Mompreneurs: 16 years of weathering the changes
Are you a woman? Are you a mom? Do you own your own business? If the answers to all of these questions are yes, then you're a mompreneur.
Particia Cobe and Ellen Parlapiano coined the term mompreneur back in 1996 when they co-authored their first book, "Mompreneurs: A Mother's Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Work-at-Home Success."
"When we came up with that word it was really to be an empowering word that really encompassed finding a way to carve out new solutions for yourself and to find some flexibility," Parlapiano said. In 16 years, though, the term has grown.
"It's grown to mean something more: Mom entrepreneurs who are running their own show and who are serious about it," Parlapiano said. "These aren't just moms who want to bring in money here and there. These are serious career women who want to keep working on their terms and do something they're passionate about and something that can bring money in."
Currently, Parlapiano and Cobe run a website, mompreneursonline.com, for mompreneurs to get started and connect, which they took solo in 2003 after having it on iVillage for five years.
According to the Center for Women's Business Research, as of 2008, there are 10.1 million women-owned businesses in the U.S.
Parlapiano said specific percentages are hard to come by, but one thing she has noticed is a change in acceptance.
"When we were just starting to write the book, the women who worked from home were really kind of nervous or reluctant to reveal [the fact that they were working from home] to clients," Parlapiano said. "They tried to mask that fact, but now there's much more acceptance. It doesn't really seem like a big deal."
Kathy McShane, owner and founder of Ladies Who Launch in New Canaan, has noticed more women starting their own businesses since the downturn in the economy.
"I've noticed more and more women starting their own businesses because they need to," McShane said.
She founded Ladies who Launch in 2010, and has worked with and helped launch more than 300 women-owned businesses since.
McShane said 85 percent of the women she's helped have been mompreneurs. McShane also coined the term "shepreneur" for ladies who are 55 and up who star their own businesses.
Some trends McShane noticed in the women-business world were those who started their business around one of their passions, as well as service areas like coaching and fashion.
"There's a lot of event planning, and a lot of women are writing books. There are a lot of nutritionists, too," McShane said.
Parlapiano said technology has played a big role in what businesses women are starting.
"Technology has changed a lot of things," Parlapiano said. "There are a lot of moms doing virtual assistance jobs. I've also noticed a lot more product businesses being invited by parents who want to solve a problem in their own lives. They want a certain kind of stroller or a certain kind of safety device, so parents are going ahead and inventing those."
Parlapiano said she believes that family flexibility is still a driving factor in why women start their own businesses.
"The workplace has become much more flexible, but I think moms are starting their businesses because they want the best of both worlds," Parlapiano said. "And now, with technology, you're able to run your office and work from home."
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