We had a very interesting discussion at a recent networking group. Our host was telling us how she had been incensed by this article in The Guardian (http://tinyurl.com/nc4o4l3) which to summarise undermines the efforts of so-called “Mumpreneurs” – people like me and so many of my friends, not to mention the host – only having set up a business because they’ve been forced out of the workplace after having children and therefore at a bit of a loose end.
After having my first son I was not allowed to return to my beloved job in the City, instead I was demoted and ultimately felt I had no alternative but to leave. After having my second son, I decided I would not to return to the corporate world at all and went off to be a stay-at-home mum, tail between my legs and really quite sad at the inevitability of it all.
Yes, I set up my virtual assistant business so that I could work around my children – but also because I face the exact same challenges that other small business owners face – whether they are male or female. The more local businesses I come into contact with, the more I see how many of them need that flexibility too. If you can create a successful business out of an actual client need then surely that should be applauded and not ridiculed.
During the discussion I gave the example of one of my clients. He is a local small business owner and married with young children. I hadn’t seen him for a while but when I caught up with him recently I was surprised (and pleased) to hear he’d reduced his crazy working hours and had turned down several large contracts as he felt he was working himself into the ground.
We shouldn’t have to apologise for creating family-friendly businesses around our home commitments, when the traditional workplace is decades away from providing the same.
The author herself admits to being “a bit of a patronising dick” about it all, but that is to be expected from our national media which demonises women of all social backgrounds, whether they’re working full time and put their children in nursery, don’t work and claim benefits and latterly, small business owners like me who are trying to create their own little place in the world of work.
My good friend Tracy summed it up perfectly; “Personally I am proud I am a 'mumpreneur'! The word itself I can take it or leave it. But I am proud I'm a mum! I am proud I have had the balls to start my own business! I am proud I have the balls to juggle both! And if trying to turn my passions and ideas into a business means I'm a 'mumpreneur' then bloody brilliant!” Cheers to that, Tracy!