Did you know that one third of business owners in Australia are women? That’s 668,670 women. Research has shown that for many women, starting a business provides the flexibility to work from home, the opportunity to pursue a passion and the ability to better juggle work and family commitments.
Over the past two decades, the number of female-run small businesses has grown by 46 per cent – a growth rate that is almost double that of men starting their own businesses over the same period of time.
We have all heard the term ‘mumpreneur’ in recent times – you will even find it in the English dictionary.
According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, home-based businesses are one of the fastest-growing business sectors in Australia, and mothers of young children are up to three times more likely to be self-employed than other working women.
As a former small business owner, I understand the long hours it can take to run your own business and have the utmost respect for any mother or father who can run a business while being the primary caregiver for young children.
While the emergence of the mumpreneur has been credited with driving small business growth in Australia, new research from the University of Sydney business school has found that despite self-employment being presented as a lifestyle choice, it is often a last resort.
The research suggests that some mothers feel forced into self-employment due to the high cost of childcare, inflexible work schedules or discriminatory attitudes towards part-time and flexible work hours in the workplace.
While self-employment can create greater levels of flexibility for women, it can come with a long list of challenges.
These can include limited access to capital, lack of networking opportunities, little confidence to grow a business and inability to contribute to superannuation.
If you’re thinking about starting a business, it’s a good idea to invest time in creating a detailed, well-structured business plan to give you direction and help your business become a success.
Business planning is an ongoing activity. Regularly reviewing your business plan and keeping it up to date can help you to identify roadblocks and find solutions to address them.
You’ll find a checklist and business planning template, as well as many other online resources, at business.gov.au – a fantastic website that contains information, assistance, forms and services you need to plan, start and grow your business.
Do your research
Before you take the leap and start a home-based business, I encourage you to do your research, to be aware of the challenges you might encounter and to find mentors, role models and networks that help you to overcome barriers, share knowledge and build the confidence you need to grow your business.
Running your own business can be extremely rewarding – I certainly found it that way – but it is important to get the right advice.
Kate Carnell is the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.