There are so many stories about college dropouts who start out in a garage, strike gold and go on to build billion-dollar empires. All of them are, strangely, men. Women billionaires never start out in the garage; they almost always inherit it, barring the few women from showbiz. When stories about starting up with a baby bump or toddler in tow emerge, it is dismissed as just another hobby or a ‘business on the side’ started ‘because she has a babysitter’!
The term ‘mompreneurs’ may sound clichéd, but there exists today a generation of new mums who are turning entrepreneurs by choice because it’s finally time to follow that idea through and do what they have been wanting to do for years.
How can you ignore the hundreds of micro SMEs run by mums in the ecosystem, today? For example, the home chefs and home bakers taking on the multi-million dollar restaurant industry?
When Marissa Mayer went back to work two weeks after giving birth, the press thought it was a bad example or a desperate move. But who really are we to judge? A career is as much a personal choice as motherhood is.
In India,women typically go the entrepreneurship way when they finally find their calling. Sometimes in search of an identity, sometimes in need of a second beginning.
More and more women are taking their will to make a difference very seriously and are doing so significantly. Take the example of Priya Maheshwari of Properji, who faced a lot of trouble finding a home and, recognising the gap, launched Properji in Bengaluru. Or Ajaita Shah, who started Frontier Markets to help low-income households obtain products of clean energy, health and sanitation.
Mothers see the world through a different lens and that is many a times reflected in the kind of businesses they start. CoYo was a vegan yoghurt brand that was started by a pregnant mum that became UK’s first health snack for pregnant mums. NordickMama created the first training shapewear for women. While we were all looking elsewhere, these mums have actually set up profitable business models that meet needs invisible to you or me but significant enough to propel them to an instant hit.
What motivates these women? And the biggest question that follows – Is there a future for such a startup?
Here are five reasons why a mompreneur-run business is bound to grow
1. Nurturing an idea to growth: These are women who are prioritising their time, money and energy in a startup. They believe what they are pursuing has a future. A future as bright and beautiful as those they are dreaming for their children. Dismissing the goals and roadmaps of such an organisation and what they stand for may be the Goliath’s failing.
2. Fuelled by fire: A secret dismissal of sorts awaits a woman going on her maternity break. If you are successful and expecting, planning begins in the rung above you and below you as you bask in the glory of your first trimester. A replacement or role dissolution are most often the only two options that await you once you return. People assume you want to spend more time at home, or you cannot perform your tasks like before. It’s the never the same for a new dad though. Nobody waits for the woman to make that choice. But with more women entrepreneurs entering the scene, hopefully the organisations of tomorrow will be starkly different.
3. That pregnant pause: While pregnancy is a time when women are asked to relax. It also becomes their time to re-evaluate life, think fresh, and think creative. Clarity of concept, socio-economic goal driven agendas and community building are typical traits of organisations run by moms, as they also draw power from support groups and individuals who share their vision. In India, the biggest support starts at home, with mothers-in-law and mothers stepping in as caregivers for the child. There are also support groups such as JAMMs, which is a WhatsApp group of over 10,000 women in Mumbai. Often, a single idea broadcasted in these groups garners help from women who simply believe in your idea.
4. Unlearning to learn: Your learning quotient becomes very high once you become a mother. Every single day you unlearn what you knew, start afresh and look at the same thing with a vision that simplifies it for an innocent mind. Isn’t that what it takes to appreciate, grow and nurture creativity at the workplace? Communicating simply, without aggression and yet being persistent while tackling the toughest questions and demands becomes my most valuable weapon and my one year old’s quest for the TV remote my biggest training exercise at it.
Women bosses at the workplace tend to inspire. Be it Aruna Rao, CTO at Kotak Mahindra Bank or Padmini Sharathkumar, Head of Biz Enablement at Intellect – women I have seen in action very closely, inspire and have the power and pulse to influence an entire generation at their workplace. And all with a smile.
5. Delegation is essential: A mompreneur knows her priorities. She learns to delegate and seek help very early on in her journey to a great company. With learning to delegate comes the learning to motivate. This goes a long way in creating a culture of winning, where everyone feels empowered and committed.
Mompreneurs are waiting in the wings for the startup ecosystem to finally acknowledge them. There are those who turned entrepreneurs after years of being homemakers and raising children and those who are quitting high-profile corporate jobs to taste the thrill of starting up. Then there are those moms who ace their 9-to-5 jobs but seek solace in entrepreneurship. No matter how big or small she starts, there is that special place for the mum in every boardroom and ideation station. Having a baby at home doesn’t make her dreams any less significant or goals any distant.