The rise of the mompreneur

A growing number of mothers are starting their own home-based businesses.

Published September 4, 2007 9:52PM (EDT)

The cover story in the Sept. 3 issue of U.S. News and World Report is devoted to a supposedly new trend in motherhood: the "mompreneur." Heard of her? The mompreneur is defined as one of a growing number of women who have decided that they don't want to go back to full-time work but also don't want to be full-time moms. Instead, they're negotiating flexible work schedules with their employers, based around the idea that if you get the job done, it shouldn't matter whether you're in the office full time or not. It's a new kind of working mother.

We've reported on flexible work arrangements before. (As proof that the trend is growing, today nearly 26 percent of working women with kids under 18 report working flexible schedules, versus 14 percent in 1991.) But I think the more interesting part of the mompreneur idea is that, as elaborated on by Hartford Business, an increasing number of mothers are starting their own home-based businesses. As evidence, Hartford Business points out that nearly 75 percent of the more than 10 million women-owned businesses in America have no employees. And there's certainly other evidence of the trend -- there are plenty of books on new ways moms can build their own businesses (e.g. "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide" and "Secrets of Millionaire Moms"), and a new magazine, Hybrid Mom, just launched that describes itself as a "reality magazine for moms by moms." (It defines a hybrid mom as "an adult female who has discarded outdated and unrealistic conceptions of motherhood. She is parent, wife, volunteer and sometimes entrepreneur, all in one. Known for her strength, sense of humor, and flexibility, a hybrid mom is actually a fusion of roles that suit her own individuality.")

Hybrid Mom is published by an interesting company, Moms for Profit. It specializes in helping would-be entrepreneurial mothers start their own businesses. (What's more, it offers some of its business-trained mothers to companies that might be looking to hire out-of-office consultants.)

As we've noted before, it'd be incorrect to assume that flexible working arrangements (and resources for starting home-based businesses) are available to all moms -- they clearly require financial stability, a certain level of education and a particular type of job. But still, I think it's great that mothers are helping redefine America's definition of work. American women have long felt a tension between their professional aspirations and their roles as moms. Now that technology has made it possible to work efficiently outside of a traditional office, I think these mothers are going to do something beyond the already impressive task of raising their children: They might just redefine what it means to be "at work" -- for men and women both.

By Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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