Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mumpreneurs Rising

NOTE: I've always found it intriguing that mothers could actually juggle with both family and work, now with technology advancing this is no longer an impossible feat. Rather than just taking care of the family and resulting in a loss of income, mothers that actually use their time to make some cash and some are even able to make it into a very lucarative business form.

Other than taking care of their sons and daughters at home, playing mahjong with other tai tai s, hogging on the phone with friends, and waiting for their partners to bring home the dough, these mothers are making use of their time to do something more.

"Mumpreneurs" that's what we call them are now increasing in numbers. Below we shall introduce some of them to you.

Mums at work at home

By Amanda Tan

Just because you can blend something doesn't mean you should.
Or shouldn't You?

We definitely had some hits and misses. First the hits:

Mashed Potato Soup. I made up a batch of Idahoan brand instant mashed potatoes (Loaded Baked flavor), then I put a couple of spoonfuls in my little sieve and poured some prepared Lipton Onion soup over it. Lather, rinse, repeat. Alex loves onions, so this was pretty.

Butterscotch Pudding. Who doesn't love butterscotch pudding? I added an extra cup of milk so that it would be runnier and flow through a straw easier.

Advantages of Home Job Plus. Basically having able to work from home, you can have more time spent with your little ones in their growing ages.

Ivar's Crab Bisque. I just strained this - Alex got most of the creamy broth and I had a small bowl of all the good stuff with just a little bit of broth. Win win. The only downside here is the cost. Each 24 ounce container is close to $6.

And now for the misses:

Of course if there are success stories there are some failures as well (we shall not mention names), some are unable to cope or do not know how to create a website (if you need help on creating a website you can look for Azuma Higashi at at a affordable price, you do not need a fantastic website but a .com would be more professional looking if you're taking your business seriously)

Alex's favorite go-to meal is ramen noodles. You'd think they would be fine in a blender. You'd be wrong. I learned a bit about how starches start binding together in the blender. We'll give ramen another chance or two - but we'll wait a week or two and see if his suction improves.

Instant Oatmeal. I love oatmeal

Mum's at home - minding the little ones and also nurturing her own business. Take the case of Mrs Grace Tan, 35, who quit work two years ago to look after her two young children.
Asked why she did not opt for flexi-work, she said: "In my industry, you have to give your 100% commitment. I don't want to let anyone down at the workplace."

A software engineer for eight years, she found that she missed some of the fast-paced routine after she left, and decided to set up a home-based business last year.

Her online shop, Simple Thots, stocks products for other mums such as sandwich cutters and baby products from overseas. Like Mrs Tan, many other enterprising mothers have also become their own bosses at home, choosing to work at their own pace and earning the moniker "mumpreneur". Unlike entrepreneurs fixated on growing their business, mumpreneurs work around their children's schedules and often set aside specific "no work" periods.

As a result, these businesses tend to be run online from home. Mothers may also intentionally keep the business small to be manageable," said Mrs Sher-li Torey, founder of social enterprise Mums@Work here. Among its 3,800 members, about 1,000 have set up businesses or expressed interest in doing so. Mrs Torrey runs several proframmes supporting mumpreneurs, including a monthly networking brunch conducted together with NTUC's U Family unit.

"We advocate mothers to think about proper business methodologies, rather than take part in quick, get-rich schemes," she added. Mr Josh Gosh, assistant director of corporate services at recruitment firm The GMP Group, said the mumpreneur trend is riding on the ease of the Internet as a platform for online businesses.

"Some women want to spend more time with their children yet pursue their interests. They enjoy the flexi-time and freedom," he said. Retail Expert Sarah Lim, a senior lecturer at the Singapore Polytechnic, said women are now educated and "know where to source for business". Still, Mr Goh cautioned that it may not be a breeze to start a business unless the person has some knowledge of the industry. Mumpreneurs could also be stretched by the volume of orders and might not be able to find helping hands.

But despite the challenges, Mr Goh foresees that the trend will continue. "Technology is a key factor. A lot of small businesses are based on social media and word of mouth. Also, the relaxation of HDB rules means that it is easier to register home-based businesses," he said.

Mumpreneur Neetu Khanchandani, 32, who owns online outfit Entice Jewellery, took that plunge last year. "There are so many opportunities online and it is really good for mothers... they can stay at home yet put their potential to good use," said the mother of a 3.5 year old son. But she admitted that such businesses do not rake in as much as a corporate pay cheque, estimating that she could earn $2,000 more if she return to her previous bank-officer job.

Mrs Tan, who has a five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter, said the family income is now half the five-figure sum she and her husband used to earn monthly. But she sees it as a worthy sacrifice. "The time spent with my kids is priceless. I want them to grow up with a strong sense of home and know that there are people they can always come home to." she said, adding that she answers e-mail and packs orders only after 10pm.

Juggling both business and children at home also requires mumpreneurs to find a right balance. Mrs Martha Liebman, 40, gets calls from clients 24/7. The Singapore permanent resident runs BabyTown, an online store selling baby products. On how she copes, The mother of two boys aged nine and four said:" I'm home all the time and I've set my kids' desk next to mine - they have the comfort of knowing I'm nearby."

Mrs Liebman added that mumpreneurs can control the scale of the business to suit their needs. "You can keep it as small as you want, or crank it up when your kids are older, like what I'm planning to do," she said. And unlike other mothers employed by firms, she knows she can take time-out any time she wants to. "I don't miss any of the parent-teacher meetings or my sons' performances. I don't miss critical moments," she said.

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