Mumpreneurs My Arse.

Today I have received three different emails, from three different sources, all along the same theme.

And all three had me grinding my teeth in an attractive snarly fashion.

The first?

“Staples® UK is today launching their search to find the ‘Mumpreneur of the Year’ in partnership with Netmums.”

The second, which landed just a few minutes later?

“Nectar Business… recently held their Small Business Awards and I have a great Mummy success story regarding [name of company removed] who were highly commended for Innovation at this year’s awards. [Same Company] is a great inspiration, proving that creativity and drive are a the perfect recipe for a MUMtrepreneur.”

And hot on their heels, what did the third mail announce?

“The Mumpreneur Q&A – As featured at The Baby Show”

I feel the frustrated tension headache spreading just from re-writing that.

Please.
These mails are all from usually-well-respected brands and PR’s.

WHY do you insist on using the ‘mumpreneur’ (or, even worse, the ‘mumtrepreneur… *gags attractively*) label?

*clutches hair and looks to the sky*

“WHY-Y-Y-Y?”

Just take a step back and think for a second. Why is there no corresponding male term? No ‘dadpreneur’ awards for the little man at home, looking after the babes and popping on to the computer when he can  manage it (bless him)?

It’s simple – because men generally understand that a person’s gender has nothing at all to do with their ability to set up and run a business. If a man runs a business from home, then there is no question when a friend or associate describes him. They’ll simply say he’s self employed. Or runs his own company. Or, if appropriate, is an entrepreneur.

But wait – this is no militant we’re-as-good-as-the-boys feminism at work here.
Oh no – it’s FAR more important than that.

Because by using the term ‘mumpreneur’ you’re  actually creating a label. And it’s a label that has consequences – professionally harmful consequences.

No one I know sets up a business ‘just for something to do’. Yes, it may have to fit around the family – but what working parent doesn’t have to? We don’t call a female lawyer who returns to work part time a ‘mumpreneur’ do we? No. But how is what she does with her working day any different to the rest of us? Fitting work and family together, trying, striving, for that delicate balance.

So if we market ourselves as ‘mumpreneurs’, what does that tell people?
What is that label we have embraced as oh-so-perfectly-descriptive just told everyone who reads it?
Does it say to everyone

‘I am a professional, good at what I do, and I am to be respected in my business.’

No.
It does not.
Instead, it does the reverse.
It labels that business as very small. It shouts that the business is being run on a part time as-and-when-the-children-allow basis. The ‘mumpreneur’ in question is a sole trader, probably; with no ambition or intention of expanding and growing their business.
It announces a division of priorities, in a very negative fashion.
Every working parent has split priorities – we don’t need to shout this in the business description, do we?

Let’s go further – the scarily fab Sally Whittle not only runs her own business (the largest blogging index in the UK, with an audience of 10 million, I might add), but she’s a Single Parent too. *gasp* Well, surely, being a single parent is just as relevant – after all, she’s got even more time committed to her child and less to her business. So that makes her a  Slumpreneur, yes?
(HA! I just actually definitely just made that word up – I googled to make sure I hadn’t called her something rude, and Google has not ONE reference to it. Bonus!)

When I questioned Staples  and Netmums on Twitter about their use of ‘mumpreneur’, Netmums remains mysteriously silent, and Staples replied thus:

mumpreneurs empower my arse.

*sighs* No. Wrong.
The mumpreneur label does not ‘empower‘ women.
It  creates a barrier to their business.
Rightly or wrongly, the business community at large simply does not take ‘mumpreneurs’ seriously. And it’s not like anyone needs extra barriers to climb when trying to make a success of their company, gain funding or land a contract.

It’s a real shame, as a lot of these competitions and awards are excellent – but I, and many others like me, refuse to enter them out of sheer principle. Follow Nectar’s lead and make them about ‘Small Business Awards’. If a ‘mumpreneur’ can’t stand on her own two business feet against the rest of the community, then should she have a special category all for her? Of course she shouldn’t.

One American report I read stated that ‘some women have reported instances of being charged higher interest rates on borrowing because they have been labelled as Mumpreneurs, and therefore are perceived as less serious about business and a higher credit risk’.

Even those of us who have never labelled ourselves as such still suffer the same patronising label.
LittleStuff has been a Limited Company since 2004. It is a full time occupation which pays my mortgage and keeps my family fed. Yet I am, heaven forbid, a mother, and I work from home; naturally I must be a ‘mumpreneur’. Bless.

 

Author: Laura

A 70's child, I’ve been married for a Very Long Time, and appear to have made four children, and collected one large and useless dog along the way. I work, I have four children, I have a dog… ergo, I do not do dusting or ironing. I began LittleStuff back in (gulp) 2004. I like huge mugs of tea. And Coffee. And Cake. And a steaming cone of crispy fresh fluffy chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. #healthyeater When I grow up I am going to be quietly graceful, organised and wear lipstick every day. In the meantime I *may* have a slight butterfly-brain issue.

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59 Comments

  1. What a fabulous articulated rant. Thank you for crystallizing my thoughts on the issue. Sharing this everywhere.

    Post a Reply
    • Thank you Jax – I was pretty sure I wasn’t alone…

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  2. couldn’t agree any less with this article, i think in your haste to chastise you have missed the point entirely, they’re not reaching out to everyone, nor are they labelling people.
    They want to reach a key demographic, the stay at home mum who also wants to work and make something of themselves, not the “educated woman” as you ranted earlier, hence the term “mumpraneur”.

    As their target audience is “stay at home work mom”(very american :P) they dont want to reach to stay at home dad, otherwise they would have used a different title, nor do they want to reach the working mum who DOES have time to leave home.

    sometimes, i think you moan just for the sake of moaning.

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    • So Chris

      Can you tell the difference between a stay at home mum and a mum who satys at home and works. And indeed why should there be any difference…there should be no label put on these hard working women at all. Moaning for the sake of moaning, I hardly think so!! I would go back and read again and understand that ALL women who work/ run their own business/ or just look after the home…deserve respect…not a wee tagging of their ‘aah bless em didn’t she do well’ abilities
      Oh by the way..I’m a bloke..I run my own company…I often work from hokme and I have done the whole run the house full time Dad thing…if anyone had called me a Dadprenuer I’d have knocked his block off.
      Time to hide methinks…you may have opened a can of very unwanted worms!

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  3. Bloody fabulous blog post I agree with every single word. The ‘mumpreneur’ tag is so deeply patronising that it makes me heave and if someone labelled me as this I would be outraged. If I start a business it has absolutely sod all to do with my status as a mother yet has everything to do with my making a living from what I am good at. Reducing my professional abilities to the sum of my uterine parts is utterly abhorrent. I am, to be technical about this, pissing livid.

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    • Thank you Kraken – “Reducing my professional abilities to the sum of my uterine parts” may just be my new favourite quote.

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  4. Amen to that! I never used to be that bothered about it until my ambition grew bigger and I started despising the term. Like you say rightly so no one calls a self employed dad a Dadpreneurand and why?

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    • it’s funny how quickly you learn how limiting a label it is, isn’t it?

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  5. Great blog, so completely agree with you!

    I’ve spent my career in marketing so when I started my first business in 2004 (www.chickenegg.co.uk) it was before my son came along so I was just a businesswoman (yay!)

    Then Max arrived, I launched Be Fabulous as a second business and lo and behold I’m now no longer a businesswoman, but a Mumpreneur!

    I’d really, really, really just like be known as a businesswoman – but this title seems to have taken over somewhat and I thought I was in the minority of those who just can’t stand it. So thank you, thank you, for airing everything that I’ve felt for the past few years.

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    • Oh, god, you got my hackles rising all over again!
      So clearly, with the birth of your child, your business credentials simply packed up and left, yes? *eyeroll*

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  6. Oh thank God!

    I thought exactly the same (albeit less articulately) but was wary of saying anything, what with being a stay at home mother with a willy (sorry).

    It’s patronising at best when there’s already a word in the dictionary for it … entrepreneur.

    Mark.

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  7. Great blog.

    I dunno though… I think I kind of like a term that shows that I’m not just working, I’m not just running a business – I’m doing that around being a mum which is already a full time, massive job. I kind of read it as a mark of respect and a recognition of just how many things are on the plates of those who choose to be at home raising their children and start a business as well. Might just be in an overly positive frame of mind though and overestimating those who use the term! I quite like my interpretation of it though so I’ll keep being naive.

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    • but… do you think what you’re doing is any different from any other working mother? And do you REALLY want ‘special consideration’ for that in your workplace?
      No one’s saying you have to hide the fact that you’re juggling your family, after all.

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      • No, I don’t think what I am doing is any different from any working mother.

        I’m a mumpreneur and they’re ‘working mothers’ (actually I’m both as I’m p/t employed too!). Both are terms that signify we’re juggling work and motherhood. I like that there’s some recognition in both those terms for the dual role. I don’t think that it means I’m not a businesswoman and they are not professional working people in their careers, to me it’s just a mark of respect or acknowledgement to those who do both.

        And yes, I always like special consideration, or really consideration of any kind for people and their circumstances.

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  8. THANK YOU for scribbling down the very thoughts that have been rattling irately around my brain for the last year or so.

    Replacing the thoughts of kittens, knitting and hanging baskets that resided there before I started my own business, natch.

    Post a Reply
    • Oh, now you just stopped my righteous wrath in its tracks with a bloody great guffaw.
      *strokes the poor abandoned kittens*

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  9. Bravo well said. See if you can get this article in front of @DawnHFoster who writes for the Guardian – she regularly hops on similar soapboxes.
    Have tweeted, and will (try and) forward to Dawn.
    Rock on.

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  10. Well said!

    It hadn’t actually occurred to me before, I’d always happily accepted the term mumpreneur, but you are SO RIGHT. Unless we suddenly start calling all fathers who run a business ‘dadpreneurs’, we should ban this word forever.

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  11. Couldn’t agree with you more. I am a Mum and run a business from home, but I certainly don’t need a ‘label’ and such a patronising one at that!

    Post a Reply
    • Exactly – the two have nothing to do with each other, do they?

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  12. Women who seek to be equal to men lack ambition…. ;)

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    • I’ll refrain from answering that, due to the quantities of men who are being nice to me on here and on Twitter… ;)

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  13. Just searched Mumpreneur in your blog search box and found you’ve quite happily used the term on past blog posts yourself. Why was it okay for you to use it then and what’s changed?

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    • I think you’ll find if you read the results of that search, the only time I have used it about myself was when discussing the time I was featured in ‘Pregnancy, Baby & You’ magazine – and I’ve used it in inverted commas after the word ‘supposed’. Purely because this is how the magazine described me at the time.
      The other mentions are as part of a Business Mums Blog Carnival I hosted, the content of which was not of my choosing.
      Do shout if I’ve missed any other times it’s mentioned?

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      • No they’re the times I spotted but why was it okay then? Why were you happy to host a business mums blog carnival that used a term you’re so against, did you complain in the same manner then?

        Is it just the term you’re against or the idea that the business a person does should be judged on business merits alone and not applauded more because she’s a mum?

        Not trying to be argumentative just interested. Thanks

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        • Oh, I didn’t like it! But it was a carnival, that I was hosting as a favour. It’s not for me to ban a third party entry into someone else’s carnival simply because I personally disapprove of a term they use.
          And yes, I’d be absolutely furious if someone looked at my business and thought oh, that’s good… but look! You’re a Mum! Well Done YOU! *gnashes teeth*

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  14. I love it when you’re on a rant, spot on indeed:D

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  15. I’m afraid I have to disagree. I don’t see what the big deal is.

    In fact I think the word mumpreneur is empowering.

    To me the word Mumpreneur suggests that a woman not only runs a family and works at the same time, but that they have used their passion and entrepreneurial spirit to run their own business.

    I wouldn’t call someone who part time runs a business that they don’t really care about, an entrepreneur or a mumpreneur.

    I’d use the term to describe someone who is dedicated to their business AND their family and similtaneously runs both successfully. I’d be hugely flattered if someone called me a mumpreneur (although I actually don’t run a business yet so that’s not going to happen!)

    Equally I have no objections to the term Dadpreneur.

    I think the people who use the term, mean it in a positive light; and the people who don’t use the term are the people who interpret it differently.

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    • Naturally, I’ll respectfully disagree Emma ;)
      Overwhelmingly the responses I’ve had this afternoon, both here and on Twitter & Facebook, are from those women who are in business and actually face being called The ‘M’ Word – and they are the ones who hate it most vociferously.

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  16. I hate the term. I refuse to use it. In fact, I’ve never learnt to pronounce it so I don’t have to use it.

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    • *Tuts* Trust you to start the shouting. Maybe we should get some placards done up…

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  17. I hate the term with a passion. It is so twee, ergo patronising. I am self-employed AND employed (tho not much self-employed work at the moment and am working more, but both are done from home) but I genuinely object to anyone calling me a mumpreneur. I work this way because I have to fit in with a husband with an ever-changing shift pattern, children at school and not able to afford the childcare costs (and good childcare before and after school is like hen’s teeth and very in demand).

    If anyone referred to me as mumpreneur, I would probably deck them. I have over 20 years experience in business. I just happen to be a mum now. I don’t want to remind everyone about that. I don’t hide that I am a working mother from my clients but it doesn’t define my abilities in business.

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    • That’s exactly it Kate – whether you are a mother or not bears absolutely no relevance to your ability as a business person. *growls*

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  18. It’s a patronising term and one I associate with get rich quick schemes to sell people courses on how to be an “m-word”.

    With the buzz around the “m-word” (I can’t even bring myself to type it), you’d have thought that no mother has ever set up a business in the history of the sodding planet.

    I feel patronised by it and I have a penis for goodness sake. (I’m quite proud of it too.)

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  19. Oh I want to print this and frame It and put it on lamp posts everywhere.

    I work four days a week and live with the title working mum I am also the primary breadwinner, my other half works he is known as an employee, or by his job title.

    I would gleefully pinch anyone who dared to call me the m word, like nickie I also refused to learn how to pronounce It…..

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  20. Brilliant piece the sooner people realize that anybody running a business big or small full or part time irrespective of gender is an Entrepreneur pure and simple

    It seems to me that it is only used as a belittling term by closet sexists in a most patronizing manner

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  21. So if you’re an entrepreneur who also happens to be a married woman with no children what WILL they call you?? Wifepreneur?!

    The chap I know who is the main carer for his two small children but also runs his own business from home – where’s his label?

    Pffft…

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  22. *Love* this. I have just posted a similar rant. It fair does my head in that years of education and a bloody good career can be flushed down the toilet with one patronising term. Argh.

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  23. Hi there, I found your blog by way of Google at the same time as looking for a comparable matter, your site came up, it seems to be great. I have added to favourites|added to bookmarks.

    Post a Reply

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