At a sunny Octoberfest BBQ one recent weekend, I found myself chatting to a fellow business owner and mother-of-two. My company is a growing mid-tier marketing agency; hers is a successful mid-tier healthcare training company. We had a lot in common about running a small business in general, and the challenges of being a mother and business owner in particular. Are we our own worst enemy? Are we insane for trying to juggle it all? Do we want it all, and at what point does something have to give?
Our conversation led me to think more about the ‘mumpreneur’ phenomenon – mums who run a business. First, let’s look at some facts about women in business. In June, the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry released a new report, ‘The National Research on Women Business Owners and Female Entrepreneurs’. The report revealed that in Australia the number of female business owners has doubled since 2007 to around 700,000 women – fantastic news! The research also found that 78 per cent of these business owners left their previous employment at the middle to upper-management level, 33 per cent employ staff and 42 per cent started their business with less than $5,000.
It is clear that businesswomen are growing in numbers and turnover – and within that group, there is the equally fast growing group of mumpreneurs. Think Boost Juice, Carman’s Fine Foods, Red Balloon, Bloom Cosmetics – all very successful Australian businesses started by mums. Aspiring to a better work-life balance, these women have turned their backs on corporate roles and are setting up their own businesses instead. I am always inspired to meet other women in the same situation and love to hear about their achievements, strategies, insights and top tips.
With Manning & Co’s fifth birthday just around the corner, I have taken some time to stop and smell the roses, and reflect on my journey to date. Here are my top 5 insights and tips for mumpreneur success:
1. Be realistic when starting your business. Success doesn’t come overnight. There is a lot of hard work upfront and in the early years. It’s not uncommon to work 12 to 16-hour days and most weekends. But once the hard work has been put in and you see momentum building, it is incredibly satisfying and well worth it.
2. Be prepared for a different kind of stress. Being a mumpreneur doesn’t necessarily equate to the flexible and stress-free lifestyle you might be hoping for. Yes, being your own boss means you can tweak the hours to take your children to school or swimming classes, but running your own business doesn’t stop when you leave the office. Being the boss means you are more accountable than ever, and it will take a while to achieve the perfect work-life balance. I am still learning how!
3. Love what you do! Make sure you are really passionate about your fledgling business, as it will potentially occupy your every waking hour. You need to love it enough that you still find something to celebrate, even on the toughest days.
4. Be prepared for chaos. There are moments when you will ask yourself, “Can I really do this?” Always believe in yourself and be prepared to have good and bad days. At times you will think, help! Get me back to a normal job without the stresses and responsibilities of running a business! But most of the time, being the maker of your own destiny is amazing, fulfilling and very rewarding.
5. Don’t feel guilty about your achievements. I speak to a lot of women who feel guilty about focusing on their business while being a mum and having children. My view is that running a business and being a mother is no small feat – and is something you should be proud of. Personally, I want to inspire my own daughters and have them grow up feeling that they can chase their dreams, be ambitious and still be a mum.