Love or hate the term, having children has inspired a new generation of mums to start their own businesses. We explore the phenomenon of the parent entrepreneur.
In recent years, a combination of rising childcare costs and the desire to spend more time with their children has started off a new trend amongst parents, in particular mothers, to set up their own businesses.
‘Making Mumpreneurs’ is an online community designed to support and empower mums running their own business. Founder Erin Thomas Wong formerly worked in TV production, but once her son was born, Erin set up a number of businesses from home; including Ealing Mums in Business and Pitter Patter Hub, a hub for parents and carers with young children and babies.
She was awarded a Mumpreneur UK Top 100 award in 2015, but moved to Abu Dhabi, where the idea of Making Mumpreneurs was born. Erin says that; “I launched Making Mumpreneurs because I wanted to create a global online community to connect mums in business and help to support them on their entrepreneurial journey.
“The internet makes starting a business around family life possible. Being able to work from anywhere, at any time, gives parents the flexibility they desire. For me, having an online business means that I can reach more mumpreneurs and support them with masterclasses, expert advice, support and camaraderie all from the comfort of their own home with my Cocoon member club. This is ideal if you are looking after children and can't get out to networking events.”
Louise Williams is a Cheltenham, UK based blogger who blogs and vlogs as PinkPearBear. Louise started helping out in her dad’s office when she was a child. A lifelong love of writing inspired her to set up PinkPearBear.
“I am not sure that I could work for someone else now. I have worked for people in the past and done anything from shop work to chambermaid but I enjoy the flexibility of being my own boss too much. If my children are ill, I can go and pick them up, if I want to go on holiday, I can take my laptop and camera and set up my office there. I do however envy people that can leave work. It's incredibly rare that I switch off and I'm often working until 10pm or later after the kids have gone to bed.”
Ana Billingham is also based in Cheltenham, and set up her business Bounding Hounds, walking dogs; “I was made redundant very unexpectedly. We were in the fortunate position that we could just about manage on my husband’s income, it was “no frills” but it afforded me the time to really think about whether I just wanted to jump into another office job or actually take the opportunity to do something different. I started thinking about the sort of thing I could do that would work around the school run and kept coming back to dog walking as a business. It is great being able to choose the times I work, the holidays I want to take and not having to answer to anyone else.”
Advice to other parents
Our mumpreneurs offered this advice to other parents thinking of starting a business:
Ana Billingham: “It’s a great thing to do, it is hard work without question but also very rewarding when you see your business succeed. Be realistic about the time that you can invest in it, the money that it is going to generate for you, and most importantly I think, will you enjoy doing it? It is hard work running your own business and if it’s something that you don’t enjoy doing then I don’t think you will succeed in it.”
Louise Williams: “Please be aware that blogging, (and any new business) is hard work. Initially you need to put in long, long hours with almost no pay off. I would never want to put people off though, as now that I have laid all those foundations, I am doing very well and the experiences alone that blogging has given my family and I are just wonderful. I have to shake my head in amazement sometimes when I remind myself that I started with nothing, just a laptop and a love of writing that wouldn't be contained!”
Erin Thomas Wong; “You are not alone - there is a huge community of parents trying to achieve the right balance by becoming their own boss. Actively surround yourself with like-minded entrepreneurial people who can motivate and inspire you when times are tough.”