Last weekend, a host of mothers who have started their own businesses, better known as “mumpreneurs”, gathered in Sydney for the 2011 AusMumpreneur of the Year Awards.
They represented start-ups with offerings as diverse as baby products, stationery and jewellery, underlining the increasing clout of mumpreneurs within Australia’s small business landscape.
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A study conducted at the Queensland University of Technology in 2010 found that just under half of all small-scale business start-ups in Australia were founded by women.
When it comes to starting up their own ventures, women do so at twice the rate of men, according to BankWest research released last June.
Julia Bickerstaff, founder of consultancy the Business Bakery says that starting a business is now a “proper alternative” to going back to work for a lot of mothers
“Because of the internet and with so many mums doing it, a lot of support structures are in place,” she says.
Bickerstaff is keen to point out that the trend isn’t just a reaction against the rigidness of modern corporate life.
“It’s a lot more positive than that,” she insists.
“Lots of women want to set up own businesses and can identify gaps in the market. Now it’s actually possible to do it.”
“That wasn’t a possibility 25 years ago – it was hard to figure out how to get things made and how to sell them.”
“It was all very onerous and involved a lot of travel. Now, you can sit in your home and organise for something to be manufactured in China to sell in America.”
Bickerstaff says the most common mistake made by mumpreneurs is that of “starting a business someone else is already doing very well and not being different enough.”
Bickerstaff says that many mum are setting up online retail businesses, which can be hard to maintain given how price-sensitive they are. This is particularly the case if a business only sells one thing.
StartupSmart caught up with a few of the winners of the AusMumpreneur awards to ask them what lessons they would pass on to other mothers thinking of starting their own business.