Tag Archives: starting a business

Mums making money

15 Jun

I just changed the headline of this post. I was going to call it “mumpreneurs” but the word is frankly just too schmaltzy for comfort.

It’s the kind of word you’d expect to see stuck to someone’s forehead on a pink post-it note during a brainstorming session run by a Soho marketing consultancy. And that is a world away from the kind of thing I’m thinking about.

Yesterday I met a woman who sold her house to start her business. She couldn’t get a bank loan, didn’t qualify for any of her local council’s start-up schemes and has a young child of her own. Her idea – a cafe with a Fun House type play area (yup, showing my age there) – opened its doors a few weeks ago.

She bought the cafe venue outright and had the play area designed specifically to fit the space.

She has to clear £14000 profit in her first year just to pay the council tax. The hummous sandwich I bought there for my little son cost £2 – that’s a hell of a lot of hummous sandwiches. She may feel she deserved more encouragement from the authorities – but even if she does, she is not daunted by the scale of her challenge.

Her only regret is that her own little boy would rather help mummy in the kitchen than run free in his new soft play kingdom.

Coincidentally yesterday a friend also added me to a new Facebook group of local businesswomen. Oh my God. There are hundreds of them. Selling cakes, offering photography services, painting faces, organising clothing sales – the group is growing by the hour. In the last two days nearly 200 women have joined.

I am astonished and amazed by the way in which these women are turning their lives into their livelihoods. Who said we were no longer a nation of shopkeepers? I have worked for a large employer, for  a number of years, doing the job I always wanted to do.  I’m not sure whether I would have the balls to start out from scratch, on my own, offering something I do for free for my family every single day. What is it worth, in cold hard cash? I have no idea. My family may be duty-bound to eat whatever I rustle up for them in the kitchen, for example, but I’m not sure I could actually charge for it (that may say more about my catering skills than my business nous).

Here in the UK the last three months of maternity leave, if you choose to take it, is unpaid. Having no income of my own has been a humbling experience, to say the least. But while the champagne hasn’t exactly been flowing, I have seen my son begin to wave, point, crawl and say “mama”. If I’m lucky he will take his first steps with me before I return to work full time in August. That for me is payment enough of course – but it’s not going to pay the rent.

To be honest right now, any company that could offer me 10 hours of glorious, uninterrupted sleep could name its price.

Hmm – now there’s an idea.