Carrie Kwan from Mums & Co talks about today’s mums in business, and the importance of getting more mums running businesses…
I remember launching my first business, Daily Addict, on 15 January 2008… with the click of a button, I sent out our very first digital newsletter from my apartment living room. The digital lifestyle guide was born out of a burning desire without an off switch. I also knew that at some stage in my life I wanted a family, and that having a successful business was going to give me the flexibility to continue my career, while raising a family. Fast forward to my second business Mums & Co, I have invaluable knowledge that came from my experience with Daily Addict, but running a business and raising a family at the same time comes with a whole new set of challenges.
Working at 5am, 11pm or any snatches of time you can get in-between your parenting duties, dealing with lack of sleep or bouts of child sickness, working out child care while you attend the face-to-face meetings, school drop offs and pick-ups, to having only a few minutes to look groomed and professional before running out the door, are just some of the additional relentless realities in addition to being a business owner. On top of it, going into business means leaving security behind and it’s more daunting when you have a family to support – yet this is what 345,000 Australian business owner mothers are doing.
Women should not have to choose between their career and having children. Being self-employed is an option that women are turning to that allows them to advance their ambitions, while having the flexibility around their kids. We believe the numbers of mum business owners will increase as women face rising childcare costs, workplace inflexibility and unequal pay. The trend toward the gig economy has begun, and technology makes it easier than ever before to launch a business. When I launched Daily Addict almost a decade ago, I spent about $10,000 on building a custom website – these days you can have a website for as little as a few hundred dollars and in a lot less time.
Mums in business contribute significantly to our economy and community – they are our hidden workforce. They can be an entrepreneur, running a family business or a self-employed consultant. They represent one sixth of all small businesses and provide income for over half a million Australians. Mums & Co commissioned leading research firm EY Sweeney to produce the Australian Mums in Business Report (infographic), based on a survey of mums who own (or are considering starting) their own business, because we wanted to understand business mums better in order to support them more effectively.
We learnt that today’s mums in business are taking back control of what’s important to them: having flexibility and being their own boss are the primary drivers for women starting businesses. They’re brave – they show the true-blue Aussie spirit of having a go. Half of business mums started their own business as working for someone else was not viable, and half of them are launching businesses in fields where they have previously never worked in.
They have a greater sense of wellbeing – four in five believe they are a happier person as a result of starting their own business. Business mums are increasingly turning online to social media and networking groups to get the support they need – for community connections as well as information and talent sourcing.
What surprised us was that while most mums experience a sense of ‘mummy guilt’, the majority of business mums do not agree that they feel guilty that they have less time to spend with their children. In fact, an overwhelming 87% believe they are setting a good example for their kids.
The journey isn’t always easy – almost half believe being a mum has acted as a barrier to their business success and 50% found starting a business really challenging. Most don’t have financial support from others, and over half are using their own savings, or have taken a loan, to fund the business. The report shows that financial concerns – costs associated with setup and access to capital – as well as not knowing the fundamentals of business are major barriers stopping those who want to start a business.
As running their own business becomes the viable option for women to earn income and manage childcare duties, more needs to be done to help those looking to make the leap. Inspired by the proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child”, I sought to establish an online village (Mums & Co) where mums can pool their collective smarts and negotiating power and tap into the resources necessary for success in a family-friendly business. Armed with insights from our new report, I hope more women will be emboldened to seek success in their own business.
About the author
Carrie Kwan is the founder of Daily Addict and, with backing from IAG, she co-founded Mums & Co in 2016. Membership membership-based service offers businessmums online content as well as access to a range of services to help them grow their businesses, including emergency childcare, HR and legal support, and business insurance for home offices. Membership is free.