Mum's the Word

A month ago it was a term we had only heard once or twice. Since then it is everywhere. Like it or not, ‘Mumpreneur’ is the word.

The concept of mums who decide to develop a new business has been trending into all sorts of business and social discussions. But don’t worry if this is the first time you have heard the term; mumpreneur was only been listed in the Collins Dictionary since 2011.

According to Fiona Lewis founder of Ausmumpreneurs Online, a mumpreneur is: “A woman who starts a business to follow a vision, to make money, and to be the master of her own soul in a way that will allow her to fulfil her role as a parent in a way that she desires”. Business woman and ‘business coach for the brave’, Maureen Pound believes “there’s a lot of polarisation around whether the term mumpreneur is patronising or empowering, but also concedes “that people in Australia still don’t like the word entrepreneur”.

Fertile conditions

Without knowing the term, it turns out over the years we have worked with several women with ideas and determination (mumpreneurs) and helped them develop their idea through the critical design stage. But recently the numbers have begun to rise, and it’s interesting to note some of the likely reasons that have combined to suit these new entrants into the world of new product development:

Smart. Many mums are very clever, and had successful professional careers before children. Like anyone, mums don’t stop being smart when children come along!

Opportunity. Being smart is a given, but mum’s are faced with a new world of needs, challenges and products that babies and children blissfully generate. And mum’s generally have time to think about these and use their smarts to think about ‘what if’. The old proverb ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ should be updated with ‘…and mumpreneurs are the people that will do the inventing’

Work/Life Balance. Increasingly we are all becoming aware of building balance into our lives, and having children just reinforces this. Unlike re-entering the work force in a regular job, creating a business around your interests and circumstances offers lots of flexibility and the ability to scale-up or down to achieve the right work/life balance.

The Age of Open Manufacturing. The world has seen a transformation in the notion and availability of manufacturing. Manufacturing especially from emerging economies like China, and aided by CAD related technologies and digital communications means that never before has it been as accessible and affordable for local newcomers to get products made. This change creates a perfect place for mumpreneurs to flourish.

Success stories

Our experience with mumpreneurs has included many ideas around baby’s needs. Some of these are new, whilst others are born from the frustration that  existing products don’t do what they should.

But mumpreneurs should not and do not confine themselves to the immediate world of being a mum. One of our most successful entrepreneurs is the co-founder of KeepCup, Abigail Forsyth. It took becoming a mum and taking time out on maternity leave to force Abigail to rethink her career. “It was that compulsory pause that gave me the courage to do KeepCup” Abigail said in a recent interview with Map Magazine.

Our five secrets for successful mumpreneurship

  • Think global. Research the state of the art wherever it is in the world, so you can leapfrog this. Even if your idea is all about local markets, aiming to be the best in the world in your way is the place to start.
  • Work with excellent local experts to develop the brand, product design and engineering, as well as intellectual property and licencing strategies. Form trust-based relationships and then consider their advice.
  • Be open minded to manufacturing options including using local and overseas suppliers and supply chains.
  • Remember the product idea is only one link in a longer chain. To build a sound business around a product it takes most elements to be functional and aligned. This includes financial, marketing, sales, distribution and legal. Don’t let this overwhelm you, but don’t ignore it either.
  • Utilise any local grants that governments have from time to time to encourage new business. Even if these are not in themselves great amounts, the intangibles of applying can really give your idea and business a kickstart in seed funding, publicity, contacts, information or access to other services. (Cobalt is a registered provider to one such scheme in Victoria, Australia, see link)Whether you like the term or not (BTW we are not sold on it, it’s too hard to spell!) ‘mumpreneurs’ are here to stay and we can only see more amazing products and businesses from this space happening into the future.