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Mumpreneurs seem to be the big thing of the moment. There are a number of books out about them as publishers have woken up to the demand from working mums for advice and support around doing something that makes life with children just a bit more manageable. One, reviewed here, is Mum Ultrapreneur by Susan Odev and Mark Weeks.
In recent years there has been a huge growth in “mumpreneurs” due to better technology, meaning it is relatively cheap and easy to set up a website and work from home, and to an increased need or desire for women to earn while they look after small children.
Everyone I talk to seems to have mulled over at some time or other the possibility of setting up their own business in order to have the freedom to fit all the various school holidays and inset days around work or to cut down on childcare costs.
One of the recent batch of books on mumpreneurs is Susan Odev and Mark Weeks’ Mum Ultrapreneur, which boils down the “secrets” to starting your own business into eight steps, summed up by the work SPARKLES – which stands for Simplicity, Passion, Action, Relationships, Knowing, Learning, Enthusiasm and Self Belief.
The aim is to give a straightforward guide which will inspire women to go down the mumpreneur path.
The book certainly makes it look relatively easy and, since confidence is a major barrier for women becoming businesswomen, that is important. It is divided into several parts.
The introduction is a kind of pep talk from the authors. It is a little starry-eyed about women, for my liking, particularly on Weeks’ part.
Perhaps this is just me downplaying my various achievements as a woman, but I can see that the intention is to make women feel that, basically, they can do anything. Indeed, later on in the book, in a section of interviews with mumpreneurs, one businesswoman says:
“I think becoming a mum made me realise that I could do so much more than I had imagined. Because it was so much harder than I thought it would be, and so all of a sudden I realised that the impossible is actually possible.”
Many women think the same. When you are suddenly plunged into the whole work life balance thing, your previous life of just working and living seems so easy peasy so you start thinking surely there are more challenges you could overcome.
Before the interviews is a fictional segment where the story of a mum, Gemma, is related in novel-style as she tackles the closure of her business, divorce and pregnancy and re-emerges as a successful entrepreneur.
It is an interesting way of tackling the whole issue of helping women identify with the issues they might face as a mumpreneur and it is certainly very readable.
After the interviews with a whole range of mumpreneurs comes a case study and finally a practical questionnaire section which talks you through the whole starting off process.
The main problem for many women is thinking what their entrepreneurial idea is and the questions help get the creative juices flowing. I tried it on my daughter, aged 10, and she came up with several business ideas.
The section follows the whole SPARKLES format – start with a simple idea that you feel passionately about, make an action plan, build a support network whether family or friends or other businesswomen, trust your instinct, be open to learning new things [you will be on a steep learning curve], keep your enthusiasm up by, for instance, surrounding yourself with positive people or celebrating every success and believe in yourself.
There are links to organisations which can help and a list of other mumpreneur type books. There is a tendency to fall into self-help speak, which some may find a bit off putting.
For instance, there is a section on how you should look in the mirror and tell yourself what a great woman/businesswoman/mother etc you are.
This kind of thing may or may not work, but it is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. However, it cannot be denied that the book has its heart in the right place and will leave you feeling that setting up your own business is not the huge hurdle you may once have thought.
Mum Ultrapreneur by Susan Odev and Mark Weeks is published by Bookshaker