I’m one of these growing hordes of parents who combine kids and business. Furtive work hours and secret networks are just two of the confessions I have to make as a mumpreneur.
Back in 2007, a UK survey of new mums found that a whopping 50% of them were thinking of starting up their own business. The media branded them ‘mumpreneurs’.
I have to admit I’m not that keen on this term. It’s a bit clunky. I’m not sure how to spell it. And I know a few ‘dadpreneurs’ too – an even trickier to pronounce word describing men who combine primary child care responsibility with self-employment.
In any case, here are some ponderings from a real life mumpreneur:
1. I only work three days a week. But my clients don’t know that
I run a writing business, which means I’m usually a writer, often a project manager, occasionally a business development manager. My clients think I’m on call for them (practically) 24/7. And it’s true I will look at things for them on the weekend or after hours. But on Mondays and Thursdays you’ll find me on the school run, teaching my 3 year old to ride a bike, or shopping for groceries. And if I answer a phone call while I’m building sandcastles, I’ve been known to pretend I’ve just stepped out of a meeting… into somewhere quite windy.
2. I didn’t start my business to make millions
I didn’t start a business with the intention of floating it and making my fortune. I started it to get a decent income on my terms, and not have to worry about what the boss will say if I have to stay home with my kids when they’re sick. And so far, it seems to be working.
3. I thought working from home would be great. Actually, it’s not…
I couldn’t get away from the kiddy clutter, the washing and the thought that I should be getting dinner ready. So now, two days a week I share an office space with a friend. I love the creative energy, and the fact that I can make someone else a cuppa and have a rant when things are tough.
It also means that when I close the door on work, I don’t see it anymore. Which means more time for the family.
4. I discovered my best network and source of ideas: the playground
After my first child was born, I started a kids clothing business. My friends were supportive, gave me my best design ideas and let me use their children as free models. I tapped into that network again recently, to get referrals to the business community that they used to belong to. All my first clients came from those tentative introductions. You never know who’ll you meet at the swing-set, so have some business cards handy just in case.
5. I’ve worked with products and with services. I like services better
That clothing business was fun. And as an ex-buyer, I knew what to do. But the cashflow was stressful. In order to grow, I needed to finance larger production. I sold the business instead, retrained, and started a service-based business. Now I have practically no overheads except my own time. I get paid promptly. I don’t have to find a place for all that stock. And I don’t have to worry about sticky Vegemite fingers ruining the samples when I’m not looking.
I’m willing to bet that quite a few of you flying soloists are dad or mumpreneurs. Or perhaps you’ve started your business so that you can have some time for your children when they eventually arrive.
So what do you think – do we have a different set of priorities? Share your confessions below.