There was a time when becoming pregnant signalled the end of a woman’s career. Now it seems that maternity leave has become the springboard for many mums to setup in business for themselves. From selling items via online auction sites to building multi-million dollar brands, mothers are using their skills, knowledge and savvy in enterprising and creative ways. This growing trend has led to a new term being developed to describe these dynamic women: Mumpreneur. However, combining the role of mum and entrepreneur can mean working long hours to build a business and run a household. So what is it about working for themselves that appeals to mothers?
One potential benefit is an improvement in work-life balance. By managing their own time, women are better able to balance work commitments with the demands of looking after a family. That does not mean that mumpreneurs work fewer hours than other business leaders. The work-life balance results from structuring their day to allow them to spend time with their family when it really matters. Traditional working hours may require a woman to leave the house before the children wake up and arrive home after they are in bed. In contrast, many mumpreneurs are most productive during school hours and in the evening after the children are in bed. This allows them spend quality time with their families in the afternoon.
Also, many mumpreneurs work from home, freeing them up from a lengthy commute. However being home-based need not limit growth potential. Julie Aigner Clark, founder of the Baby Einstein brand, grew her company from sales of €100,000 in 1997 to €20 million five years later. Thoughout that time Julie was working out of her own home. The growth of commerce on the internet has enabled home-based businesses to have a global reach. mumpreneurs can generate online sales in other countries or even distant continents without even leaving the house.
Of course, combining motherhood and business development is not easy. Mumpreneurs face all the same challenges as conventional entrepreneurs when building their businesses. Securing investment, managing cash flow and dealing with supplier issues are just as difficult for a working mother as for any other business leader. In addition, they can experience feelings of isolation resulting from spending so much time within the home. As a result, online networks of support for mumpreneurs are growing in popularity.
Even ABC’s reality television Shark Tank has caught onto the mumpreneur trend. In series one, mumpreneurs Tiffany Krumins and Lori Lite secured funding from real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran for their innovative medicine dispenser and stress reducing books and CDs for kids. It will be fascinating to watch how these mumpreneurs fare as they grow their high profile businesses.
Whether they want to run an information website for the local community or develop and innovation from concept to production, there are now a wide range of options open to mothers, enabling them to grow their business while raising a family.