Kristy Chong on the concept of 'Mumpreneur': What does it mean for women in business?

Kristy Chong on the concept of 'Mumpreneur': What does it mean for women in business?

Mumpreneur. A word that's tricky on the tongue! But what exactly does it mean and why does it exist? I felt it was time to put some stronger definition around the concept to help everyone out. In my own words “Mumpreneur is a woman with children who starts a business working from home with at least one child at home with her. She is also the main carer of the children.”

60 Minutes had a recent segment on the concept of mumpreneurs and interviewed businesswomen such as Dannielle Michaels and Monique Filer - founders of B box and Kristy Carr founder of Baby Bubs Organics. The fact was discussed that the word ‘mumpreneur’ often breeds images of women sitting at home, tippity tapping away on their laptops and sipping a nonfat latte while watching their baby play quietly. I don’t believe however that this is the case, these are street smart, business savvy women who are changing the world. Many just start out choosing to do so from their kitchen bench as opposed to a desk in a sky rise building. This is actually a smart business decision in my opinion. From my experience, starting a business without any external investment meant every dollar needed to provide a return on investment. Why spend money on rent, when it’s better to invest that money in marketing or stock. Also starting a business around my children meant I did not have to sacrifice the time with them for my job, I had more flexibility to work around the children eg. when they were sleeping.

Often times, women will leave their job for maternity leave to spend time raising their children, and when the time comes that they feel ready to re-enter the workforce, the game has completely changed. Some women find it too rigid and inflexible, and don't want to miss important moments in their children's lives, and often finding sufficient part time work can be a struggle. Others find that they work better when they are in control, setting their own goals and working to their own deadlines, as opposed to being bound to a corporate agenda, which was particularly true for me.

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year argued that becoming a mumpreneur was a last resort option for mothers that struggled to re-enter the workforce. The article, while highlighting some useful points, forgot to mention the liberation and positive aspects of being a mother and owning your own business. It shouldn’t imply that women are backed into a corner and end up becoming a mumpreneur as they have no other option. Women create their own business from home because they are empowered, driven and confident in their own abilities. No great idea was ever born out of fear or misapprehension, it takes self belief, a great support system and a lot of courage, trust me!

Recently Kevin Rudd made the remark should all men who have their business be called Dadpreneurs as well. My thought is that if a Dad creates a business of his own, and they are the main carer of their kids at home and so juggling the demands of these two worlds, they too should be given due credit.

Every business woman who is also a mother will have a different take on the concept of ‘mumpreneur’. I just believe it should be attributed to those who start businesses from home with children at home. I actually started Modibodi with a five and a half year old, a three and a half year old, and another who I rocked in my lap while answering emails. Did I find this difficult? Absolutely. But I’m never one to sit still for too long, and I couldn’t be happier that I started Modibodi.

The fact is, women who have left the workforce to raise their children are often highly experienced, skilled and professional - and those skills should not be compromised by the arrival of a little one! Mumpreneurs have created an industry of their own, a game changing industry. Us women are serious business entrepreneurs who just happen to have started our business with children at home, but this does not define us nor how big our businesses can be.

Modibodi is all about female empowerment, strength and belief. I believe that any woman is capable of whatever she puts her mind to, and women in the workforce, regardless of children, marital status, sexual orientation, shape, size or ethnicity are all highly valued - and should never be defined solely by these things.

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