Why Are All Mumpreneurs Inventors?

If you see mumpreneurs featured in the newspapers or on television, they will almost always be inventors. Usually, inventors of products for babies or children.

I have huge respect for these mums. Inventing a product and bringing it to market is a long process with no guarantee of success. Compared to other business options open to mums, this is the one that needs the biggest investment of money, takes the longest and has the highest risk. Add to that the facts that the mums rarely seem to have any experience in bringing a product to market and that they are working around children and you have some idea why I’m so impressed.

Oddly enough, this is why I’m disappointed that the only mumpreneurs you seem to hear about in the media are inventors. If you’re a mum with young children, crazy childcare costs and an inflexible job, you could easily think starting a business is not for you because you don’t have a product to invent. And that’s a shame, because there are many businesses that are much easier and faster to start, as well as needing a much less money to invest. Where are the virtual assistants, bookkeepers, pet sitters, community magazine editors, yoga teachers, beauty therapists, graphic designers, online store owners…(and many more, actually)?

If you’re a mum with young children, crazy childcare costs and an inflexible job, you could easily think starting a business is not for you because you don’t have a product to invent.

I’m far from alone. Jane Hopkins of MumsClub has spoken to ITV and The Mail about featuring mumpreneurs who aren’t inventors. Joanne Dewberry of www.charliemoos.co.uk and www.networkingmummies.com started a bit of campaign about exactly this issue. Joanne says:

Daybreak, ITV’s new morning programme, featured 5 mums on their website and also for a week on the show all under the name ‘mumpreneur’, but these 5 women all had something else in common not just a business and children … they were all inventors. Is this a fair portrayal of ‘business mums’?

Firstly I posted the question on my Facebook page and as predicted the ‘non-inventors’ (and there’s a lot of them) weren’t impressed.  It got me thinking even more so I sat down and wrote a very long detailed email about myself, my business, and the many varieties of mumpreneurs out there.  Their reply consisted of about 10 words and ended in ‘thank you’.  I proceeded with my mini campaign, posting my email and Daybreaks reply on my blog. I was pleased that so many people took the time to give their feedback and not just business mums.  After a few days I emailed the link over to Daybreak and well a few weeks later and I’ve had no reply.

Firstly my issue wasn’t that I hadn’t been featured far from that.  I am really pleased for those that were. I feel it should not have been labelled ‘mumpreneurs’.  Not many mums sat at home on maternity leave would think ‘ooo that’s for me! I can leave my job be a full time mum and invent a product to regulate my income!’.

Why not have a week featuring……

Victoria Dixon mum of 2, creator of www.enhance-me.com she takes an image of your child and turns it into a beautiful fairytale creation.  Or Rachel Jeffries mum of 2, who runs online wooden toy shop www.totsandtiddlerstoys.com both of these businesses are online and enable the mumpreneur to work hours to suit her.  If she needs to be working late at night or early in the morning so she can spend the day helping at her child’s school or taking them to the park, she can.

Lisa Carpenter, mum of 1,  runs www.mobilecarsolutions.co.uk with her husband, offering a wide range of products & services for individuals & companies ranging from a hands free kit for your iphone that streams your music to a tracking solution so you know where your vehicles are 24/7.  Not really a girly business but not only providing flexibility for childcare but also working alongside her husband.

Or maybe a new start up business? Ama Aqua making beautiful bespoke polymerclay cake toppers (http://www.facebook.com/bespokeclaycaketoppers )and using social media to market and network while she establishes herself. Sarah Philips, is definitely one to watch.

Business ideas born from the desire to be a full time mum yet earn money

Or possibly end the week on Olga Taylor, brains behind www.weddingvipcard.com a privilege card for couples getting married in Dorset, by teaming up with a number of premium quality suppliers to offer exclusive discounts and special offers in the leading up to your wedding day.

These case studies would definitely display to mums that self-employment isn’t beyond their reach.  Uncomplicated business ideas born from the desire to be a full time mum but yet earn money and have the flexibility and freedom needed to do this.”

(You can read Joanne’s email to Daybreak, their reply and the responses of many mums in business and even a few who aren’t on her blog)

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts – drop me a message and let me know what you think.

Joanne Dewberry runs Charlie Moo’s (www.charliemoos.co.uk – party bags, gifts and toys) from her home in rural Dorset, where she lives with her partner and their two children Megan 2 and Charlie 3. She is also co-owner of  Networking Mummies (www.networkingmummies.com) with Laura Morris (www.rentabuggy.co.uk)

If you would like to spend more time with your children and earn an income, take a look at my book Start a Family Friendly Business: 129 Brilliant Business Ideas for Mums

Comments

  1. Hi Helen

    I can understand why people are annoyed but the Daybreak feature came about simply because one of the mums featured approached them and pitched it to them. Ok, maybe it should have been called Mum Inventors rather than Mumpreneurs but its not like they did a search for Mumpreneurs and chose to feature inventors only. The inventors found them! Given this, I can understand their really short reply to the email, it possibly would have been more successful to pitch them another five mumpreneurs with service related businesses. Maybe send them the details of the mumpreneurs featured above, they all sound fab?

    Louise

  2. Hi Louise, thanks for leaving a comment. I guess that if someone is getting more publicity than you that probably means they are also doing more(or more effective) promotional activity than you are! I think Jane Hopkins has made some progress in getting a broader range of mumpreneurs on TV and in the papers for next year, so we’ll see what happens.

  3. I totally agree with what Joanne Dewberry had to say. It’s frustrating that mumpreneurs are often only presented in this light. Joanne is an inspirational business woman who not only is Dorset Business Mum of the Year, runs her own business Charlie Moos, and has appeared on radio programmes etc but actively helps others create their own business opportunities. I would have love to have seen people like her on the programme as well. This is not to say anything against the women who were featured; I acknowledge their hard work and dedication. However, mums are diverse are everyone else out there.

  4. this is such a good point! and now that i think of it, it is kind of irritating. not to take away from the awesomeness of those mummy inventors out there, but there are so many types of service, goods, and information products that are wonderfully sold both online and in person by brilliant mums all over the world and so many opportunities for mums to create their own little biz for themselves that it is a shame they they don’t get more recognition.

    invent:
    1. To produce or contrive (something previously unknown) by the use of ingenuity or imagination.

    by the very act of building a little business for ourselves, i would say all of us are indeed inventors. =)

  5. Thanks for your feedback … I still believe the real issue is that we are sat daily being bombarded by news about how to cut the deficit the UK is in. Mums wanting to be at home full time with their children and not have to survive on state handouts to top up a husbands income (if they aren’t lucky enough to have a well paid husband) would not see inventing a product as a career move for them. I maintain the belief that a ‘mumpreneur’ should have been portrayed by mums who’s chosen business can be easily replicated and inspire other mums to push forward.

    Louise .. aren’t you an inventor?? This post is by no means a dig at inventors. I also wasn’t trying to pitch to Daybreak I was trying to show a misrepresentation had been made.

    Although I am a big advocate for mums in business .. I don’t actually use this in my PR. Maybe I should 😉

    • Good point Joanne, the Government are making radical changes to the benefits system – let’s hope they balance that with providing support for small enterprise.

    • I would say that you are an inventor too Joanne, certainly looking at the definition from the dictionary above. Not all products require a huge investment to start up, textile products in particular can be invented and produced quite cheaply if you are good at sewing or can find a small UK factory to do it (mine is probably not a good example as there was loads of expensive safety testing required) Mamascarf, Snugbaby and Totseat (who was featured on Daybreak) are all examples of businesses who started off small and grew bigger gradually.

  6. I fear you may have fallen into a similar trap. You asked where are all the virtual assistants, bookkeepers, pet sitters, community magazine editors, yoga teachers, beauty therapists, graphic designers, online store owners. However, you then provided a list of people who sell tangible products rather than people such as myself (I’m a HypnoBirthing Practitioner and Life Coach) who provide a service.
    Ultimately it is down to what makes good ‘copy’ and the type of person who is able to push themselves forward.

    • Thanks for leaving a comment, Helen. The list of service businesses was mine, the list of people who sell tangible products was Joanne’s. I hoped that together we provided a range of business examples. Plus I believe Joanne’s debate is inventors vs everyone else rather than product suppliers vs service suppliers (although I’m she’ll be back to give us her view on that!)

      I’m a big supporter of small service businesses as they are often cheaper, faster and less risky to set up (no stock, lower investment needed). However there also tends to be a lot of competition for the same reasons. Perhaps that’s a factor in why they don’t stand out as much as the product-based businesses. Although I agree that marketing and PR have to be the biggest factors of all.

      • I think you have got it in a nutshell Helen, the more unusual a story is, the more likely it is to be featured in the media. And the better the person is at marketing/PR of course. Its good to see people like Jane Hopkins in the media on behalf of all the smaller businesses.

  7. I don’t feel I have fallen into a similar trap .. most the businesses I work with via Networking Mummies (which is a service) are services. I work with many life coaches, business coaches, book keepers and fitness instructors and if you read my original post (which is on my service provider blog) http://www.joannedewberry.co.uk/networkingmummies/mumprenuers-in-the-media-missed-opportunities-or-just-not-sexy-enough/ I mention service providers there. The 5 day list was made via my Fanpage … I have so many amazing mumprenuers around me I couldn’t choose who to mention so I said the first 5 people to comment would be used and those were the first 5. I’m sure for many people new businesses, such as Ama Aqua have come to their attention, that they may not have been aware of. I didn’t chose the 5 sexist or most newsworthy simply the first 5 people to comment! Sadly service providers weren’t quick enough – although Wedding VIP can be argued to be a service provider!!
    Hope this sheds some light 🙂
    And if you ever want to feature on my blog shout!

  8. I think it is really good to see anyone championing mums setting up businesses. For me, my business Cardiff Invitations (www.cardiffinvitations.co.uk) gives me the opportunity to look after my one year old whilst still contributing to the finances.

    I also agree that if you want coverage/promotion – you have to put the effort in and be proactive. Otherwise someone else will! Goes back to the old saying – you snooze, you lose!

  9. A great read. I’ve always shyed away from a lot of things as I do feel less worthy as a reseller rather than someone who is talented enough to make and sell their own products/services, but I do like my ‘mumpreneur’ title though.

    • Thanks Lisa, and never feel less worthy as a reseller – running any kind of business takes a lot of effort, determination and resilience. I think that every bit of effort you don’t spend on creating a product will get spent on sourcing, sales, marketing and customer service, which are sometimes seen as the easier bits. But anyone who has tried selling on-line will realise they are anything but!

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