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Idealog—in the ideas business

Behind the ‘mumpreneur’ facade

I’ve always prided myself on my sense of gritty British realism – so no one was more surprised than me when motherhood transformed me into the queen of self-delusion.

Jil O'BrienIn addition to the usual first time Mum delusions (I’ll be wearing my skinny jeans again in six weeks; life will return to normal in a few months, etc. etc.) I held many grand delusions about starting a business, remaining sane and being a full time mum to my (now 9-month-old) little boy.

The ‘Mumpreneur’ seems to grace the pages of every parenting magazine I look at these days. I’d love to class myself in this category but I feel like a bit of a fraud – these mumpreneurs seem to exude glossy confidence with their manicured nails, polished pitches and obedient offspring.

When my partner and I hit upon the idea of Borrowed Size, I’d imagined myself as a perfectly organised, perfectly glossy mumpreneur. My son and I would skip through golden cornfields accompanied by tuneful birdsong before I laid him smiling in his crib for his morning nap. He would sleep for a blissful two hours whilst I became an entrepreneurial dynamo – securing investment, managing branding and masterminding world domination plans over my morning tea. See – delusional!

The truth is that starting your own business is hard work. Being a mum is also hard work. The two combined are damn near impossible on some days!

Creating workable order from the chaos of family life is the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced and apparently I’m not alone; all over the country, new mums are shunning an early return to their corporate roots in favour of developing their entrepreneurial dreams.

And therein lies the reason for this blog: Over the next 12 months I’ll chart my progress as a startup founder; the highs, the lows and the meetings I’ve endured with baby spew in my hair!

Hopefully along the way I’ll discover tricks and trade secrets of the glossy mumpreneur. Watch this space; I’ll let you know.

Jil O’Brien is co-founder of Borrowed Size  and can’t decide whether she is a mother, blogger, or entrepreneur, but is usually all three at some point each day.

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You always manage to to reflect accurately the things that lots of mums would like to say, but somehow don't manage to do so. Your account of the trials and tribulations of being an mumpreneur, would also fit the majority of mums who do decide to return to work early in motherhood. You will, I am certain, reassure many mums who think that they are failing or doing the wrong thing. Keep it up Jill, you are a credit to mums everywhere!

I'm looking forward to your blogs :-) (Say hi to Jason)

I think this article is a little off the mark actually. Not sure where you get the impression of a Mumpreneur being 'manicured nails, polished pitches and obedient offspring'.. It's nothing like that! I run a branch of The Mumpreneurs Networking Club and none of the above applies - I'm also a Sales Trainer and Mentor and work with lots of Mumpreneurs and if you look at the networking page of my website , you'll see lots of 'normal' women supporting each other and helping to grow each others businesses. Mumpreneurs (by our definition) are a force to be reckoned with (not because we have super powers to cope with juggling our lives) and are putting in the hard work to create work/life balance… so to be honest i find terms such as 'deluded' and 'facade' a tad offensive.

How sad I was to read this rather negative article.
I agree wholeheartedly with Dawn and perhaps it reflects what is currently one person's bad experience and their own pre-conceived ideas of what a 'mumpreneur' is.
I really have 'been there and done that' as my children are now 24 and 21. I left high pressured corporate life to have my children and set up my first very small business working from home and working around my domestic responsibilities. I wasn't always 'perfectly manicured' nor were my offspring obligingly 'obedient'. It was fun though - I made it fun because I wanted it to work!
All rewarding 'business' is hard work and working for yourself is no exception. Bringing up children can also be hard work.
To then be described as delusional to have thought I could make it as both an entrepreneur and a mum is rather disappointing, not to mention rather insulting to me personally; and this article may actually be quite off-putting to others who'd like to follow in our footsteps.
Mums, and women in general, have often been underrated in the workforce, so to have one of our own making things appear as bleak as ever, is saddening.
So, how did I fare, I may not be the multi-milliionaire entrepreneur that I would have liked to become but having tried several businesses; always combining bringing up my 'babies' with working for myself; I now run a construction company with my husband and a fitness business too - both, successfully enough. My children are fine - they survived well, too - my son, at 24, is a manager with a storage firm and my daughter graduated last year.
Sometimes being positive about what you can achieve actually gets you a little closer to that goal.
Good Luck to all those who decide to give it a go - it really is lots of fun!

Oh what a shame that Jil is having such a negative experience.

I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with Dawn and I do speak from the position of having 'been there and done that'!

My children, now 24 and 21, were brought up with Mum being a Mumpreneur.

Was it hard? At times, of course, such is life but, have I actually been able to enjoy the best of both worlds - working and raising my children myself? Absolutely!

I also have not succeeded with every step - after several small home business, I now run a construction business with my husband and a fitness business myself - successfully enough to look after us financially. I've not always been perfectly manicured or had the most obedient children but I've always found that managing my time wasn't ever 'damn near impossible' especially as the children got older. I've seen plenty of people do harder things in life!

As an aside, my children are also fine - my son, at 24, is a manager in a storage firm and my daughter, 22, graduated with a 2:1 last year. They learned plenty from their Mum about organisation, planning, prioritising and ensuring that the important things like family, remain the reason and focus.

Am I 'delusional'? Oh, that hurts a little but I really don't think so. I don't think I've been particularly lucky either but I have tried to be positive and maybe that's the key.

Some clever person; not me, unfortunately; once said “If you think you can or you think you can't; you're probably right”

It's a pity that one of our own, a Mum who wants to work, isn't trying harder to present a more upbeat image of something that she really hasn't had the opportunity to try thoroughly yet. I sincerely hope her blog doesn't continue to paint the sort of picture that she's started here.

In a world where it continues to be difficult enough for women to find the home/work balance - we need to inspire, not demotivate, others to follow.

I think maybe you have read Jil's message the wrong way… Has she once said it's too hard and she's going to give up? Or that she isn't enjoying it? No, all she has said it that it isn't..

“My son and I would skip through golden cornfields accompanied by tuneful birdsong before I laid him smiling in his crib for his morning nap. He would sleep for a blissful two hours whilst I became an entrepreneurial dynamo”

Is that quote delusional? Absolutely. Seems to me that is Jil's point. She is not referring to anyone as delusional other than herself.

Of course on the front of magazine's mumpreneurs are displayed as perfectly manicured - it is a magazine! However, the way Jil is writing this as a realistic blog should be an inspiration to these 'mumpreneurs' everywhere.

Wouldn't it be delusional if she said it was easy?

Good on you Jil, and good luck!

Please note that the only person I would ever describe as delusional is myself!
I agree that starting a business whilst raising children can be a fun and I relish the challenges I’m facing both as a parent and business woman. I don’t intend the blog to discourage those Mums who may be considering starting a business, I simply aim to relay with candor my experiences. I personally believe that painting an overly positive and unrealistic picture undermines the efforts and confidence of those believing it to be true. I’m certain the Mums with a desire to succeed in a business of their own creation will not be needing my encouragement in the form of sugar-coating my experiences. The crux of the issue is that being a mumpreneur is challenging and is hard work and I will be sharing the high points, the low points and all that comes in between. Thanks for reading!

Love this! A refreshing look on how some days as a busy working mum can go Oh so wrong but then there are those days where everything just works and you feel on top of the world! Look forward to reading more :)

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