“Oh you’re a mum? And you run a business?”
This conversation makes me want to heave. I despise being called a mumpreneur. Sadly, it is become a much more widely used word, much to my utter distaste.
How did it all begin?
First, I shall cover its origin story, it’s a long… no, its not. It’s the merging (aka smashing) together of the word mum (that word that gets shouted at you no less than 35 times a day) and the word entrepreneur. Apparently just calling women who have both had children and run a business, an entrepreneur was just too complicated.
Now I hear the naysayers – what’s wrong with the word? Why don’t you like a word that is essentially celebrating the fact you can juggle both children and be a business owner? And in the age where women are told repeatedly that we can have it all, I can see why some people like the term. Now I will add that I completely defend anyone’s right to use the word mumpreneur. If you feel that it empowers or liberates you then I for one am happy. However, it’s just not my thing and lets not beat around the bush- its as sexist as shit.
“Aww your own business! You must love the flexibility for the school run!”
To me my career accomplishments and my amazing mothering abilities are not connected. I would be a fabulous mother (note) regardless of my business status and vice versa. I might be more adept at working on less hours of quality sleep than most but being a mother really has no impact on how I run my business. Had I not have had my darling children, who admittedly sometimes make me shout swear words into my hands so that they can’t hear, I would still be as driven as I am now. I would still be me.
Mumpreneur to me evokes this deep-rooted feeling that by labelling myself as one I am somehow less of an entrepreneur. It’s akin to dumbing myself down, as if my business was borne out of a need to make “pin money” and not built on blood, sweat, tears and lots of swear words. It implies that women who are mothers and business owners are running a hobby, and not a company. Something to help top up our family’s income and to keep us busy in-between washing dishes and making clothes out of curtains.
The word to me, represents a cheapening of my efforts and talents. The word, whether intended to or not, belittles and patronises women in business. It marginalises women in business and reduces their success to that of a little hobby that we can do in the evening or around nap times and cranky toddlers.
Often the next question after “Aww you’re a mumpreneur” is “So is it your husband’s business?”
Should we be apologetic for wanting to be more than mothers?
Oh, we are getting heavy here. But is this the crux of the issue? Are mothers viewed by society as delicate, fluffy, loving beings who aren’t cut out for the cut throat world of business? By adding the mum to entrepreneur are we creating a cuter, more acceptable version of the stereotypical business woman? Note how the word has been formed, its mum first and entrepreneur second. Women must first act out their role of being a mother and then being a businesswoman is second. It’s the lesser of the two roles. It puts the emphasise on the fact that mothers must play that societal role first and foremost and not have desires out with its demands.
When I visualise a mumpreneur I think – homely, kind and gentle. I don’t see an organised, driven, strategic person with an amazing business. It harbours connotations of “playing at running a business” and only really committing to their business once the children have been safely tucked up in bed.
Are we then saying that we as a society are uncomfortable with the thought that you can want to be career focused rather than staying at home with your children? Is it really so taboo that in 2018 we are not happy to accept that some women don’t want to define themselves as just a mother?
I, myself have had more than my fair share of comments regarding how quickly I chose to go back to work after having had my children. Note- this isn’t a stay at home mum vs working mum article, they are equally important, and the choice should be completely free of judgments. When the comments became more than irritating and frequent I just began simply not mentioning that I had children. It was easier than facing a barrage of looks and unwarranted critiques on how to run my life.
The word mumpreneur is creating a barrier to business for women, as if there wasn’t a huge one in place already. The word embodies the idea that mumpreneurs are running a half-assed business, one that shouldn’t be taken seriously by customers and their peers alike.
The fact the Daily Fail uses it in almost every female business owner type article furthers my point.
Dadpreneur or CEO?
This brings us nicely onto the non-word that is Dadpreneuer. I’ve heard it bandied around maybe a handful of times, it is certainly not used as frequently as its female counterpart. Perhaps society accepts that men can be fathers and in business simultaneously (what a concept!). When was the last time you heard Richard Branson, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates referred to by their parenting status?
The vast majority of men that I have worked with or network have not introduced themselves as parents nor used the term dadpreneur and yet I know that many of them are indeed fathers.
The fact is that men in business are taken at face value. They are just business owners, and we see no need to add the fact that they have created small mini versions of themselves because it is assumed that they are not the primary care givers. That must be their wife’s job.
The only one?
Perhaps I’m alone in my hate of the word. I’m not the kind of woman to constantly talk about my children for one. I don’t feel the need to say I am a working mother for instance, and prior to starting my own business I wouldn’t volunteer the fact I had children at work unless specifically asked. Frankly sometimes I forget their names, shouting darling at them as they run past seems to work well. There are many, many facets to my personality and being a mother is truly only a small, yet extremely important part of me. Yet it doesn’t define me. My hope is that the word becomes obsolete and we no longer segregate entrepreneurs and business owners based on their gender and parenting status.
So let’s stop the mumpreneur bullshit and start calling ourselves and others just plain old entrepreneurs.
1. By fabulous mother I mean, one who is “resting her eyes for 5 minutes” whilst I let three small girls clamber on top of me , and repeatedly shouts the phrase “ they will have great immune systems!” when one inevitably eats dirt.