If you’re one of the millions of women who own a business and parent at the same time, you’re in great company. According to the sixth annual report from Womenable and American Express OPEN on the state of women-owned businesses in the U.S., mumpreneurs like you are doing amazing new things each year.
Between 2007 and 2016, while the total number of business across the US increased by 9%, the number of women-owned firms increased by 45%—a rate five times the national average. Women-owned businesses now also account for 30% of privately held companies in the US, and as a result should create more than 50 million new jobs nationwide by 2018. Although we are learning more and more about female founders, there’s still very little data available on women business owners with children under 18. So we stepped up…
To pay homage to these supreme go-getters, we polled mum entrepreneurs in search of their stories. Using the responses from over 500 inspirational mothers, we show the motivations, techniques as well as sacrifices made by today’s mum entrepreneur.
The mum entrepreneur
Who is she?
57% of mum entrepreneurs are 40 years or older. They’re almost all married (79%) and have a partner who also supports their family with income (95%). They usually have one or two kids as part of their family unit. And most strikingly, it’s mum who is still the primary childcare provider in the family—71% of our mum entrepreneur respondents are doing the lion’s share of childcare.
How does she do it?
How do our mum business owners achieve so much?
School starts, business starts
Typically mums start their business once their children reach school age, presumably because they have more time to focus on a business project and/or passion. The vast majority (80%) of our mum entrepreneurs started their business after having children. The average age of their first child when they took the leap into entrepreneurship? 6.
“Second shifts” are the norm
For business-minded moms, a “second shift”—shifting focus back to business once the bedtime duties are done—is par for the course with 39% of them stating that this is a regular habit or, at least, is something that they sometimes have to do to get things done (34%).
See ya later pilates class!
Our mum entrepreneurs are doing a lot, and so, naturally, some things make way for others. What is the first to go? Hobbies. 88% of our mum entrepreneur respondents told us that they now spend less than 3-4 hours per week on their hobbies. Exercise also gets sacrificed, with 67% of our mums explaining that they spend less time working out since starting their business. Lastly, it’s friends. 64% of our mums said that they see friends much less once they have kicked off their business venture.
With so much going on, mum entrepreneurs need to manage their priorities, and 44% of our survey respondents told us they “sometimes” feel guilty about entrepreneurship. But spending time with family is a distant third on the list of things they do less of since starting their venture; mum entrepreneurs may have to skip workouts and outings with friends, but they don’t scrimp on their family time.
Get the right support
The mums from our survey have found that getting the right support is key. 63% of them have a network of fellow entrepreneurs who they reach out to on a regular basis.
Try to find balance
Mum entrepreneurs are getting the sleep they require to keep up the pace with 63% of our community saying that they get 6-8 hours of sleep per night. Only 5% of our respondents are getting less than 5 hours per night. Work/life balance seems to be crucial for these power-women with 55% of them spending less than 8 hours a day on their business.
Why does she do it?
Unanimously “flexibility” was cited by our mum entrepreneurs as the #1 advantage of having their own business. It seems to be about finding the right balance as opposed to leaving a legacy with our respondents stating that they are unsure whether their children will (41%) or certain that their children will not (42%) eventually take over the business.
What seems to be clear to us, having taken a closer look into the world of mum entrepreneurs, is that actually they may not be who you think they are. There is still a stereotype of a long-suffering working mother, but this is not necessarily the case. Many admit to feeling guilty about entrepreneurship, but they also say that’s ok. They manage their time and their workload, and their sleep. They admit a few things have to be dropped to balance the needs of a family and a business. However, they never sacrifice their family time, and it seems that the option of becoming their own boss has allowed them the freedom of flexibility—perhaps something that’s less available in the more traditional corporate world. It’s an area that we feel needs more research and would love to put this theory to the test.
For more insights and inspiration from “the front line” you can check out these tips from twenty-three mumpreneurs.
Congrats to all you mum entrepreneurs for being both awesome mums and entrepreneurs—we admire you and are here to support you every step of the way!