Mum's the word

Mum's the word

March 15, 2010 by Anna Mullinder

The Start Up Donut’s week-long celebration of mums who run businesses – mumpreneurs, kitchen table tycoons, business mums, businesswomen, call them what you will – is over for another year. What did we learn?

People don’t necessarily like to be labelled, so do we need a term to define this group? Is it necessary for people to know you’re a mum or is the fact you have children irrelevant?

The discussion surrounding the term ‘mumpreneur’ on our forum threw up some interesting opinions.

On the one hand, business women such as Laura Rigney are proud of the ‘mumpreneur’ tag. She said: “It takes an awful lot of determination and dedication to start a business from scratch and then continue running it while doing the everyday things that come with being a mother”.

Emily Cagle disagreed, saying: “The main issue for me is the irrelevant categorisation of a business owner (who happens to be female and a parent). People tend to mean well by using the term to recognise the challenges mums often face, but I think it's generally unhelpful.”

There will always be disagreements over such things, anyway, if Cara Sayer is right, the term 'mumprenenur' will undoubtedly go out of fashion”. Other terms, such as ‘kitchen table tycoon’, were also disliked, it must be said.

We also invited guest blog posts from business mums last week and it was interesting to see the common themes: the importance of being resourceful; effective time-management; the need for multi-tasking; the need to start up on a shoestring; remain flexible; and being adept at prioritisation of time and tasks.

The lessons learned when managing a family and various school runs, mealtimes, hobbies and bedtime routines can be very useful when running a business.

You can see from the case studies that we’ve featured on the site, such as April Browne who runs Crystal Jewels, that despite much competition for their time, many mums continue to be inspired to start a business, while for some, such as Claire Willis of SnugBaby, necessity is still the mother of invention and the basis for many new mum-owned enterprises.

At the end of the week, I asked an open question on Twitter aimed at all business mums: “What was your inspiration for starting your business?" These were just some of the replies:

  • Being able to work around my children and hopefully be able to provide them with a fulfilling, nurtured life! @LauraARigney
  • Flexibility of working hours, being able to do kids’ illnesses with no guilt and calling my own shots on what I take on. @essentialnm
  • Being my own boss and the ability to work from home while still looking after my children. Doing something I love helps too! @EmmaEwers
  • I wanted more flexibility! My long-hours PR job didn't suit any more - I wanted control! @businessmum
  • Sick of making a lot of money for someone else and wanting to spend time with my bubs! @bingoreviewer
  • Flexibility to not miss out on my children growing & to keep my brain active doing something I enjoy (designing websites). @glassraven
  • An overwhelming demand for my products. Initially a hobby, so I really had some learning to do!  and the realisation that if I worked hard enough I might be able to stay at home with George @Preciousparcels
  • Because it's something I'm passionate about. I think more people would choose #realnappies if they knew how fab they are! @RealChoiceNappy
  • My inspiration was not wanting someone else to have the pleasure of bringing up my children when I had struggled to have them. @mumstheboss
  • I'd always wanted to work for myself & having my son made me desire financial independence. These 2 goals still motivate me. @EmmaWimhurst
  • Redundancy, divorce and the need to see my children through university. @cathyrecruit
  • Being able to work around my children and having the luxury of not having to rush treatments as I plan my own diary. @OnlyHolistic

These were broadly representative, with the vast majority related to having enough flexibility to look after children while still providing for the family. Starting a business seems to be the perfect solution for women who want to continue working but who also want to spend time with their children while they’re small.

On a personal level, it’s been really nice to be in touch with such a lovely group of people who’ve been so helpful and really got stuck in with the discussions.

I’d like to say a special thank you to our blog contributors and to everyone who retweeted, commented, said hello and helped to spread the word. Although Mother’s Day has been and gone, our support for mums running their own businesses will continue throughout the year.

 Anna Kirby, BHP Information Solutions

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