Despite the rumour mill of social history, women have played an important economic role throughout many different eras. During the twentieth century there was a tendency for many women to tow the line and stay home bringing up baby but prior to this the story was a bit more complicated.
Believe it or not, women in the workplace, working for themselves or even working in trades or professions was not unheard of. Yes, privileged, wealthy women stayed at home embroidering in between fainting fits; however, terms like “Charlady” and “Fishwife” have left us a clue as to what the rest of the female population got up to. That would be working then! Today, with a few social changes under our corsets, women are out and about in the workplace, and of course, doing it for themselves.
The “Mumpreneur” is not as new as we might think, but technology has played its part and turned the stay-at-home-business-mum less of a phenomenon and more of a common feature of everyday business life. So for those about to travel down this surprisingly well trodden path, what do you need to know?
Tools, Help and Advice
Money makes the world go round
Money makes the world go round, but finding a few shiny coins to get your business started is no easy thing. For those out of the world of work, money is not easy to come by and even for mums who combine that role with a part time job, having anything left over to start up can seem impossible. Contact your local branch, enterprise board or Busines Link for a whole range of advice and possible sources of financial help, to get your proposal off the ground. Some of the services will be free or heavily discounted. Also check out what’s on offer from the Women in Business network; there’s a clue in the name as to this organisations focus and the range of help, support and training available through the organisation is impressive.
A good plan
Business enterprises need planning whatever their size. Both of the above sites will help you to evaluate your idea and refine your business plan. Some ideas will need more planning than others, but it’s worth making sure you have some advice at this stage. A good business plan can help to turn the phrase “computer says no” into the exact opposite, when you’re trying to find some funding for your business from a bank.
Most women are no strangers to effective time management (also known as juggling a range of commitments). When you run your own business time management becomes an even more refined art form. One crucial factor for “mumpreneurs”, at the outset, is to consider what their priorities are. The main driver for this type of business is often to be able to bring in some extra cash, but still have time to bring up the kids; you’ll need to balance these competing factors. If you intend the business to become a serious earner you’ll have to devote more time to the business than to the family; getting this balance right from the start is crucial, not only for the success of your business, but for your sanity.
As a “mumpreneur” you will not be alone. Thanks to the wonderful world of the web, there are a host of ways to find help and support from others in the same position, both in the UK and across the globe. Mumsclub.co.uk is a site designed for working parents and you’ll find a range of links to other parents in the same circumstances as your own. These can be invaluable resources for those new to the way of life.
From Caterina van Hemessen to Florence Nightingale, or to modern entrepreneurs like Arianna Huffington, sisters have been doing it for themselves for a little longer than some historians would like us to believe. For those starting out on the road to business success, with a toddler or two in tow, learning to juggle a few extra plates can help to create your own place in history.