Mandy Garner of WorkingMums.co.uk shares insight about how and why working mums represent such a large proportion of self-employed in the UK.
Sharon Brogden has a success story worth sharing. Sacked from her job while pregnant, Sharon fought against unfair dismissal and almost lost her baby due to the stress. After giving birth and finding she was unable to return to work, Sharon then went into serious debt.
Six years later, after a lot of hard work, she is now running an international voiceover business with a £360,000 turnover from her back bedroom in West Yorkshire.
Not all mums in business have quite as dramatic a story, but most have a story of how they have attempted to change their lives through starting up their own business.
Working mums are the fastest growing group in the self-employed arena, whether that is setting up their own businesses, going freelance, becoming an interim manager or starting a franchise.
Workingmums.co.uk’s Business Zone, which provides advice and inspiration for mums in business, has interviewed dozens of mums who have set up their own businesses and the variety is huge, as is the way that people work. We found that the reasons behind why so mums have decided to become self-employed; top of the list, however, is the desire to have a more flexible working pattern and to have more control over how, when, and where they work.
One gift company, Pip’s Garden, is run by two neighbours – Lucy Banks and Pip Raud – who have children of similar ages and were both looking to start a business. They worked around their children and had playdates at each other’s houses so that one of them could do calls while the other looked after the kids.
Other mums in business have pre-empted having children and set up their business just before becoming pregnant. Many have been made redundant while others just can’t see how they can return to a job which required regular travel across the globe.
What they tend to have in common is the feeling that post-baby, their whole approach to life has turned upside down and they have started to question what it is that really drives them.
Setting up your own business, however, is no easy option and all the mums who we have interviewed have had to learn a whole range of new skills, from budgeting to setting up a website, as well as put in the hours necessary to build the business, particularly in the early days.
Then there are the inevitable setbacks to contend with.
But despite these setbacks, an increasing number of women are finding that the hard work is well worth it in the end. With the right advice and support, often from other mums in business, they can do something they feel passionately about and have the flexibility to be around for their children.