A chat with Mums & Co co-founder Carrie Kwan about the importance of the Mums & Co Australian Mums In Business Report.
Mums in business are a vital but often overlooked part of our economy. More needs to be done to support her. Mums & Co is a business mum’s online village and we are here to help her thrive. We commissioned this report because we wanted to know her better, really understand her needs, so that we can support and help her more effectively.
Do you believe the number will rise for Australian mums in business?
In one word ‘yes’.
Women are facing workplace inflexibility (nearly half surveyed started their own business as working for someone else was not viable), unequal pay and increasing childcare costs.
The OECD’s recent report into gender shows women are still lagging behind in pay due to women’s disproportionate responsibility to provide unpaid caregiving, combined with the cost of childcare. At the same time, the gig economy (part time/ contract work) is growing and technology now makes it easier than ever before to launch a business.
These findings indicate that Australian mums in business are taking back control of what’s important to them. So we believe the number of mums in business is set to rise in the near future.
How important is this statistic to the Australian economy?
Mums in Business are our hidden workforce and a significant part of our economy. It’s time they are better acknowledged and better supported.
Australia’s 300,000 plus business owner mothers represent one sixth of all small businesses. In addition, of those who employ staff, on average employ 4–5 staff, so in total, they generate income for over half a million Australians.
Enabling more mothers to work on their own businesses means that they can balance the things that are important to them — the time to spend with their children when they most need it, the flexibility to raise families as well as achieve their ambitions.
When doing meaningful work women have seen both their incomes and levels of self-reported happiness increase. Their business means they are more than just a mum. They get great satisfaction from being an entrepreneur and successful business woman.
What results surprised you most from the Mums & Co Australian Mums in Business Report?
Most mums experience a sense of mummy guilt so I found it very surprising that the majority of business mums do not agree that they feel guilty that they have less time to spend with their children. In fact, an overwhelming 87 percent believe they are setting a good example for their kids.
Mums in Business are a hidden workforce — most (84%) don’t have staff; those who do on average employ four to five staff (mix of full time, part time, casual and contractors).
See an infographic of Australian Mums In Business here.
Can you describe the average Australian mum in business today?
The ‘average’ mum in business has two kids and is likely to be educated. Half of all business mums are between 30 and 39 years old. Most are in relationships but one in ten are single parents. Nearly a third are born overseas.
She’s taking back control of what’s important to her and she’s happier for it.
She is brave, remarkable and has that Aussie spirit of having a go. Going into business means leaving security behind and stepping into the unknown, and it’s even more daunting when it’s not just yourself you are looking after.
The stats at a glance…
- One third started their businesses while on parental leave, one in 10 started their businesses while pregnant, and 6 out of 10 mums who started their business this year have an infant or toddler.
- More than half have businesses in a completely new field to what they were doing before.
- 84% have no staff but of those who employ staff, on average they employ 4–5 staff, so she provides income for another 216,000 Australians.
- The majority have the support of a partner in looking after the kids (60%), while four in ten call on family members, and school and childcare centres are also popularly used by business mums.
What challenges do these working mums face? How does Mums & Co help them overcome these challenges?
The journey is not always easy — almost 50% feel being a mum has acted as a barrier to their business success and 50% also found starting a business very challenging. Our report found more and more are now turning to social media and networking groups to get the support they need.
Mums & Co is created specifically for the needs of mums in business so everything we do is geared towards helping them succeed and building a community of mothers in similar circumstances. We believe we are stronger together. Together we have the strength of community, better negotiating power and a pool of knowledge to draw on.
Our platform and events are a supportive, inclusive and safe space to make community connections. Don’t be afraid to ask other business mums for advice and support, because chances are, someone has already been there and done that. These connections also extend to sourcing information and talent.
As for what’s holding some back from launching a business, financial concerns a major barrier — one in two considerers believe that financial concerns act as a major barrier to them starting a business, both costs associated with setup and access to capital funding. Four in five considerers are concerned with the commerciality of their idea. They need guidance on all of the fundamentals of the business start-up process.
For women who are already are in business, the report found that they need more help with knowledge about finances, marketing and setting up businesses correctly.
Our knowledge sharing platform publishes quality articles to help with this gap, whereas Mums & Co perks and concierge partners give access to cheaper or free marketing services, legal and business set up products and services. Our simple business insurance package can also provide cover to protect your business.
Support with childcare is an obvious challenge. A majority have the support of a partner in looking after the kids (60%), while four in ten call on family members, and business mums also heavily rely on schools and childcare centres. Our access to Emergency Childcare helps provide last minute options when you need it most.
What advice do you have for mums in businesses and mums considering starting their own business?
Join and lean into a community of other like-minded mums like Mums & Co it’s really powerful having the strength of community and a pool of knowledge and resources to draw on. I would advise anyone starting a business to create a personal and professional network that they can lean on. And we’ve found that business mums tend to want to work with (or purchase from) other business mums too!