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Overcoming the mumpreneur stereotype

Wednesday, 30 January 2013 | By Amanda Jesnoewski

With the number of mums in business growing rapidly, balancing both work and business is fast becoming something that is respected and even admired. Though in some business circles, being a ‘mumpreneur’ can bring about a certain stereotype.

 

Whether you openly disclose it or not, when it’s found out that you’re a mum in business, particularly with young children, you can, in these circles, be assumed to be unreliable because you’ll put your kids first; not be as serious about business because you are balancing both family and work; and/or that you must have a hobby business because you couldn’t possibly balance both roles effectively.

 

Sometimes this way of thinking can be based on a bad experience they've had, and other times it's an ill-informed assumption. But despite it being unfair and insulting, it is a stereotype we can get confronted with at one time or another and as such need to find a way of dealing with it.

 

So here are five tips to help you disprove the ‘mumpreneur’ stereotype when it comes to doing business with you.

 

1. Dress for success

 

Never underestimate how much the clothes you wear can influence the way people will treat you. What you wear and, more specifically, how much fabric it includes can often be used as a measure of how much respect you receive.

 

If you want respect in business it is important to dress professionally and conservatively, certainly add some personal flair, just make sure it still falls into these two groups.

 

2. Exude confidence

 

When you have confidence in yourself it helps others to have confidence in you and trust in your expertise. Building your confidence starts by establishing the value you bring to each business transaction, personally as the head of your business and professionally through the quality of each product or service you supply.

 

This confidence and faith in your own abilities earns respect and builds credibility. The more you take yourself seriously in business, the more others will too.

 

3. Speak up

 

Always be on the lookout for opportunities to showcase your expertise. The more you can share your knowledge in an appropriate, valuable and useful way, the more people will begin to respect your opinion and actively seek it out.

 

When someone presents a question or challenge in your area of expertise that you can help with, whether on social media, a forum, blog, business meeting or networking event, speak up. The important point to remember here is to speak up to add value, not just to fill the silence or remind people of your presence.

 

4. Don’t overcommit

 

One of the easiest ways to miss a deadline and mismanage clients is to commit to more work than you can handle. Realistically look at how much work you can personally handle, leaving some extra gaps of time in case of sick kids or other commitments that ‘come up’, and make sure your work schedule reflects it.

 

If you want to grow your business beyond what you can do then look at outsourcing some of the other tasks you do to free up time, or have others take on the new work for you. You could also try booking work a few weeks ahead so you can still do the project without it interrupting your current work schedule.

 

Doing this will ensure that you give each client and project the proper attention and meet each deadline so it can never be said that you are “unreliable”.

 

5. Do what it takes!

 

When you have committed to a deadline or project, be prepared to do whatever it takes to meet it, even if it means working long hours late into the night.

 

To do this you need to build a strong personal support system (people to help with the kids and home tasks) and professional support system (people you can outsource work to) that you can call on for help when you need to get through your work.

 

What are your tips for overcoming the ‘mumpreneur’ or ‘mum in business’ stereotype?