One of the big winners at the recent Mumpreneur conference was Antonia Chitty, a fantastically successful journalist and author, who I've known of through work for a number of years. So I was really interested to receive a copy of Antonia’s latest book, “The Mumpreneur Guide”, billed as the ultimate guide to starting and running your own business.
For anyone considering going into business for themselves, it’s a really useful book. Extremely easy to follow, clearly laid out, easy to read, and with lots of examples from real women in business. It guides women through the process of coming up with a business idea, getting the business established and finding your first customers. The checklists alone should help you avoid many of the pitfalls that can derail new businesses.
Once you’re in business, though, I suspect you’d need much more detailed advice on regulation, taxation, finance and so on, but this is a great place to start as much of the advice is universal and would apply to any new business.
But I must confess – I do have a bit of a problem with the word “mumpreneur”. To me, it conjures up all kinds of cosy images of women running friendly little businesses selling something appropriate, in between baking scones and doing the housework. It's like Diane Keaton in Baby Boom, updated for the Internet age.
When’s the last time you read about a Dadpreneur? You didn’t, because men in business are businessmen or entrepreneurs. So why do we assume that women running a business somehow need a special label to congratulate them on fitting in a little something while also doing their (proper) job of raising a family? Ugh.
Sadly, this book doesn’t do much to challenge that myth. I haven’t counted but I’d hazard a guess that 80% of the businesses mentioned in the book are online businesses set up to sell baby or child-related products or services. There are children’s toys, real nappies, children’s books, children’s dolls, baby clothes, baby towels, baby gifts.
Without intending any disrespect to any of the women running these businesses and the success they've achieved – I’d have loved to have seen a more rounded representation of what women in business can achieve. Where are the IT consultants, the retailers of non-baby products, the financial service whizzes, the inventors or travel gurus? As a journalist who’s covered business for 10 years, I know they’re out there – I've interviewed some incredibly inspiring business women and entrepreneurs in my time – but perhaps they’ve escaped the ‘mumpreneur’ tag?
I’d be interested to know what other women think – is being called a mumpreneur a compliment to women?