Is being an entrepreneur the modern working mums equivalent to selling Tupperware?

Growing up I had a stay at home mother, as did most of my friends. One friend from high school had a mother who worked at a bank four days a week. This was so far out of the norm for me that for years I assumed she was the Bank Manager as there could be no other explanation as to why she worked so much!

I admit that I had very few working women as role models when I was younger, but I have always been incredibly driven and ambitious. I guess that drive is part of my personality, because it wasn’t something that I witnessed and wanted to emulate as a child. Perhaps it was the lack of financial freedom and little money that my family had that has ensured that I want to avoid financial stress.

During the 80’s my own mother and her friends would often have side projects to give them ‘pocket money’ as they often referred to it. This was usually as part of a multi level marketing business such as Tupperware or Mary Kay. Some of these women were very successful with these businesses and continued with them long after the children had gone to school.

I started my business, The Tenant Company, when my daughter was a little over a year old, as working full time in my corporate job put a lot of pressure on my home life. The job was very demanding with little flexibility but I was paid well for it. I had the business plan done, the financial forecast and website up and running. I didn’t intend to earn the six figures that I previously had, but I anticipated that by working around my daughter I would still make a comfortable income. Fast forward two years and I will honestly say that the financial predictions I made have not eventuated. So what’s going on? I see entrepreneur’s spruiking themselves as having made a fortune almost overnight – how giving up the corporate world set them free (and let them tell you all about it – for a fee). Is it just me going through this?

Instead of beating myself up about this I approached a group of female entrepreneurs and asked the question “Who earns enough money from their business to support their family?” It might surprise you – perhaps it doesn’t – but most don’t. Most of these women are working to cover business overheads, pay staff or pay themselves ‘pocket money’.

So why do we do this to ourselves? With my own adventure into running a business, and sharing insights with other mothers doing similar I wonder

“Is Entrepreneurship the modern day equivalent of selling Tupperware?”

Why is it that women are busting their arses to run businesses that aren’t making any money? Some of the women I spoke with told me it gave them a level of freedom they wouldn’t otherwise have working for someone else. Others are laying the foundations of a good business whilst their children are young, with the intention of expanding on this when the children go to school. The very few who told me that their businesses are providing them with a substantial income are those that have been operating the business for a number of years and their children are now older.

It seems that some women are spending 4 -5 years running businesses making very little money instead of working part time for someone else because very few part time positions exist. These women are highly skilled and want to make a contribution to the work force, but their request for part time or flexible working hours aren’t being fulfilled.

I would love to know your thoughts on this topic. Do you think it is possible to pay yourself a market wage from a business whilst working flexible hours? Are we just working for ‘pocket money’. Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

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Kim Kardashian’s daughter North West is just like any other two year old – so why are grown men allowed to take photos of her?

This week I watched a video that disturbed me. That wasn’t the intent of the video, it was actually meant to be cute and funny, but instead it left me feeling concerned and compelled to write about it.

It was a video of a little two-year-old girl in her tutu on her way to ballet class. This little girl was surrounded by about twenty grown men calling out to her, taking her photo and filming her when she clearly didn’t want to be filmed. She can be heard saying, “I said no photos” and putting her hands up.

As the mother of a two year girl this video makes my skin crawl as I’m sure it would most other parents. How is taking a photo or video of somebody’s child without their permission ok? Even more so when the child clearly doesn’t want their photo taken.

Now, if I told you that little girl was North West, daughter of the world’s most famous celebrities Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, and the grown men with cameras were paparazzi would that change anything? Should it? Just because North’s parents choose to be famous, does that mean that she should be hounded and harassed by grown men? I wouldn’t think so. There is no registration to be a paparazzo so how does know the names of these men following a two year old? We know the great lengths they will go to take the photos – but who are they selling them to?

Imagine your child dealing with this every day
Imagine your child dealing with this every day

In 2013 Senate Bill 606 was passed in California, which made it illegal for any person to intentionally harass a child due to their parent’s occupation. The Bill was supported by high profile celebrities Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry, who have reported times where paparazzi, aka adult men, have sat outside their children’s school waiting for the child to come out. Whist the Bill seems like a step in the right direction, especially in a state where a high majority of celebrities reside, you have to wonder what effort would be required to actually prosecute under this law.

We’ve seen similar issues here in Australia recently, with Lara Bingle and husband Sam Worthington calling the police on paparazzi that were taking photos of their infant son. I can assure you that if a man were taking photos of my two-year-old daughter, having the police called would be the least of his problems!

Kim Kardashian with daughter North West. Pic Credit: Instagram
Kim Kardashian with daughter North West. Pic Credit: Instagram

The main argument from the paparazzi about taking photos of the children of celebrities is that ‘the public wants to see them’ which may be right, but shouldn’t we leave the decision of what photos are shared up to the parents? Kim Kardashian and her family share plenty about their lives, including photos of their children, and this should be enough to satisfy public curiosity. I for one do not want to see the video of a little girl being harassed by grown men on her way to a ballet class.

Next time you go to buy a magazine with photos of a celebrity’s child inside, consider how you would feel if that were your child. Perhaps if we stop feeding the beast, it might just stop snapping.

How to work from home with a toddler

Working from home with a child or children can be difficult, exhausting, inspiring and exhilarating! It all depends on how you manage it and of course what type of work you do. Being in charge of my calendar means that on the days I work from home I schedule calls at certain times when I’m least likely to have a toddler at my feet.

Whether you work from home full time, work for yourself, or your employer allows you to work from home, it’s all about being organised. I certainly don’t have it all worked out, but I am learning, and as time moves along so is Eva.

Eva doing her 'work'
Eva doing her ‘work’

She understands that when mummy is in the office on the computer she is working, and she also knows that I have an open door policy.

Here is what I’ve learnt over the past twelve months of working from home.

  • Your child will cry at the most inopportune time – usually during a phone call. Be open with those on the other end of the line that you are home with your child, as most people will understand and appreciate your honesty. I often say to clients, lawyers, real estate agents or whoever I’m on the phone to “I’m working from home today so I apologise now if you hear the nabber of my toddler in the background” This usually gets a giggle and the other person won’t be surprised if you suddenly have to put the phone down.
  • Be productive during the ‘quiet’ time. Eva still sleeps for around two to three hours of an afternoon (I might cry when she eventually drops this sleep), and during those hours I am more productive than the rest of the week! I also know that she loves to watch Doc McStuffins at 8am so here I am sitting at my desk hammering out this blog post before the show finishes at 8.30!
  • Use technology to your advantage. This is a topic that seems to elicit strong opinions from parents around the world, and people feel differently about this. We allow Eva to have an iPad and I give this to her at times during the day whilst I’m working. She is extremely proficient with it (she’s actually taught us a few things – I never knew you could switch between apps using four fingers) and we’ve downloaded a number of educational apps that she loves to play with it.
  • Try not to make your child hate your work. If Eva comes into the office whilst I’m on the computer I will stop what I’m doing and pay her some attention. Usually all she wants is some acknowledgement or a quick cuddle. The two minutes to look at a toy or have a little chat will be shorter than arguing with a toddler to let mummy finish her work.
  • Stop feeling guilty! Whatever your reasons are for working, own them and accept them. We put so much pressure on ourselves as it is; we need to stop the mummy guilt.

Do you work from home? What tips or advice do you have for other working parents?