• Mon, Oct 3 2011

I Hate ‘Mompreneurs’ But I Support Women In Business

What’s the difference between a ‘mompreneur’ and a normal business-owner? No, this isn’t a riddle. Professionally speaking, there shouldn’t be any difference at all. ‘Mompreneurs’ are supposed to be running a business. They produce or sell a product, market it to their consumer and try to make a profit. So why do they need a cutesy moniker?

Some would say that it helps mom-owned businesses advertise to their target market. It helps women recognize those products that were made by other moms. It separates these businesses from the multitude of other competitors.

Ya know what else it does? It marginalizes them. It treats them like they aren’t “real” companies. In a world where business-owners are expected to prove total dedication to their product, their possible-stockholders and their bottom line, it makes sure that everyone knows that these women have other priorities.

Being a ‘mompreneur’ might communicate your understanding of mothers and their day-to-day struggles, but a coherent marketing strategy can do the same thing. In fact, every so-called perk of being a “mompreneur” can be accomplished in normal business terms within a traditional entrepreneurial model. At our sister-site Mommyish, I wrote about Toddler Tech USA’s Michelle Cazella, who talked about the support that mom-owned businesses show each other and the ways that they reach out into the community to help establish themselves. Cazella made this sound like some new-found system that moms were creating, except every businessperson should be familiar with networking and its advantages.

Jockey Person to Person, one of the newest to enter the direct sales model a la Pampered Chef, Pure Romance and a whole host of other make-up and accessories companies, sells it’s business as an opportunity that “gives mothers the possibility to be a stay-at-home mom with a successful business too.” I can understand why this type of sales pitch is used when Jockey is trying to recruit representatives. It lets women know that the opportunity won’t take up too much of their time. It makes the entire business seem like a personal hobby, which might just make them a little cash. Where’s the negative there?

Well, once you get past the initial pitch from Jockey, continuing on with the “mompreneur” title lets your customers and competitors know that your business is a side-job, instead of something you take seriously. Even worse, the name “mompreneur” is being used outside these part-time sales-party opportunities. It’ is being applied to every business that happens to be owned by a woman with children. And then we wonder why female start-ups aren’t always taken seriously! We’re allowing them to be lumped in with women who sell candles to their friends and family. Is it really so amazing that investors don’t want to risk giving capital to “mompreneurs”?

I noticed the same confusion when I started telling people that I write for a website called Mommyish. Anyone who hears the word “mommyblog” automatically assumes that I’m sharing cute stories about my day and updating extended family about doctor’s visits. No one realizes that I actually get paid or that I occasionally write about something other than my daughter’s propensity for superheroes (though I certainly work that in when I can). Mommyblogs are seen as part-time amusement for stay-at-home moms, just like being a “mompreneur” is believed to be a weekend gig for spare spending money.

Women in business are working hard to prove that we need to be taken seriously and that we can be successful whether we have children or not. We don’t need a demeaning nickname to set our progress back. Any accomplished “mompreneur” is really just a business-owner who happens to have children, and she shouldn’t marginalize herself right off the bat.

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  • Frances

    My husband and I both run our own separate businesses, and more than once has some well meaning person called me a mompreneur, but no one has ever called him a dadpreneur.

    It really is as if what he does is a “real’ job, and what I do is a side job, meanwhile we both make similar money. It’s frustrating, and insulting.

  • Joy

    I’m all for mothers trying to earn money but if I were to buy something from anyone who referred to themselves as a “mompreneur” it would be more out of pity than anything else and I’d fully expect it to arrive late, slightly crumpled and covered in baby slobber. Rightly or wrongly, that’s pretty much what the word conjures up for me.

    I’m a freelance website developer (married, no kids) who works from home and I think sometimes people are surprised to find I spend all day at home without any toddlers underfoot to justify my lack of a ‘real’ job. Clearly since I don’t run around after kids, I must watch tv all day, what else could I conceivably be doing?

    People don’t seem to realise that managing a successful business requires a lot more time and effort than a fulltime caregiver of young kids can possibly have at their disposal.

  • Stefania

    I never really thought about it until reading this article, but you are right, the terms is marginalizing. Women have worked so long to be taken seriously, and here we are again, having our work portrayed as side-hobbies.

  • Ann-Marie @momstownca

    I really like this article and relate. What I do like about the ‘mompreneur’ world is it allows you to take your business at your own pace — however, as a result often the businesses then don’t grow fast enough to make a serious profit, which means many women close these businesses. I recently wrote a blog about the “disposable mom entrepreneur” which got a lot of feedback (good & bad) along the same lines as yours.
    http://momstown-moments.momstown.ca/node/359

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  • Jen Ohrman

    Wow…that was insightful…and now I need to change my thought process about this…I get it…and I am amazed that I never looked at it that way…hmm….time to re-think my business strategy and my website http://www.inpowermoms.com Thanks for a great piece.

  • Jen Ohrman

    Wow…that was insightful…and now I need to change my thought process about this…I get it…and I am amazed that I never looked at it that way…hmm….time to re-think my business strategy and my website http://www.inpowermoms.com Thanks for a great piece.