Mums in business on the rise

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One in six Australian small businesses is owned by a mum and the number of Aussie businesses operated by women with dependent children is set to rise.

These are just some of the finding of the Mums & Co Australian Mums in Business Report. Do we really need a focus on the mums in business category? Carrie Kwan, founder of Mums & Co said that with more than 300,000* business owner mothers in Australia providing income for over half a million Australians, it’s time to shine a light on this hidden segment of the Australian workforce.

“She can be an entrepreneur, running a family business or a self-employed consultant. Australian mums in business contribute significantly to our economy and it’s time she’s acknowledged and better supported,” Carrie said.

The lack of flexibility across Australian workplaces, increasing childcare costs, unequal pay and the rise of the gig economy are all making starting a business more and more attractive for skilled up mums. still not great at supporting working women in dependent children

“They now want to take back control of what’s important to them. Nearly half [the women surveyed] started their own business as working for someone else was not viable.

“Our report indicates business mums have better wellbeing and embody the Aussie spirit of having a go. Four in five believe they are a happier person as a result of starting their own businesses. While most mums experience a sense of ‘mummy guilt’, interestingly, 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 per cent believe they are setting a good example for their kids.

“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. 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,” Carrie said.

*Source: “A Profile of Australian Women in Business”, prepared by ABS for the Office For Women, 2015          

Mums & Co Australian Mums in Business Report – Key Findings

Who is the Australian Mum in Business?

  • The average mum in business has two kids and is likely to be educated. Half of all business mums are between 30 and 39 years old.

  • One in ten are single parents, nearly a third are born overseas and one in four have more than one business.

  • She believes in having a go - more than half have businesses in a completely new field to what they were doing before.

  • She believes there’s no better time than now time to start a business – a third started their businesses while on parental leave, one in ten started their businesses while pregnant, and six out of ten mums who started their business this year have an infant or toddler.

  • Hidden workforce - most (84%) don’t have staff, those who do on average employ four to five staff (mix of full-time, part-time, casual and contractors).

  • Some were pushed into it - for some, the decision was made for them as they weren’t able to find suitable employment, the role changed or they were made redundant while on maternity leave.

She’s taking back control of what’s important to her, and she’s happier for it

  • Taking back control of what’s important to her - half needed to start their own business as working for someone else was not viable.
  • Doing it her way - flexibility in working hours and location is one of the primary triggers to mothers starting their businesses.
  • Flexibility and passion - flexibility (71%) and doing something they are passionate about (57%) are the two main benefits mums see from running their own businesses.
  • Mummy guilt and being a role model - most mums experience a sense of mummy guilt, interestingly, 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% per cent believe they are setting a good example for their kids.
  • Better sense of wellbeing - four in five believe they are a happier person as a result of starting their own businesses. 

What’s holding some back from launching a business

  • Financial concerns a major barrier - one in two considerers believe that financial concerns act as a major barrier to them starting a business, both costs associated with setup and access to capital funding.
  • Knowing how to turn an idea into a commercial business - four in five considerers are concerned with the commerciality of their idea. They need guidance on all of the fundamentals of the business start-up process.

Trends – The Australian mum in business today

  • More and more mothers are turning online to social media and networking groups – particularly networks with other business mums to get the support they need. Three in four see the value of having a support group of other mums and three in five find networking groups extremely useful.
  • Migrant Mums in Business - nearly one in three business mums are born overseas. Migrant mums in business were less likely to consider self-belief as a barrier to starting their business. They are less likely to worry about finances compared to Australian-born business mums, but need more help with marketing and are more likely to rely on networking and online communities. This group had additional barriers in that only around one-third have family to rely on for child care as opposed to roughly half of Australian-born business mums.

The journey’s not always easy and she needs support

  • Challenging - the report shows that almost half believe that their responsibility as a parent has acted as a barrier to the success of the business and half of all mums in business found starting a business very challenging.

  • The Aussie mum in business is most likely doing it on her own – most don’t have financial support from others, and over half (53%) are using their own savings or have taken a loan (15%) to fund the business.

  • Support with childcare - a majority have the support of a partner in looking after the kids (60%), while four in ten call on family members, and business mums also heavily rely on schools and childcare centres.

  • More needs to be done to help mothers in business - there is a gap in knowledge about finances, marketing and setting up businesses correctly.

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