The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 6
MOTHERHOOD AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP:
THE MUMPRENEUR PHENOMENON
Unitec, New Zealand
A. Maritz and O. Thongprovati
Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship
Swinburne University of Technology
Women entrepreneurs play a significant role in contributing to the growth of the global
and local economy. Many of the contributions come from a strong emerging trend of so called
“Mumpreneurs”, which describes mothers involved in entrepreneurial activities. In this chapter,
the authors study the new phenomenon of integrating motherhood and entrepreneurship; about
their underlying desire to create a better environment for their family and overall community.
The uniqueness of being a Mumpreneur is about balancing work and life, sense of achievement
and satisfaction with oneself, increasing income, gaining respect to equalize gender imbalance,
and becoming independent. There are however challenges facing Mumpreneurs. These include
starting ventures with lack of appropriate knowledge, resource constraints, stereotypes, balancing
work and life, and limited networking opportunities. To encounter these challenges, the authors
select three mini case studies, based on Australian Mumpreneurs to explore their strategies of
overcoming such challenges and barriers. Ultimately, recommendations are introduced for
newcomer or nascent Mumpreneurs, raising their new ventures in addition to their motherhood
duties. Global and domestic economic prosperity will be maximised and sustained only when
women have the equal footing with males. This calls for a change in the business environment,
more effective programs from social institutions and government, to better support women being
amongst others, Mumpreneurs.
Keywords: Entrepreneurs, Mumpreneurs, Family, Women.
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 7
The purpose of this paper is to explore women and entrepreneurship, and more explicitly,
those women referred to as “Mumpreneurs”. Whilst entrepreneurs are people who habitually
create and develop new ventures of value around perceived opportunities (Maritz, 2004),
Mumpreneurs add a whole new dimension to entrepreneurship. The new dimension is
motherhood, whereby these women business owners balance the role of mother and the role of
entrepreneurship. Their motivation is the altruistic desire to create a better environment for their
family and overall community.
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2007 identifies that women signify more
than one-third of all entrepreneurs, and are expected to participate predominantly in roles in
informal sectors. Informal sectors include the emergence of Mumpreneurs, whereby instead of
returning to the formal workforce, Mumpreneurs create new businesses around their family
environment and circumstances. Mumpreneurs also actively participate in the gender, home-
based and lifestyle entrepreneurship domains.
This form of new venture business creation however has its own set of unique challenges,
including fear of failure, less optimistic and confidence in business than men, and most
importantly, securing start-up finance. Despite these challenges, many Mumpreneurs venture
into the unknown, and then struggle in managing their growing businesses. Some successful
business cases are selected to aid understanding of Australian women who have been taking this
emerging role, the Mumpreneurs. Lastly, ten recommendations or tips are included for budding
Mumpreneurs to start their new businesses. Budding Mumpreneurs are referred to as nascent
Mumpreneurs, being those Mums with a desire to commence an entrepreneurial new venture.
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 8
The context discussed in this chapter is predominantly based in Australia. However,
many approaches identified may also well be applicable in Asia Pacific. We do however lend on
the literature from USA and New Zealand.
This paper on Mumpreneurs results from an exploratory process identifying this new
entrepreneurship phenomenon. It commence with a review of Women in entrepreneurship,
predominantly focusing on the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. A review of the limited
literature was complimented by a focus group of identified Mumpreneurs, together with thematic
apperception testing of five individual Mumpreneurs. Factors were identified and graded
regarding specific challenges and dynamics peculiar to this entrepreneurship segment. The
thematic guide also highlighted specific recommendations for nascent Mumpreneurs. Case-study
methodology was also introduced to substantiate the apperception from the limited field of
Entrepreneurship and Mumpreneurs
Entrepreneurship occupies a significant role in reshaping economies and societies. It
entails the new production process and the introduction of new products or services to new
market segments that shapes new organizational structures (Craig and Lindsay, 2002). Generally,
entrepreneurship can be defined as a practice by which an individual habitually creates and
develops new innovative ventures of value in response to perceived business opportunities
(Maritz, 2004). This practice creates employment opportunities, more income and family
Women have the skills, knowledge and capabilities to be as entrepreneurial as men.
According to GEM 2007, there have been an increasing number of women entrepreneurs
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 9
throughout the world, who participate in early stage entrepreneurial activity and establish
themselves as business owners (Allen, Elam, Langowitz, Dean, 2007). The rate significantly and
quietly increased from 5 percent to 38 percent in 30 years (Nelton, 1998). An early stage of
entrepreneurial activity determines business that has not been operated more than 3.5 years. On
the other hand, established entrepreneurs who have been operational more than 3.5 years, in
which time they have a higher chance of failure (Allen et al., 2007). Further evidence is
supported by Non-profit Women’s Business Research that the rate of women who start their new
venture is double the rate as of men in America. Besides, there are 10.6million women-owned
businesses which create $2 trillion of income yearly. An online website for US Women’s
networking group such as Ladies Who Launch also provides workshop for the members. It is
found that almost 50 percent are mothers out of 25,000 members (Bower, 2005).
In Australia, the total percentage of female business owners is surprisingly very close to
men (18.43 to 23.69 respectively). Furthermore, the prevalence rates of entrepreneurial activity is
equivalent to 9.87 percent as of female and 14.02 percent as of male at the early stage of
entrepreneurial activity. The percentage of established female business owners is at 8.56 whereas
men at only 9.67 (Allen, Langowitz, Minniti, 2006). Even though the female contribution to
economic growth is increasingly important and is a key factor that should not be overlooked,
little attention and support has been paid to women entrepreneurs. A study by GEM 2007 reports
those women involved in entrepreneurial activity gain higher profits than men. This result
suggests that women have a greater sense of leadership that connects to better corporate
governance and management practices, which impacts firm profitability (Allen et al., 2007).
Mumpreneurs is a new emerging trend that takes on the concept of entrepreneurship into
family businesses. It is a part of female entrepreneurship that describes women who start their
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 10
own new ventures besides taking a role of being a mother. Family entrepreneurial business is
more complex than non-family business. This is due to combination of the two interacting
systems: the family and the business (Davis, 1983; Landsberg, 1983). Birley (1989: 37) explains
it: “Until very recently, the major role of women was seen in most Western economies by both
men and women to be that of wife and mother. Indeed, even should they take employment this
was almost always in addition to their role as homemaker.” Harris, Morrison, Ho & Lewis
(2008) identified the link between motherhood and the entrepreneurial experience through an
exploration of how the Mumpreneur orients the activities of her enterprise to her family, her
child(ren) and her personal aspirations. Their title however indicates that Mumpreneurs are in the
business of babies, which is not necessarily correct. Mumpreneurs do not limit their business
activities within the baby products and services domain, despite research indicating such a
The term “Mumpreneur” was conceptualised by Patricia Cobe and Ellen H. Parlapiano
over a decade ago. Their original established online website called Momprenersonline.com is a
women’s-only networking group which draw over 7 million visitors each month. The site
includes online community, blogs, lively conversations on message boards, a marketplace of
unique products and services by Mumpreneurs, articles, books and business advice from experts
for start-up entrepreneurial mums to work from home. Today’s technological innovations and
internet capabilities further allow home-based businesses a possibility for every mother to market
their products (Bower, 2005).
Scholars consent that foreseen business opportunity, social capital and self-concept are
perhaps significant manipulators on entrepreneurial activity (Allen et al., 2007). However, the
motives behind the business start-up among males and females are different (Cromie, 1987).
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 11
There are push and pull factors underlying the motivation to become an entrepreneur. Pull
factors are positive, which refers to opportunity entrepreneurs, as driven by a business
opportunity. Women in Australia are often found to be motivated through perceived opportunity.
Push factors are negative, which refers to necessity entrepreneurs, as driven by unemployment,
dissatisfaction with the workforce or inflexible labour markets and needs to earn money for
living (Alstete, 2003; Orhan and Scott, 2001; Allen et al., 2007; Maritz, 2004).
Mumpreneurs can be driven by both pull and push factors. The primary desire is to create
a better environment for their family and overall greater community.
According to Cromie (1987), women not satisfied with their previous jobs found self-
employment as a way to solve the conflict of personal and work demands. Women see business
ownership as the only way to make money for living while being committed to family and
domestic responsibilities (Fielden, Davidson, Dawe, Makin, 2003). The motive that raises
innovativeness is the frustration and dissatisfaction with the products and services available and/
or not available in the domestic market. This is particular the case for baby or kid-inspired
products or services, for instance, Mac & Cool— an instant cool bowl for kids or night-child care
centres to avoid parent’s sleepless nights (Bower, 2005; Kuchment, 2006). An unconditional
love of motherhood leads mothers to innovatively develop more suitable products for their
babies—being the mother of invention. Having seen an unexploited business opportunity, the
initial products for their own babies then become commercialized to other mothers. This is one
of the reasons why most of the women’s ventures in Australia fall in consumer products in retail
and wholesale industries. Nevertheless, only a small number of businesses could be claimed as
totally new to every customer at the early stage of entrepreneurial activity (Allen et al., 2007).
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 12
Again it is highlighted that Mumpreneurs operate across a wide spectrum of markets and
domains, not only limited to baby products and services.
Brush (1992) explains that the key motivation for female entrepreneurs is the concern in
helping others. Women often integrate the business and family relationships together to the
community. Mumpreneurs are motivated because they want to make a difference and contribute
to the community and society. Hence, they are more client-oriented than men (Orhan and Scott,
2001). Since they get together to develop their communities and help each other in terms of
preparation for their babies, resources, education and training, women are perceived to be more
socially oriented than men. Generally, Mumpreneurs are also more likely to recruit other mums
into partnerships and networks. . This creates jobs for other mothers and yet again helping one
another to achieve greater revenues and profits. In developing countries, business practices of
Mumpreneurs even decrease the effect of discrimination against women in labour market.
(Weiler and Bernasek, 2001; Moore, 2003).
The uniqueness of being Mumpreneurs is that they are about balancing work and life;
sense of achievement and satisfactory with oneself; increasing income; gaining respect to
equalize gender, and becoming independent. The most outstanding factor about being
Mumpreneurs is that it is not all about wealth creation. The goals for women to enter business
ownership are not about financial gains, but to follow their intrinsic needs (Rosa, Carter and
Hamilton, 1996). This aspect is totally different than male entrepreneurs. Each mother by nature
stays intimate with her babies through pregnancy until birth. This role emphasises an important
fact of being Mumpreneurs and their desire to spend more quality time on their babies and
family, hence a very clear objective is set to balancing family and work, whereas the traditional
workforce does not allow them to have such significant flexibility and independence. Many
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 13
women perceive entrepreneurship as an approach to earn for and better look after their families,
resolving two duties in one goal.
Secondly, it is not just about being a mother. Women who previously had a career their
whole life and after all just stay at home all day caring for their babies can become bored, lonely
and unhappy. The new venture puts more meaning into their lives, creates self-fulfilment,
autonomy, and self-esteem. Hence, Mumpreneurs enjoy more stimulation than motherhood alone
can provide. Women deferring childbirth in preference to careers is also the factor behind the
surge as they enjoy achieving things. Thirdly, income support from spouses alone may not be
adequate in today’s economically demanding economy. This creates the desire for wealth. The
latest world economical crisis (late 2008) also contributes toward nascent Mumpreneurs wishing
to supplement family income. Fourthly, the gender gap is still exists. Mumpreneurs can gain
respect, social status and power while being regarded as business people. Lastly, these drive
women to gain greater economic and social independence; the most frequently quoted ‘pull’
manipulators for female entrepreneurs (McClelland and Swail, 2005). This is especially true for
young mothers or single mothers against discrimination in labour market (Allen et al., 2007).
Challenges facing Nascent Mumpreneurs
Resembling men, women can run their own businesses across a variety of markets and
industries. However, it is not easy to start a business while also being a mother. Since 1930s, the
trend emerged toward a “double burden” for women to concurrently and successfully take the
responsibility to perform the roles of worker and mother (Allen et al., 2007). A worldwide
entrepreneurship survey last year showed that women still face a variety of challenges and
problems in developing and running a business (McKay, 2001; Allen et al., 2006). Many barriers
still exist for them to establish and grow new ventures. The literature also supports that there are
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 14
obstacles faced by female entrepreneurs, which prevent their developments (O’Gorman, 2001).
Five core challenges are identified, integrating literature with this qualitative research:
1. Getting started with lack of knowledge: Many mothers find it difficult to put their heads
back into business after having babies. They often had no idea how to write a business plan,
source manufacturers, find the market for their products and establish the new venture. Imagine
women who have been staying home as housewives, many of whom may have lost business
contacts. It is unclear how to seek business and legal advice, develop the knowledge and
managerial skills required to establish the businesses locally and internationally. Nelson (1987)
finds that women are at disadvantages in education and working experiences as they approach
entrepreneurial activity. It is only the passion the mothers have to attempt to produce the
products for their babies and the community as a whole. This led the mothers facing the risks of
starting a new venture, a challenge calling for appropriate mentoring, assistance, education and
2. Resources constraints: It is found that female entrepreneurs have a distinct lack of
financial support. Most Mumpreneurs have started their own business with their own savings or
personal assets and employ little or no external funding. This is because they found the problem
of securing start-up finance without having credit ratings and a formal business plan. They
require obtaining capital as the most serious self-described barrier to growth in Australia (Moore
2003). “Financial aspects of venture start-up and management are without a doubt the biggest
obstacles for women” (Brush, 1992: 14).
Moreover, many mothers often have the responsibilities of do-it-all domestic labours and
limited assistance. Without enough savings, they cannot establish the business and find extra
resources to unload their accountability. Finding suitable employees also seem to be a problem
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 15
as expressed by an Australian entrepreneur; “One of the biggest barriers for me was getting good
staff who were able to work in a start-up versus a corporate culture...Being a tiny company with
global clients – trying to meet their expectations of delivery, quality and service” (McClelland
and Swail, 2005: 100)
3. Women stereotype: Women and men have different perspectives regarding how they see
the world. They face different situations and react differently react to a given situation and
approaches to the market place. Across the globe, women entrepreneurs express more fear of
failure to start up their own businesses more than men. A mother is less optimistic about her own
ability and has less self-confidence. The more risk adverse characteristic kept them away from
engaging in new ventures; with more than one-third of women communicating a fear of failure.
These factors are a significant forecaster of nascent Mumpreneurs. Accordingly, women’s level
of confidence to successfully run the business is still less than men (43 percent and 59 percent
respectively) (Allen et al., 2007).
4. Balancing work and life: Work family balance has been a topic of academic interest
since the 1980s, and recently considered as a ‘woman’s issue’ in the study of entrepreneurship
(Greene, Hart, Gatewood, Brush and Carter, 2003: 10). Many researches embrace discussion of
the challenges that Mumpreneurs face in combining business and family responsibilities (see for
example Brush 1997). It is not easy to balance a business while raising children. Having your
own business could mean higher responsibilities and thus, balancing work and family is even
more difficult. Women still face traditional culture and values, emotional attachment to family
assets in which stress on their role as being a mother within the family and on the time spent on
their babies or kids. There is a risk involved in terms of running their own business while setting
aside the amount of appropriate time to their family responsibilities.
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 16
Eveline (1999: 5) states “The traditional disengaged father still predominates in Australia,
as in most randomly sampled studies elsewhere” This is because men “face important economic,
policy and cultural constraints to their involvement” (Flood 2003: viii). Only mothers are
encouraged to provide intensive care and nurturing for their children (Pocock, 2005). This
stereotype requires some Mumpreneurs to do it all on domestic and emotional labour. Hence,
Mumpreneurs may face the “feelings of ambivalence, parental stress and work/ family conflict”
(Eveline 1999:4). It is a cultural contradiction to motherhood. Resistance from family shows the
greatest obstacles for female entrepreneurs in developing countries (Babaeva and Chirikova,
1997). Pocock (2005) regards this clash as the “work/ life collision”. The literature also indicates
that such family obligations restrict the strategic decision making of Mumpreneurs.
5. Fewer networking opportunities: Having a role model, access to information and social
networking are important for entrepreneurs regardless of gender. However, there is an argument
supported by GEM 2007 that there is less opportunity for women than that of men (Allen et al.,
2007). Birley (1989) finds that often women do not have the opportunity to basically socialize in
the commercial networks in their previous employment. They only gain their first managerial
experience in their home-based businesses. Women have a lack of connection with smaller
business networks to start and promote the growth of the business; lack of high-level network
contacts that men can draw on to advance the businesses including the work around legal
deficiencies (Carter and Rosa, 1998). Additionally, it is due to societal factors that women have
less time for both informal and formal networking (Ibarra, 1993). Thus, with existing
qualifications, they often became entrepreneurs through hobby-related small-scale privatization
of shops and restaurants.
Mini Case Studies of Australian Mumpreneurs
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 17
Although being Mumpreneurs contribute many benefits to women, a few Mumpreneurs
have failed to continue their new ventures. Others have lost the balance between work and
family, often resulting in domestic disputes. These are predominantly due to the challenges and
barriers as previously described. However, Australian women are a lot more active in starting up
new business compared to some other high income countries, for instance Italy, Japan, Germany
and France. On average, 25-34 year old women are involved in entrepreneurial activity in early
stage, and then grow into established entrepreneurs at age 35-44. When entrepreneurial activity
is motivated by opportunity, less fear of failure was expressed in Australia (Allen et al., 2007).
More cases found that Australian Mumpreneurs have successfully been managing businesses
well. Many Mumpreneurs who started their own businesses with inspiration after motherhood
are now becoming instant millionaires. The selected case studies entail how they approach, the
challenges and the methods they use to operate the businesses and reflect to family life. They are
extraordinary women with successful businesses, and thus studying and learning from real-life
Mumpreneurs present valuable lessons.
“SINGLE - MUM”-PRENEURS: UNTOXCITY SOAP WITH BODY SHOP AUSTRALIA
Many young mothers can struggle to start a business when they have a lack of
experience. However, many nascent Mumpreneurs have received assistance from the Body Shop
Australia. The Body Shop and the Australian Federal Department of Education, Science and
Training (DEST) developed their project in Victoria, New South Wales and Brisbane in early
2006 called “Babes in Business (BiB): An enterprise education project for young mothers and
young women”, which offers 11 days of business training, creative workshops, mentoring,
teamwork and other long-term support for women entrepreneurship (Studdert, 2007). Their
objective is “to build the innovation and enterprise skills of young mothers and women to assist
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 18
in developing alternative income streams and re-engagement in local communities” (Cunniffe,
2006). This encourages mothers to start their small home-based business to balance work and
family. The program provides assistance in developing personal and business-related skills for
mothers to seek for perceived business opportunities. Many Mumpreneurs do not know that all
their skills of motherhood in fact can be transferred into business. Raising a child includes
commitment, day-to-day/ short and long term plan, communication, scheduling and organisation,
creativity and so forth; all of which can be used to run a business (Cunniffe, 2006). For instance,
the daily activities require a mother to be very organized to schedule time to prepare meals, pick
up their kids or pay attention to small details to even remember where the kids left their socks at
In the course of its great benefits to young women, positive social change and community
as a whole, it recently attracted American Express who offers up to $5000 loans-without-interest
and the Red Cross to be committed as the sponsors (Studdert, 2007). The program also covers
costs of business registration for start-ups. BiB catered around 15 participants aged between 18
and 25 via wide range of supportive partner community agencies such YWCA (Cunniffe, 2006).
Melisa Bentaberry, a young single mother who has a passion and desire to run a natural
soap business, is one of the first graduates from Melbourne course. She had suffered terribly
from eczema, was unemployed and has to raise a child with chronic sleeping problems alone, all
of which left her at difficulties. Melisa has limited experience but found her passion in nursing,
organic and natural healing. From the interview with the Australian Newspaper says Melisa “I
needed special soaps and shampoos for my skin. It seems a natural development to begin making
them myself. But I also got interested in the healing power certain plants have, in their scents and
essential oils and wanted to combine those with the soaps”. In addition, she says “I was ready to
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 19
make the commitment to setting up my own business but I had no money, no credit rating, and
knew I’d never get a loan” (Studdert, 2007). This is the dilemma that many Mumpreneurs face
prior to start up. The program manager, Paula Cunniffee articulates “Many say they felt very
poorly judged as young mums, but find that after the program they get treated with respect as
business people” (Studdert, 2007). Many people have the attitude towards stereotype of young
single mothers that their lives will be ruined. This supports the argument to one of the motives
that being Mumpreneurs is to equalize gender and to gain respect proving that those people are
wrong. Also, it was apparent that Melisa would need to increase income being a single mother.
With support from the BiB program, she has now been able to start up her own hand-
made soaps business and work from home. A good concept of Melisa to create balance to the
bodies to different people’s lifestyles using soap has translated into entrepreneurship. The
weekend workshops at premises also include childcare support and nursery facilities making it
easy for young mothers to attend. The three stages cover 1) Discovering innovation and
enterprise, 2) Developing enterprise and 3) Implementing and evaluating enterprise. Generally, it
goes through all business essentials to develop required business skills, the entire business plan
including supplies, finance and marketing, networking and alliances to put inspiration to action.
Regular meeting is done throughout the program by teamwork to review progress, discuss ideas
and advice provided by visiting experts including emotional support. Mentoring and personal/
business networking also allows participants to build sustainable businesses and stronger
community in the long run (Cunniffe, 2006).
KIDSPOT.COM.AU PTY LTD – THE MUMPRENEURS PARTNERSHIP
The Two Mumpreneurs, Katie May and Dani Gurrie, both mothers of two kids together
started an online privately owned business Kidspot Australia, a website that simplifies activities
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 20
of parenthood. In 2005, it all began from Katie’s idea, the former marketing director of
www.seek.com.au; Australia’s number one job site. It was when her daughter was reaching five
years old and Katie the 39-year-old mother expressed her frustration of unable to find a jumping
castle on the Internet for her daughter. She decided to put together her ideas and came up with
nearly entire business plan to show her co-worker, Dani the 38-year-old mother who is now in
the partnership (O’Brien, 2007). As earlier mentioned, the study supports this evidence that
Mumpreneurs often call in other mums into partnership (Allen et al., 2007).
Katie and Dani started off with their own savings and kept their day jobs while doing
market evaluation. It initially presented only as a directory of maternity, baby and kid related
products and activities. In June 2006, US-born Katie has moved back to the US with her husband
a former Australian cricketer Tim May. She manages the home-based business in Texas with
monthly visit to the South Melbourne office-with twelve employees. After a few years, the
website has become very popular with hundreds of companies listed for organizing kid’s parties,
a market to buy and sell kid-inspired products, a rich community and private forum/ chat for
mums to share experiences. All in all, the information feedbacks to Katie and Dani to customize
content what parents need to know and editorial to match the interests. Due to its popularity, it
eventually attracted the founding investor of www.seek.com.au, Irvin Rockman to come on
board to support the financial aspect (O’Brien, 2007).
By being Mumpreneurs give Katie and Danie the flexibility; the motive to balance work
and life. “I’m taking kids to activities which used to be outsourced. I may have to work to
midnight, but I’ m much more satisfied with my balance in terms of being a mum” says Katie.
Danie also enjoys bringing her kids to the Melbourne office where she is in charge and having
home-based business two days per week. She emphasises the fact that a support from her
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 21
husband, Ashley whom with IT background, is critical, “He is extraordinarily supportive, as are
my in-laws” says Danie (O’Brien, 2007: 152).
Partnership between Katie and Danie, the two mothers bring forward the case of women
entrepreneurship and their uniqueness in term of being social-oriented in the community. They
help each other to turn their good ideas into great profitable business, and this is true for Katie as
she expresses “Dani gave me the confidence to keep going. When you have a partner, there’s a
sense of obligation – I wouldn’t have done it without her” (O’Brien, 2007: 152). Generally,
Mumpreneurs tie a strong bond between each other; that is what makes the difference between
men entrepreneurs and Mumpreneurs.
CUDDLEFISH.COM.AU – GOING INTERNATIONAL
International trade is a significant avenue for worldwide economic growth. Women
owned businesses that operate internationally have shown to be more successful than those
domestic-focused (McKay, 2001). Thus, it is important for businesses to seek out new markets
and expand customer base. However, the exact numbers of women entrepreneurs who involve in
international trade are still uncertain. The National Foundation for Women Business Owners
(1998) has done several interviews, and the result shows that 12.5 percent to 33 percent of the
female entrepreneurs were engaged in international trade (McClelland and Swail, 2005). Koreen
(2001); cited in McClelland and Swail (2005: 87) points out that “comprehensive studies are
lacking and there exist important gaps in statistics on the small firm in international trade broken
down by gender”.
Only some of women entrepreneurs have lived in other countries than their own, which
aid them to expand the business internationally (Allen et al., 2007). As otherwise, to start-up a
business for mothers already seem difficult. Significantly, it is found that 100 percent of the
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 22
women entrepreneurs in Australia were trading internationally. The majority of the businesses
could be seen as born global from the beginning (McClelland and Swail, 2005).
Caroline Hume a 37-year-old mother is one of the Mumpreneurs in Melbourne, who
takes the advantage of overseas experiences to expand her business internationally. She used to
live in Hong Kong, Switzerland, and London with her husband and worked overseas in
marketing and event management. Even though she never had a dream to become a Mumpreneur
when she was a teacher in 2001, during her holiday visit to France, Caroline brought a buoyancy
suit for her one-year-old daughter, Isabella. There were many interests from people about where
they can get the kind of buoyancy suit that has a 50+ UV sun-protection and very stylish.
Afterwards, the products became unavailable and Caroline struggled to find it for her younger
daughter, Eva. It was the passion to find the product for her daughter that drove her. Before long,
Cuttlefish was founded (O’Brien, 2007).
Caroline did her market research, discussed with family and friends and prepared her new
swimwear range to launch in 2003. By doing so, she made few appointments with the shop
owners in Brighton beach and showed them the samples of her buoyancy swimsuits, and
received great feedback. In 2007, the Australian made best-selling suit with built-in flotation
went global to Hong Kong, America, England, Belgium, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore and
many more. A great idea of the product made locally is now being exported internationally and
throughout Australia. The company started up cost was $10,000 from the savings of Calorine and
her husband. It became profitable in year 2005 and met its target in the following year (O’Brien,
According to an objective of being a Mumpreneur, Caroline emphasises that her
daughters “have always come first”. She manages to work from home with a warehouse nearby
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 23
her place. Home-based business allows her to have more time for her kids; “I don’t have to rush
the children out the door and I’m there for every single pick-up” says Caroline (O’Brien, 2007:
150). However, she has set her own boundary to make it work. This is an important part, as one
of the tips, to remembering the objective is to balance work and family. Thus, managing and
dedicating time to the kids is more than important. Caroline has two phone lines to separate
between running daily business and personal life; no personal calls during working hours and no
more working hours after five. Mumpreneurs have to be able to separate working hours and time
spent for their family. “It’s like a mathematical sum – how much time you can give your
business for it to work and how much time you can give your children to achieve the balance that
people talk about” (O’Brien, 2007: 151). After all, “my business is just part of my life and I
couldn’t be happier” says Caroline (O’Brien, 2007: 150). The underlying motive of having sense
of achievement and self-satisfaction was there. Growing the business for Mumpreneurs
especially going international may be difficult, but it is not impossible.
The headline author, Dr Alex Maritz was invited to participate on National Television (Channel
10) in 2007, with an Australian Mumpreneur. See http://video.aol.com/video-detail/9am-alex-
maritz-and-julie-haines-interview/3178958642. With more and more Australian women trying to
juggle the role of mum and managing director, the phrase Mumpreneur has been coined for all
those mothers who’ve started a business from home. Business Expert, Dr Alex Maritz, and Small
Business mum, Julie Haines, shared some tips on how to get started in your own small business.
We share these with you in the next section.
Recommendations for Nascent Mumpreneurs
The roles and responsibilities for work and family are doubling up for Mumpreneurs, but
nonetheless, it is amazing how many mothers can strive to earn incomes to support their children
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 24
and balance work and life. This is because they have the skills of being a mother, which can be
used in businesses. Increasingly many mothers are developing new ventures while their babies
are sleeping, as evident by the mini case studies. But what is however the right approach to
facilitate success and how to?
We introduce these ten tips for newcomers to becoming Mumpreneurs, to raise the kids
as well as raising a new business— as another baby of your own.
1. Passions and talents drive: Realising the full potential of your own true passions and
talents is the ultimate drive for daily work life. As a Mumpreneurs, working seems like a fun job
when you enjoy what you love and be able to do what you are skilled at. This could start from
evaluating your interests like hobby, personality and skills to scope your viable business project
(Parlapiano and Cobe, 2007). As found in the mini case studies, many mums are creating kid-
inspired products to solve their problem they have experienced as parents.
Marry Toniolo, the founder of Bella products, a million-dollar toy company that has won
many awards such Girl Toy of the Year at the American International Toy Fair from Dancerella
Home Ballet Studio, an instructional video, ballet barre and mat says “Fun still drives me. I
couldn’t work this hard unless I enjoyed it and, if you’re having fun, it’s not hard work”. “The
financial rewards will come because you’ll be better at it” (O’Brien, 2007: 150).
2. Do market research: This is an important part to make certain that customers would buy
the product or service from you. Internet and state/ local libraries are good sources to evaluate
product/ service’s newness, analyse competitors, find suppliers, setting price, investigating
trademarks and testing the potential customers in the market. Mumpreneurs are encouraged to do
full of research to study the local or international market to stay competitive (Parlapiano and
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 25
Cobe, 2007). In high income country like Australia, the survey found that more than half of
early-stage entrepreneurs expect to face many competitors (Allen et al., 2006).
3. Go niche with your business plan: You don’t just jump into the franchise or business
opportunities. The focus business should distinguish and “fit-in” with the talents and skills.
Evaluation includes finding an attractive business niche, setting objective, mission/ vision
statement, business goals, marketing, earning expectations (start-up costs, budgeting, turnovers,
and taxations). Assistance accountant or attorney can help to project cash flow, work out
financing, and plan on patent fees including insurance (Parlapiano and Cobe, 2007). Through the
studies, it is found that all successful Mumpreneurs had their business plan before going into the
market. They understand that businesses counting from start-up can take three to five years to
4. It’s the brand image: Trade marking protects the brand name to be unique. It is an
ongoing marketing that includes several methods of promotion and advertisement. Mumpreneurs
should target the market for their products or services and make sure to list their business names
in such local newspapers, related magazines and telephone books. Building the “brand” also
requires repetitive marketing for people to remember. A memorable name and well-designed
publishing materials make the business outstands. Having business cards, Mumpreneurs can
promote their businesses while attending local women’s business events, community centres or
wherever they go. A good website displays logo with navigation that is user-friendly. Contents
should contain good comments from satisfied customers, press releases and recent news as well
as links from other web sites to boost traffic (Parlapiano and Cobe, 2007).
5. Support from spouse and family: Family capital is the “Relationship between children
and parents and, when families include other members’, relationships with them as well”
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 26
(Coleman, 1988: S110; cited in Allen et al., 2007: 33). Constant family support has a positive
and strong impact on the chance of becoming and continuing to be Mumpreneurs. On average,
women with family base size from six people and above have higher chances of becoming an
entrepreneur (Allen et al., 2007). Family support is a must, especially a support from spouse is
very important in term of taking care of the babies or offering business and emotional support.
Spouse must understand that there may be some changes in role and expectations as well as
giving encouragement to their wives to raise their confidence.
Doily Couture’s Sarina Tomchin, the founder of fashionable sleepwear as well as a 41-
year-old mum says “My husband, Michael, has taken over a lot of the grocery shopping, helping
with the girl’s homework and all the driving around for their extra-curricular activities”
(O’Brien, 2007: 152). This is about how a couple, in entrepreneurial activity, intimates and finds
the balance between work and family life.
6. Remember your objective: “Moms have critical entrepreneurial skills such as patience,
stamina and persistence” says Tamara Monosoff, author of The Mom Inventors Handbook.
“They know how to prioritize and are master schedulers” (Dver, 2006). This is about time
management. Mumpreneurs should keep a schedule and prioritize their tasks. The key point is
about remembering the goal – the most important aspect in life, the kids and family. Afterwards,
you can shape your business around the kids, work out the daily task on which needed done first
and complete them in order. Being motivated and organized or even multi-tasking are important
while taking roles of a mother and being one’s own boss.
Mumpreneurs have to protect work and family time, as otherwise there will be no
boundary unless you put in there. You have to separate and set working hours as child-free time,
for instance children’s nap time, and do not overwork on the weekend. Considering few days of
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 27
childcare, dividing household duties to spouse, housekeepers, part time assistant or part time
nanny can help to sort out the time, maintain family balance and give customers the assistances
they need. You can be more productive, stress-free and able to concentrate on the work much
better when the kids are well taken care of (Parlapiano and Cobe, 2007). “It was my mum who
said, you’re cleaning the bathroom in between everything else – this is crazy, you need to get a
housekeeper” says Katie May of kidspot.com.au (O’Brien, 2007: 152).
7. Build your own networks: Social capital is “the ability of actors to secure benefits by
virtue of membership in social networks or other social structures” (Portes, 1998: 6). The
literature reviews that social capital enhances higher life satisfaction and healthier mentality.
This social network that includes other entrepreneurs also increases the likelihood for a mother to
become Mumpreneurs. It is also found that that being employed allows women greater access to
resources, social capital, and ideas that may assist in developing new venture. The percentage of
employed women engaging in early entrepreneurial activity is as high as 74.3 compared to 21.6
for those who is not working (Allen et al., 2007). They seem to have more confident and skills to
proactively look for market opportunities.
Thus, it is vital to develop connections with co-workers, customers and other mothers
through online and face-to-face networks. Mumpreneurs can join in associations, professional
organizations, women’s business groups and online message boards/ chat or forum to be in the
community relevant to their businesses. Having social network and peer support builds a stronger
community between women to share ideas and information like lesson-learned, help each other
in developing knowledge and skills required to start up and maintain the businesses as well as
marketing the products without expenses (Parlapiano and Cobe, 2007). Kidspot.com.au is one of
the businesses that found its partnership through networking.
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 28
8. Seek resources and knowledge: Male entrepreneurs may seek out their own ways to
reach their business goal, whereas women entrepreneurs will look for help and support to
achieve the objective (Druxman, 2007). Greater household income means greater likelihood for
women to be involved in managing and owning a business (Allen et al., 2007). But not everyone
will have enough savings to establish the business. Many non-profit organizations and online
community, for instance BiB, provide resources and expertise to help Mumpreneurs to maximise
their success to start the business. Resources include financing and easy-to-use calculators,
mentoring, marketing and technology tools that Mumpreneurs need. Another good Australian
website is www.showmummythemoney.com.au, which acts as an online community offering
interesting articles, great advices for mothers going in or already in business. Additionally,
Women’s Business Centres is a community-based centre which provides education, training, and
technical assistance for women entrepreneurship. Their programs are available in Australia and
many other countries, specializing to women’s interests to best suit their needs to build
relationships and networks nationally, access to opportunities and role modeling.
There are several books for Mumpreneurs. The Mom Inventors Handbook: How to Turn
Your Great Idea into the Next Big Thing by Tamara Monosoff also offers useful steps and advice
for putting Ideas into I do. It also includes guideline for product development from ideas to
market research, manufacturing, licensing til product launch. Trillion-Dollar Moms: Marketing
to a New Generation of Mothers is another book for Mumpreneurs who target other mums, by
Bailey and Bonnie Ulman. This book integrates the strategies to study buying behaviours of
today’s mothers and marketing tactics. Moms Business Magazine is another resource for
Mumpreneurs to fill up their knowledge. Such magazine can provide how-to and easy-to-follow
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 29
guide to start up and develop a new business venture. Furthermore, Working Mother is published
countrywide to helping Mumpreneurs to enjoy their work and family lives (Druxman, 2007).
Regardless of how Mumpreneurs seek resources to start the businesses, the great aspect
to remember is that someone else has experienced all those challenges before you (Druxman,
2007). Hence, this requires for Mumpreneurs to rely upon more than ambition, self-motivated
and a good idea.
9. Deliver every promise: The reality is there is no secret in this world. Mumpreneurs
should be honest with clients and contacts about family commitments. They should be honest
with families about running the business and not to hide the fact that they are mothers. Cuddle
Fish’s Caroline Hume, the founder of the global company selling kids-buoyancy product says
“People are understanding if you are upfront with them and if you get your orders out on time
and have a good product” (O’Brien, 2007: 151). Mumpreneurs can earn the respect by being
professional business women and quality mothers.
10. Managing business growth: The business can just grow along as your kids grow.
Mumpreneurs need to streamline the Internet-based/ business processes, and recruit extra people
to delegate tasks and keep the work family balance. Cathy Slatter, a 32-years-old mother of 6
months-old daughter and the owner of corporate cake-delivery service from home, says “The
main drawback is the danger of getting too big because you can’t keep saying ‘no’ to new
clients. It’s maintaining a nice rate of growth so you can still stay at home. If that doesn’t
happen, you then ask yourself why you were doing it” (Herald Sun, 2007: 2). Julie Hanies, a 32-
years-old mother of 8 months-old daughter and the owner of InviteMe — a personalised
invitations for children’s birthday and events, says “You have to be mindful of why we’ve done
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 30
this, to spend time at home with our babies, not build a big business” (Herald Sun, 2007: 3).
Eventually, it is not about money. It is all about being a mother first.
This section examines the emerging trend of Mumpreneurs, particularly in Australia. The
underlying motivation for women entrepreneurs is the desire to help the overall community,
environment or disadvantaged groups in society. Increasing numbers of Mumpreneurs and the
rapid growth of their businesses have shown no reason why a mother cannot succeed as an
entrepreneur. Women have the capabilities of breaking through the obstacles that hinder their
business developments. Nevertheless, the rate of opportunity entrepreneurship and level of
confidence to start a business successfully for men is remarkably outperforming that of women.
A Significant gender gap still exists between countries as men believe themselves to have
sufficient knowledge and skills for operating a business.
Global and domestic economic prosperity will be successful and sustained when all
citizens regardless of gender are proactive and empowered in entrepreneurial activities. Political,
legal and cultural factors also directly manipulate the development of the activities of the
country. This calls for a change in business environment, social institutions and government to
better support women being Mumpreneurs to develop their social and financial capital, and
boosting self-confidence to establish the business. All in all, increasing the likelihood of starting
a business is very much underpinned by a high level of self-confidence and opportunity
identification. Thus, the position of the Mumpreneurs within the larger community is critical as it
affects their capability to study role models and obtain resources. The policies should be
customised to local context. More effective programs aimed at supporting Mumpreneurs would
allow them to be more optimistic about their own ability, have greater valuable knowledge,
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 31
networking opportunities and more role models to guide the way in exploiting market
A better understanding of the potential contribution of Mumpreneurs to the world’s well-
being and social equity will frame the importance of designing more satisfactory programs to
enhance their participation in the market. As Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus
states “Economic growth and political democracy cannot achieve their full potential unless the
female half of humanity participates on an equal footing with the male” (SPIEGEL, 2006).
We invite academics, entrepreneurs and practitioners to further enhance the research and
study of this significant phenomenon, the Mumpreneurs. Furthermore, with the emergence of
more and more males accepting the childcare role of “stay-at-home-Dads”, research into this
phenomenon may well introduce a new phenomenon of “Dadpreneurs”. It will be interesting to
see similarities (and differences) between genders within the Mumpreneurs and Dadpreneur
Allen, E., Elam, A., Langowitz, N., & Dean, M., (2007). Report on Women and
Entrepreneurship. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. BABSON.
Allen E., Langowitz, N., & Minniti, M., (2006). Report on Women and Entrepreneurship.
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. BABSON.
Alstete, J.W. (2003). “On becoming an entrepreneur: an evolving typology”, International
Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research; 8 (4), 222-34.
Babaeva, L. And Chirikova, A. (1997), “Women in business”, Russian Social Science Review;
38 (3), 81-92.
Birley, S. (1989). Female Entrepreneurs: Are They Really Any Different? Journal of Small
Business Management; 27 (1), 32-37.
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 32
Bower, A. (2005, April 25). Meet the Mompreneurs. TIME, Available at:
date: 17 November 2008)
Brush, C.G. (1992), “Research on women business owners: past trends, a new perspective
and future directions”, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice; 16 (4), 5.
Brush, C.G. (1997), “Women-owned businesses: Obstacles and opportunities.” Journal of
Developmental Entrepreneurship; 2 (1), 1-24.
Carter, S. And Rosa, P. (1998), “The financing of male- and female-owned businesses”,
Entrepreneurship and Research Development; 10 (3), 225-41.
Craig, J. & Lindsay, N.J. (2002). Incorporating the family dynamic into the entrepreneurship
process. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development; 9 (4), 416-430.
Cromie, S. (1987). “Motivations of aspiring make and female entrepreneurs”, Journal of
Occupational Behaviour; 8 (2), 251-61.
Cunniffe, P. (2006, February 16). Body Shop to put Babes in Business; Enterprise Learning
for the 21
Century. Australian Government: department of Education, Science and
Training, Available at: http://www.dest.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/811FE428-FB38-4118-
87A6-AE68A572D1B2/17945/BodyShoptoputBabesinBizness.pdf (Access date: 25
Davis, P. (1983). “Realizing the potential of family businesses”, Organizational Dynamics,
12 (1), 47-56.
Druxman, L. (2007, January 23). Top Resources for Mompreneurs. Entrepreneur.com,
uxman/article173566.html (Access date: 28 November 2008).
Dver, A. (2006, October). Maternal Instinct: Mompreneurs have the skills it takes to raise
kids—and new businesses. Entrepreneur’s StartUps, Available at:
(Access date: 27 November 2008).
Eveline, J. (1999) “Men, Work and Family: Australian Scenes” paper delivered to Women’s
Worlds 99: 7
International Congress of Women’s Research, Tromso, Norway, June
Fielden, S.L., Davidson, M.J., Dawe, A.J. & Makin, P.J. (2003), “Factors inhibiting the
economic growth of female-owned small businesses in North West England”, Journal
of Small Business and Enterprise Development; 10 (2), 152-66.
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 33
Flood, M. (2003) “Fatherhood and Fatherlessness,” Discussion Paper Number 59, November
2003. The Australia Institute.
Greene, P.G., Hart M.M., Gatewood, E.J., Brush, C.G. & Carter, N.M. (2003) “Women
Entrepreneurs: Moving Front and Center: An Overview of Research and Theory,”
Consortium for Liberal Education and Entrepreneurship, College of Charleston and E.M.
Kauffman Foundation. Available at
23 November 2008)
Harris, C., Morrison, R., Ho, M & Lewis, K. (2008). Mumpreneurs: Mothers in the Business of
Babies. Proceedings from the Australia and New Zealand Academy of Management
Conference, Auckland, New Zealand (December)
Herald Sun (2007, April 21) Tougher economic Herald Sun, Weekend section, Available at:
http://www.mediamonitors.com.au/amex/20070425112625.pdf (Access date: 15
Ibarra, H. (1993), “Personal networks of women and minorities in management: a conceptual
framework”, Academy of Management Review; 18 (1), 56-88.
Kuchment, A. (2006, September 25). “Moms Mean Business”, Newsweek Business,
Available at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14869069/site/newsweek/ (Access date: 28
Maritz, P.A. (2004). TriNations Entrepreneurial Scorecard. The International Journal of
Entrepreneurship and Small Business (IJESB), 1(3/4), pp230-237. ISSN 1476-1297.
Maritz, P.A. (2007). Mumpreneurs, Live interview on Channel 10 (National LIVE TV program),
09h05, 2 May, Melbourne.
McClelland, E., & Swail, J. (2005). Following the pathway of female entrepreneurs: A six-
country investigation, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research;
11 (2), 84-107.
McKay, R. (2001), “Women entrepreneurs: moving beyond family ad flexibility”,
International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research; 7 (4), 148-65.
Moore, D.P. (2003), “Women: Are you Ready to Be Entrepreneurs”, Business and Economic
Review, January-March, Available at:
a96a00-4a9b-42f9-8bc8-9d6793c79a73%40sessionmgr108 (Access: 30 November 2008)
Nelson, G.W. (1987), “Information needs of female entrepreneurs”, Journal of Small
Business Management; 25 (1), 38-44.
The International Journal of Organizational Innovation Vol 3 Num 1 Summer 2010 34
Nelton, S. (1998). “Women’s firms thrive”, Nation’s Business, August, Available at:
1 (Access: 26 November 2008)
O’Brien, K. (2007, May). Mums mean Business. ww entrepreneurs magazine, pp. 149-52.
O’Gorman, C. (2001), “The sustainability of growth in small and medium-sized enterprises”,
International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research; 7 (2), 60-75.
Orhan, M. & Scott, D. (2001). “Why women enter into entrepreneurship: an explorative
model”, Women in Management Review; 16 (5), 232-47.
Parlapiano, E.H. & Cobe P. (2007) 10 Steps to Starting Up, Mompreneurs Online, Available
at: http://www.mompreneursonline.com/articles/10steps.html (Access date: 18 November
Pocock, B. (2005) Work/Care Regimes: Institutions, Culture and Behaviour and the
Australian Case, Gender, Work and Organization, January; 12 (1), 32-49.
Portes, A. (1998) Social Capital: Its Origins and Applications in Modern Sociology. Annual
Review of Sociology; 24 (1), 1-24.
Rosa, P., Carter, S. & Hamilton, D. (1996), “Gender as a determinant of small business
performance: insights from a British study”, Small Business Economics; 8, 463-78.
SPIEGEL (2006, October, 13). “Banker to the Poor” Gets Top Honour; Nobel Peace Prize
2006, SPIEGEL Online International, Available at
http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,442449,00.html (Access date: 22 November
Studdert, J (2007, April, 27). Mums give birth to a business: The Body Shop is giving young
mothers a head start in business, The Australian Newspaper, Entrepreneur, pp. 6.
Weiler, S. & Bernasek, A. (2001), “Dodging the glass ceiling? Networks and the new wave
of women entrepreneurs?” The Social Science Journal; 38 (2001), 85-103.