Is there too much “mum” in your business?

February 8, 2019 tanyaaj No Comments

Is there too much “mum” in your business?

February 8, 2019 Tanya No Comments

The rise of the Mumtrepreneur and how mums in business might be sabotaging their own success.

Women are leaving the conventional workforce in droves. After fighting for decades for more equality, the right to keep working after marriage and kids, we’re realising there’s a new glass ceiling to conquer. Being the boss. Running your own business. 

What could be more equal than playing the same game, but on your own terms? It could be a dream, if only we didn’t sabotage ourselves along the way.  Sabotage? Me? Yes really.  In the same way you push your kids in front of you at family BBQ’s, and only talk about them and their achievements to take the focus off yourself, you’re doing the same in your business when you fall into the trap of the Mumtreprenuer.

It’s time to claim your power as a BUSINESS OWNER, and even the playing field without the divisive labels that diminish that power in business.

We didn’t come this far, to only come this far

Increasing numbers of millennial (and Xennial) women are reaching their hard-earnt career high, mid-level management level, and leave temporarily to have children. 

On realising that kids and careers are a bloody tough gig, they’re looking to start their own business – and are leading a small business revolution in the meantime.

Just like our grandmothers, aunts, and mothers before us, we’re forging new paths. But something is holding us back from fully conquering the world of business. The phenomenon of the Mumtrepreneur. Whether we are labelled by the media, or doing it to ourselves, we’re putting too much ‘mum’ in our businesses and it’s holding us back.

Like the diminutive feminine terms that have been abolished in the last few decades (waitress, policewoman, actress), we’ve moved on from ideas that men or women can only do certain jobs. So then why would we embrace a term that deliberately alienates childless women, that other parents (i.e. men) don’t use?

But I love being a Mumteprenuer

That’s great, and all power to you. This isn’t the article for you if you love the title and want to keep using it. However, if you’re open to seeing why I think it’s designed to diminish and divide us as women, then read on.

There are some genuine Mumtrepreneurs out there and I have a world of respect for them. The ones creating time and money saving systems and products from scratch, that change the lives of other mothers everywhere. The ones investing their hard-earned savings and the family house in a business venture and crossing their fingers it’ll pay off.   They can take the term Mumtreprenuer and empower themselves with positive media coverage and use it as a point of difference.

Obviously if you work exclusively in the mum/parenting space, you’re free to embrace your mummyness, toddler mishap tales and stretch marks to your heart’s content. Your audience is buying from you because you’re a mum, they relate to you, you’re in the trenches together. This is for all the other mums in business out there, treading the fine line between sanity and chaos as a mum in business, wondering how much ‘mum’ they need in their business.

Firstly, a little bit about me, and a few disclaimers. I have kids. Three of them. Lovely little things – the delight of my life. And I’m very proud of the people they are growing up to be. Yes, I started my business because of them.  Because caring for them left me with few other options. Being in a position where I had few other choices that offer the same flexibility and income meant taking risks I might not have otherwise contemplated. But I don’t define myself as a Mumtrepreneur.

If I’m not a Mumtreprenuer, then what am I?

This is not to say we should just dump the “Mum’ and call ourselves Entrepreneurs. As much as you might fit the dictionary definition for it, I think the term is overused, pretty cliched and taken over by Instagram sensations that think they’re the next big thing. 

Reality is, unless you’re sinking a lot of money, taking a lot of risk, or putting something out there that is genuinely unique, innovative or interesting, you’re not really an Entrepreneur.

If you’ve got an ABN, your business name is registered, you’ve got a website, some customers and you’re making money, you’re a business owner. And whether you’ve procreated or not has no effect on your ability to do business.

Imagine your business is a business, just like the one you used to go work for. What made people buy and come back for more? The personality of the owner, marketing, quality products and service. Nothing about their private life and family commitments.

Are we creating our own boxes or put in them by others?

The term Mumtrepreneur is a relatively recent one, spiking with the ease of working from home in the digital age. 

Its rise is undoubtedly due to a bunch of mums out there, finally finding a term that resonates with them, who they are and what they do that embrace the name with gusto. 

But, like the best of the insidious gaslighting techniques, it’s pushed upon us by the media and we’re made to feel that it was all our idea, and a celebration of who we are. While in reality, it subtly puts us down, divides us from our childless sisters in business, and plays us off against each other in the eternal mummying competition of who is busier, more stressed, more yummy mummy, and makes more money/has a better kitchen/only feeds their kids organic food.

It’s about taking back your power 

I don’t want to make this into a gender debate, but I think this is one time we need to think and act more like men to stop doing ourselves a disservice. Men in business define themselves by what they do (tradie, accountant, manufacturer) and their role (boss, CEO, owner, director).  They would rarely mention if they have children, and it certainly wouldn’t define their business.

You’ve worked hard to get where you are. You’ve put in the long hours post-bedtime, and early mornings. Yes, you may have done it all while raising a family, but don’t let them take credit for your successes. If you’re going to give yourself a label – make it one that speaks to you and your power – not your role for others – wife, mother, sister, daughter, employee. Whether this is Leader, Trail Blazer, Mover and Shaker, Breadwinner or CEO – chose something that truly lifts you up.

I’m all for claiming our power, but we can do this in other ways. When it comes to business, let’s keep it professional, inclusive and show off what makes us great to work with.

You know who’s great at this? Beyoncé. Yep, Queen B herself. I follow her on Instagram and admire her as a savvy business owner. Have a scroll back through her recent Instagram posts, and count how many pictures of her children are on there. Not many.  Less than two when I checked. And yet, she’s a mother of three. A wife. A sister. She just doesn’t go on about it, and doesn’t let it define her business, and makes it all (quite rightly) about her. 

Think of some other great female business leaders – Arianna Huffington, Naomi Simson, Sheryl Sandberg, Emma Isaacs. Do they have kids? Do you even know? They certainly aren’t letting their motherhood status stand in the way of standing out in business.

You’ve got a short amount of time to tell your story and sell your product or service to a potential customer. Is the fact that you’ve got kids the most important thing they need to know about you?

As women in business, we’ve got a whole stack of prejudices, injustices and obstacles up against our success. Having children is often the trigger for starting your business, and that’s admirable. But those same motivators can leave us playing small, less likely to take risks, step up and put ourselves out there. Maybe by taking the Mum out of our businesses, we can be a bit more executive in our thinking, and let our businesses, experience and service speak for themselves.

Over to you

Tell us your thoughts on the mumtrepeneur movement in the comments below and don’t forget to share this article with anyone who might find it interesting!

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