Productive parents: why more mums are launching businesses

Starting up

24 February 2017

An increasing number of women with young children are setting up their own businesses. Some 12.6% of female entrepreneurs* we interviewed identified themselves as mum entrepreneurs.

With one eye on their business and the other firmly on the kids, these women are inspirational. But what's behind the growing trend?

Childcare and work-life balance

The rising cost of childcare is one contributing factor. According to the Money Advice Centre, it costs on average £217.57 per week to place a child under two in full-time childcare in the UK (which rises to £302.17 in London). If you have more than one child, this can quickly become prohibitive. There's a gender imbalance at play here too, with 34% of women deciding to work part time because of family commitments compared to 13% of men. It's easy to see why giving up the nine to five in favour of flexible hours, and more time at home with the children, has become a very attractive prospect for many parents.

'Power' maternity leaves

The idea of the 'power' maternity leave has become popular in recent years, with new mums choosing to use this time away from the traditional work environment to launch a business. For anyone who has thought about starting their own company, the break from the office and change of pace during maternity leave can be the catalyst they need to think about and research their idea. Of course, many new mums don't have the time or energy when their baby is small, but others find that they're struck with inspiration while at home caring for a newborn.

Problems solved and new ideas

The businesses launched by women with young children cover a wide range of products. Although most start small, some have hit the big time. One famous example is Lynda Harding of SweetDreamers. She invented Ewan the Dream Sheep while she was on maternity leave with baby number six, which replicates the soothing sounds of a pregnant mother’s heartbeat.

Though many products invented by entrepreneurial mums are designed to make life with a little one easier, it's not always the case. Former fashion journalist Natalie Massenet started the designer fashion website Net-a-Porter when she was pregnant with her first child. Kate Cotton and Louise Ferguson founded the Skinny Tan brand while they were on maternity leave, and secured funding from Dragon's Den.

Getting started

If you're thinking about setting up on your own in order to spend more time with the family, there are a few things you need to consider first. As well as having a thorough business plan and some savings to live on while you get up and running, it's also important to remember that self-employed business people often work longer hours (we've found that 5% of freelance consultants work 12-hour days). Plan carefully to ensure you get the balance right between work and home.

Our Business Guardian Angel hub has plenty of advice to help you get started. We also have a range of business insurance products to ensure that you and your business are protected for every eventuality.

*A survey of 533 business owners was conducted by AXA Business Insurance in November 2016.