Dr Jo Kirkwood is excited about her current research project around mothers who are starting their own businesses.
“I’ve always been interested in researching women entrepreneurs and have been doing so since 2009,” she explains. “I recently started looking into a subset of these women – mumpreneurs – entrepreneurs who start businesses when they have young children.”
Jo became interested in this herself as she had young children and was trying to find the right work-family balance. “I was interested in how these women took control of their own work and started businesses to suit themselves and their individual circumstances.”
Sometimes these businesses were baby-focused – such as baby clothing, supplies, or goods and services directed at mothers. However, in many cases the businesses were directly related to the woman’s previous career. “They found it difficult to sustain full-time employment and the demands that placed on them, and wanted flexibility around hours and place of work to work around their children.”
Jo found this subject of research fascinating. “These women are amazing,” she says. “The women have taken control of their own destiny and are incredible role models for other women and for their children.” Jo explains how they are not only creating both a business for themselves, but also many actively provide jobs for other mums – offering family friendly workplaces, where children can be brought to work in many cases.
Jo’s next step is working with the WE network to develop a survey for their 6,000 members based around the benefits of their membership of an online community for women entrepreneurs. “This is a relatively new group, and with the founding of the network we are interested in finding out to what extent women entrepreneurs use online networks like the WE network for advice, selling, learning and training and so forth,” Jo says.
She explains that as most of the women in this group are mumpreneurs, they are faced with time pressures of being unable to access traditional small business training that might occur at breakfast or evening meetings for example. “Our instinct is that women highly value this network, and we are going to do a survey of the membership to really understand what its value to them is.”