Screaming babies, filthy nappies and sleepless nights may not seem the best time to take on the added responsibility of starting up your own business, but the number of ‘mumpreneurs’ is continuing to increase with many new mums deeming becoming their own boss as the best way of juggling work and motherhood.
Setting your own hours so you can work flexibly amid the nursery and school run, being able to carve out time to take part in kids activities, making your own rules, losing the commute, totally managing your own time, creativity and income…
So Mamans, how many of you pre-kidlets dreamed about being your own boss? More so, now being a mum perhaps the idea and the necessity of being able to work more flexibly has becomes almost irresistible?
There are a whopping 300,000 (and rising) established businesses in the UK run by women, and 807,000 self-employed women working part-time – the highest since records began in 1992, with those wanting to fit work around family life being likely to be behind the boom. And why wouldn’t you…?
The “mum economy” is thriving in the UK, generating a staggering £7.2bn for the nation’s coffers and supporting 204,000 jobs last year alone.
A new report from economic think tank Development Economics, commissioned by eBay, has evaluated the contribution of “mumpreneurs” to the UK, and found that the sector is growing at an unprecedented rate. By 2025, the report claims that the mum economy will generate £9.5bn for the UK and support an extra 13,000 employees, taking the total jobs created by mumpreneurs to 217,600. These figures have been reached using data from the Office for National Statistics.
The most popular business sectors for entrepreneurial mothers range from retail to entertainment to management consultancy to care home management.
Now I need to admit early on I’m not a Maman, work for me has always been my baby so I do feel pretty unqualified having been asked to blog. Rather the ‘baby’ that I’ve brought into the world over the past 8 years has been Little Soap Company so I have done the business bit, just without the added complications of dirty nappies thrown into the mix!
However, doing what I do I’ve met so many inspirational, entrepreneurial businesswomen Mamans along the way who are building impressive companies, creating both wealth and jobs while also fulfilling one of the most demanding roles of all – being a mum.
Technology today means it’s easier than ever before to work outside an office, with many mothers running global businesses from home.
Keira O’Mara being the first special lady to spring to mind. Keira launched Mama Designs 8 years ago after being self conscious breastfeeding in public and looking for a solution – and so Mama Designs was born. Her range has grown, creating an array of stylish yet practical award winning products for mums and babies. Think bright cotton cellular blankets with clashing trims, multi tog baby sleeping bags with removable layers and much more…
Another friend Jules Waddell has always been a foodie and worked as a freelance radio journalist, whilst working on BBC Radio 4’s “The Food Programme” she was researching humous and with James, her youngest being a bit fussy, she made a smoked version which he loved – she now lines the shelves of Waitrose and BA club Class with her snack packs of Moorish Smoked humous, aioli and dips (Love Moorish).
There is also Maman Jenny Hudson who owns Sweet As up in Leamington Spa who makes the most amazing cakes and treats – definitely worth a visit or phonecall if you’re after something show stopping!
So why do create your own business?
1. It’s flexible. Working for yourself may mean more hours BUT you can do so on your own terms. You can work in the middle of the night or of an evening and do lunch with a friend or get the kids together for a play day. You can work from home or an office or on holiday and nobody knows (or cares). When you’re the boss, you call the shots, and the new freedom is exhilarating.
2. Lifestyle. Creating a lifestyle for yourself that fulfils your needs and desires, enabling you to be professionally and personally fulfilled, has to be a good thing for you and all the family.
3. It’s fulfilling. Pursuing something you believe in and your passions in life create contentment and builds self-esteem and feeling of self-worth. These are magic ingredients that in turn help relationships thrive. It’s also great for role-modelling for your children, giving them the confidence that you can make positive life choices and that anything is possible.
4. It’s challenging. To be able to use all the skills you have and keep your brain ticking over.
5. Creatively you can call the shots. All you need is a good business idea, it doesn’t have to be something entirely new, just something that’s better. I didn’t invent soap, I just created an organic bar and brought it to the supermarket shelf where there was a gap. Once the brand was known we added to it liquid organic soap, foamer, bubble bath and now candles… every day is different.
6. Putting something back: Many entrepreneurs are driven by the need to build something great, help other people, or creating a legacy of something that will be around long after you’re gone.
7. Control. On top, of the freedom aspect (creatively/time wise and being your own boss) there is something to be said too for the sense of security that comes along with being in full control of your work.
8. It’s SO rewarding. When you’re successful, you reap the emotional rewards – financial too and it depends what drives you as to which you get the kick from the most. There’s no better feeling than seeing a product you’ve worked hard to develop on the shelves, the pain of new line forms, chasing non existent buyers, the admin hell of connecting EDI systems for ordering, the timelines, the packaging issues are all forgotten; then comes the feedback – when customers, strangers up and down the country write to say your product has made a difference in their lives. And of course, turning a profit and knowing your business is financially stable are extremely rewarding when you know you created it. From scratch. Often winging it, and at times scraping very close to rock bottom but keeping your eye on the bigger picture.
As far as I am aware, this rounded sense of fulfillment is difficult to duplicate in most other career paths…
So yes, starting your own business will mean more work, (even) less sleep, initially less pay (and play!), no company car or perks from being an employee and an unrivaled amount of instability with almost every odd against you in your quest for success… BUT, as scary as this sounds, creating Little Soap Company has been the best thing I have ever done, and Keira, Jules, Jenny and all my other women friends with kidlets agree the same. Creating your own business – just as I imagine bringing up your babies – will be the best, but also at times the hardest thing you may ever do…. But we recommend it hand on heart, it is absolutely worth it…
A Guest Blog from Emma Heathcote-James
Emma’s an expert in organic beauty, currently writing a book for a leading publisher. She’s won multiple awards, including being last years Entrepreneur of the Year at the H&W Chamber of Commerce and is currently shortlisted for the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards and also The Coventry Telegraph Entrepreneur of the Year categories too. She has spoken at Westminster regarding Women in the Workplace and at the EU in Brussels on the importance of Micro Enterprise and speaks regularly on being an entrepreneur or as she prefers too it living in the sticks, a ‘countrypreneur’.
Emma created the eco-savvy Little Soap Company because supermarkets didn’t offer more choice in terms of organic beauty, in fact in most cases ANY choice of pure, natural and organic soap on their shelves. Emma’s aim was to create a natural, organic, and sustainable soap to fill that gap and offer choice on the shelves with a free-from range of organic products. Passionate about reducing the amount of chemicals and synthetics people unwittingly rub into their skin and wanting to make a real noise in the cosmetics industry, Emma’s aim is to get the world back to basics, creating the purist organic soap she believes possible and making it affordable and accessible to everyone.
Available nationally in Waitrose, Booths, Tesco, Boots, Sainsbury and Wholefoods as well as online and in many independent outlets. Please do a quick shelf tidy and make lots of ohhhing and ahhhing noises Mamans when you spot her wares!