Nearly half of unemployed mothers are seriously considering starting a business but don’t know where to start, according to a survey.
Seventy-four percent of out-of-work mothers polled by Redshift Research and social network MumsLikeYou cited having someone to guide them through the process of setting up a business as an important factor in the decision to start a business.
That such a huge proportion of women with children are considering starting a business is remarkable given that doing so, at least in the early stages, is associated with long working hours and high stress levels. However, the advent of the internet has made flexible working arrangements, both in terms of hours and being able to work from home, increasingly feasible for entrepreneurs.
And flexible working arrangements are obviously of paramount importance to mothers.
Eighty three percent of the 1,000 unemployed mothers surveyed said they would work for themselves if they could choose how many hours they worked and when. Seventy-eight percent of mums prefer having the family-friendly flexibility of a home-based business, with only 22% preferring to work in an office of people.
Three quarters (76%) of unemployed mothers would start a business if they felt it was viable.
Setting up Phoenix Trading allowed me to spend as much time with my children as I wanted, allowing me to generate an income, have flexible hours and have all the perks of a working life
Robin Bradley, Pheonix Trading founder
When asked why there weren't more women in business, three quarters of British mothers (74%) feel lack of flexible working conditions is the biggest barrier. As well as flexibility, the absence of affordable childcare (70%), the hours required to work (76%), funding from banks (48%), domestic commitments (67%), sexism (37%) and government red tape (16%) were all cited as barriers.
Mother of two Robin Bradley set up Phoenix Trading, the greetings card publishing house which commissioned the research, 15 years ago. She’s keen to dispel the many fears entrepreneurial mothers apparently harbour about going it alone in business.
“Setting up Phoenix Trading allowed me to spend as much time with my children as I wanted, allowing me to generate an income, have flexible hours and have all the perks of a working life,” she says.
Referring to the card distribution franchise opportunity her company offers, she adds: “Setting up your own business can seem daunting, which is why we provide lots of support for those who want to set themselves up as Independent Phoenix Traders, but aren’t sure how to go about it. I hope that they can find the work/life balance that every mother aspires to discover.”
Iveta Tancheva, mother of one and founder of the social network Mums Like You, left a successful career in the City to launch the Mums Like You network. She believes that flexibility gives entrepreneurship an edge over regular employment for women with children.
“Returning to work after becoming a mother was a particularly difficult decision. The lack of affordable childcare and flexible jobs means that many mums need to start their own businesses as a way to balance family and work, and we see much evidence of this on Mums Like You, where we have a large community of mum entrepreneurs.
Whether mums return to the working world as an employee or entrepreneur, she adds, “Phoenix Trading’s survey clearly shows how important support and networking opportunities are in helping mums return to work.”
Sixty-two percent of British mothers say a lack of confidence keeps them away from the workplace, even though 81% of mothers worked full-time before raising children. Nearly half (46%) fail to return to any sort of work after pregnancy.
Just less than half (48%) of the respondents admitted to feeling envious when they hear the success stories of ‘mumpreneurs’.