someone who designs jewellery or clothes, you can find a mumpreneur who offers that business or service.

And importantly, the internet has made it much easier for women to create flexible and family friendly businesses. This means that women are no longer limited to low paid part time work once they want to have flexible hours which fit round the family. The rise of the mumpreneur is a force to drive employers to take flexible employment seriously: otherwise, they will find all their best female employees starting their own businesses. Long live the mumpreneur!

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  • The increase in “older” mothers with years of work experience has meant that mums no longer have to settle for poorly paid, part time work and can do it for themselves. The term is a bit sickly though !

  • Well, I’ve been running my own business for 10 years now, long before I had children, so it would annoy me a bit if someone used it about me. But…. I don’t mind WAHM – use it in my blog title, in fact, so may be a bit of a hypocrite.

    I can see why some women might find it a tad patronising, though I do tend to equate the term with businesses that specifically spring from being a mum, and are often aimed at mums (maternity wear, slings, etc.), so it’s a bit more descriptive in that sense.

  • We use this word in the title of our interview series and I admit that we’re considering changing it as I’m not always sure how I feel about the word recently. That said, what I loved about this post is that you highlighted that mums are starting businesses in many other areas – there are only so many baby product businesses that can really take off and aside from this, many mums had excellent skills or interests that they have found ways to capitalise on that don’t involve babies. I think it’s wonderful – we have never had more opportunity to be our own boss.

  • Personally I like the word mumpreneur. It’s great that it is so much easier these days to start a business. Many mumpreneurs are in the baby products industry because they are in an ideal position to spot gaps in the market and come up with ideas for new products. Now we have the internet it is a lot easier to assess the competition, research the market and set up as a seller than it was before. The industry is doing well even in a recession and our lives are definetely made easier by all the new products available.

  • Interesting point about older mums Lynn. I know that I certainly found it easier to work for myself with a few years experience under my belt. On the other hand I also know lots of young mums who have started their own business as a way of getting round employer prejudices and/or lack of formal qualifications.

    Tasha – I see that you could well feel mumpreneur doesn’t apply to you when you’ve been running your business for many pre-mum years. I know that other women don’t feel WAHM works for them: maybe because they have aspirations to move their business out of the home, have already done so, or feel that the perception of a WAHM is someone running a hobby business.

    Nat – I’ve been running mumpreneur profiles on this site since last year, and I think that there are a few problems with the word: sometimes I profile women who don’t have kids but are really interesting and/or dads… so I had to make up dadpreneur too LOL! I think the word does the job, and the really important message is that parents are entrepreneurs too.

    Louise – glad to find someone in favour of the word! (Not least because I’m kind of invested in it…..see You are so right that the internet has made so much more possible for a mum working part time or flexibly round the family.

  • I hate the term, personally, and I agree with the ‘tweeter’ (also yeurgh) who said the thing about it inducing a little bit of sick in the mouth. My reasoning is that I firmly believe mums should be treated in exactly the same way as any other business person. I don’t want special treatment for being a mum, I just want equality. I recently read a (sorry to the editor) really badly produced magazine called Mums in Control. It made me feel very sad in that it seemed to be saying “I’m producing a magazine about mums working but it’s allowed to be a bit below par (badly laid out, poor photography, hadn’t been proofread) because I’m a mum producing it”. I say, let’s strive to be equal, not ‘special’.

  • I’m not sure that ‘mumpreneur’ is a call for special treatment: I DO think it is a call to other mums who might not realise just how many women are successfully combining work and family. It could be a way to raise awareness and encourage other mums to become entrepreneurs.

    Interesting to hear your views on the Mums In Control magazine. I think we’re in the same local area. I was pleased to see the magazine starting up here and have read a copy online. I didn’t pick up that it had not been proofread…. but then I’m definitely not a proofreader! [Now going away to worry that you’re looking through this site which your proofreader’s hat on]

  • I promise I’m not (intentionally), but because it’s what I do, sometimes things just jump out. It can be quite annoying when you’re reading something for pleasure! As far as the ‘mumpreneur’ debate goes, yes I think you’re probably right, it does tell mums that it’s possible to juggle work and family but it is a perception I have, and something which I think needs to be kept in mind so that mums in business (and those helping them) don’t perpetuate an image of some sort of business underclass.

  • Hmmm, don’t like the term personally, maybe because of the associations of things being a bit ‘mumsy’? I see myself more as an “integrateneur” – finding ways to an integrated life. Work isn’t work, but something I love to do which brings me an income too. I’m not defined by my business, nor am I defined by my children. I aspire to be human but delivering to a consistently high standard for my clients, kids and husband alike (kids might argue that I’m consistent, but not in a good way first thing on a Monday though!). My personal values are my business values too.
    No, now I think about it, it isn’t the ‘mumsy’ label that gets me. In a previous working life I was a female forester and hated anything then that made me out to be different from my male colleagues, so I suppose my reaction’s the same with other gender specific labels and the assumptions that come with them. My husband has always taken a very equal parenting role and has been tremendously supportive as I’ve launched my own business. If roles had been reversed I’m not sure how I would have viewed him calling himself a ‘Dadpreneur’…

  • I just got a google alert that you had mentioned my article so thought I would post a reply!! Firstly, I have to say I agree with you, that many ‘mumpreneurs’ (for want of a better word) create businesses outside of the parenting industry however, for the purposes of the blog I only had 200 words and just couldn’t fit everything in.

    Here in Oz the Mumpreneur (or Mums starting businesses when they have kids in order to give them a more flexible lifestyle) has been running under the radar of the media (unlike with you guys in the UK) so I am hoping to get a little more coverage for Mums like me!!

    I have to say, I quite like the name Mumpreneur and wear it with pride. Have a few entrepreneurial Dads here who want to be called dapreneurs too and even have a book ffrom the US about Parentpreneurs. It’s all happening!!

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