What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Mumpreneur’? A mum with a webstore selling baby gear? That’s one stereotype, but it sells short the many women who own all sorts of businesses who are also juggling a family. There is an article in the Times which outlines some ‘mumpreneur stereotypes’ which also perhaps don’t help the cause:
“Green mum: Makes biodynamic herbal body cream for mother and child. Qualifications Home aromatherapy course. Funding Not much needed. Herbs are grown in the garden; packaging is recycled pesto jars; her brother did the website. HQ The shed — for now.
Artistic mum: Launched Tiny Goes to Town, a weekly yoga and poetry group for mums and babies, featuring spoken-word performances and baby downward dogs. Qualifications Talent, tenacity, contacts. Before children A marketing exec. Does it fulfil her? She’s never felt so creatively liberated; she gets invited to much better dinner parties now. And hubbie? Very hands-on (partly because he likes dropping by the group to meet the other yummy mummies).
High-flyer mum: Invented Lato Max, an inflatable milk-expressing machine. Before children Communications director of a FTSE 100 company. Had the idea Breast-feeding Archie in the ladies’ cloakroom at Scott’s. Qualifications MBA from Harvard Business School; a mind like a steel trap. Funding Dragons’ Den. Profit Forecasting a turnover of £500,000 in the next quarter.
Social mum: Created Simply India, a range of organic baby shahtooshes. Qualifications Having friends who buy the “divine” shahtooshes for all of their friends. Funding Banker husband — it’s still cheaper than her daily visits to Matches. Before children Public relations. Had the idea During a coffee morning with friends at Nobu. Does it fulfil her? Yes, but she’s interviewing for a CEO to oversee it. She can’t do it all.”
So what do we do? Throw out the word ‘mumpreneur’ altogether and lose out on the way it helps us link up with others in similar situations for support, conferences and networking? Or make it a priority to raise the profiles of women who are serious about business and committed to making a profit while prioritising the needs of their families too? Read Helen’s post about businessmums and profit over at BusinessPlusBaby. Helen writes, ” I don’t want anyone to think of my new business as a little hobby to keep me busy while I care for my babies. I may work part time, but I take my business every bit a seriously as I took my previous career. In fact, the stakes are even higher now. I need the money to keep a roof over my family’s head and I want to set a good example for my children. I aim to do work that I enjoy, but if it doesn’t pay me what I’m worth I’ll find another business idea.”
I’m totally in agreement with Helen and know that most mums with businesses are serious and committed, but don’t always find it easy to turn this commitment into big bucks. When I run courses the majority of women attendees are in business to HELP in some way. You can only be truly effective as a helper if your business is strong, and making a profit will allow your business to grow and help more people. Many women need to change the way they think about money and how they feel asking for money. Research has shown that women are less comfortable to ‘name their price’ than men, and women in ‘helping’ professions are less comfortable than, say, women working in IT. Say how much you want for your service out loud: are you comfortable saying this or do you feel a bit apologetic? I know I do.
I believe that the mumpreneur movement is a great opportunity for women to get together to learn more business and financial skills. There is a big need for courses (like the session at the Mumpreneur conference last year) to help people break down the costs they are incurring when running their business and factor them into their charges, and training to help mums with businesses analyse where their profits are coming from and work out how to maximise them.
Do you see ‘mumpreneur’ as something that helps mums who own businesses, or something that is holding us back?