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The term ‘Mumpreneur’ refers to mums who start a business to work around raising children. With escalating childcare costs and the stress of commuting, there’s been a huge increase in women quitting 9 to 5 employment to set-up a business from home whilst looking after their children.

No one ever plans to be a mumpreneur. You don’t sit at school with a careers officer and tell them that one day you will start a business to work around your children.

When you have children life changes dramatically. You find yourself dealing with the stresses and expense of working full-time and it can feel very overwhelming. It also means you cannot be there for your children when you would like to as you must fit around the constraints of an employer. This is when women turn to self-employment as they see this as the answer to their problem.

Why I work for myself

I became a ‘mumpreneur’ in 1998, after becoming a single parent when my son was three. I left my corporate life to work part-time and spend more time with my son, however back then, part-time jobs were almost non-existent. Since 2011, I have owned a networking company - Mums UnLtd; and have a successful marketing and events agency which has grown and evolved over time.

Weirdly, I’d never planned to have my own business, it just evolved over time.

So, you want to start your own business…

Many people see working for themselves an easy option. It isn’t. Getting a business up and running takes time, commitment and usually some funding. It may also take a while to see a regular income coming in. Think about how you will live, what income you need (and have access to) to support yourself (i.e. savings or other income). Also, consider that:

  • Employment = paid regular salary, paid holidays, sick pay and potentially other benefits
  • Self-Employment = payment on sale of goods or services and no benefits

You automatically have two jobs

Being an entrepreneur is already a hard, long road. Then we add in a second job – raising a family. Here lies the problem! Most women start a business doing something they know already but what they don’t know is how to run a business or how to do it whilst balancing the needs of a family.

Pros and Cons

If you’re thinking of going down the self-employed route, I recommend you write a list or draw a mind map to explore your thoughts and identify the pros and cons for staying in employment versus becoming self-employed. It may look something like this…

Pro’s:

  • Full-time salary – reliable income
  • Benefits package – what is the total value of all non-salary extras e.g. bonus scheme, life insurance, childcare vouchers etc.
  • Company car, healthcare, pension
  • Structure – times you work, and holiday time is structured
  • Paid holiday
  • Sick pay
  • Interaction with colleagues
  • Doing a job have trained for/love.

Con’s:

  • Expensive childcare
  • No benefits
  • No structure
  • No paid holiday
  • No sick pay
  • No colleagues to interact with
  • Problems when children are sick
  • You may require training.

It isn’t easier, it’s different

Around 80% of business start-ups fail within the first three years, and it’s just as high in the next three years. I hate the word fail, people who do not make a success of running a business around a family usually have numerous reasons for giving up. However, it’s important to remember that mistakes can be a positive learning curve and preventable with the right advice and support.

The Successful Mumpreneur

What separates the successful Mumpreneur from an unsuccessful one? The successful ones get advice, support and then listens. They research their idea carefully, work on the numbers and work out a strategy to combine this with their family. Then, most importantly of all, they execute their strategy. Remember you can’t start a successful business instantly, it takes time.

‘Proper planning prevents pathetic performance’ - I can’t remember where I heard this, but it has stuck with me for years. And it is so true. So, if you go down the self-employed route you need to start writing business and marketing plans. They will help you see where your gaps are.

I hope by now you’re beginning to understand that being a Mumpreneur is not the easy option, it’s about planning, time management and making the business you develop work for you, your family and your customers, and believe me this isn’t easy. But if you’re up for the challenge, let’s go!! In my book ‘The Successful Mumpreneur: How to work flexibly around your family doing what you love’ you’ll find a full ‘warts and all’ account of what it’s really like to start a business whilst juggling family life.