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Why I've Stopped Calling Myself a Mumpreneur

29/01/2014 11:32 GMT | Updated 30/03/2014 10:59 BST

Mumpreneur is a term that divides opinion. There are some that proudly declare it as their profession, in their brand name, and in their marketing. There are others who would never use it because they fundamentally disagree with the term itself and what it represents.

Until recently I was in a third camp. I disliked the word because it's clunky and sounds silly when you say it. (I felt like I had to gesture those bunny rabbit ears with my fingers to show *inverted commas* and put on a deep voice to emphasise the very strangeness of the word.) So I'd use it in blogs and online, but would never say it out loud if asked what I do for a living.

But now I wouldn't even call myself it in writing. It all changed for me last week when I read a story in the Daily Mail, "Work life: The school run mumpreneurs" about mums earning a bit of extra cash. The article was, I hope, supposed to show women that there are options for earning small amounts of income doing a variety of things that they can fit around being a full time mum. Unfortunately, the writer of the piece called these women mumpreneurs.

And therein lies the problem. To me, a mumpreneur is an entrepreneur who also happens to be a mum. She works on her business in the evenings or while her children are at school or childcare. She may work a 'full time' week of around 40 hours or, more likely, somewhere around the 20 hours that traditional jobs would describe as 'part time'. She may have a business that is aimed at families or other mums, or her work might be completely unrelated to the fact she's a mum. It's likely that she had a normal job before she became a mother, and that having kids was the catalyst to her setting up her business. She is therefore an entrepreneur, a businesswoman, and a mum - amongst other things no doubt.

But in describing mumpreneurs as the "pin-money posse" the Daily Mail article defined mumpreneurship as being something that people dabble in - a kind of play business where the reward is pocket money for new shoes.

And if this is what the general public think it is, then us mumpreneurs have a problem. Unfortunately, I think this is exactly what the general public thinks it means.

A while ago I posted a question on the Maternity Leavers Facebook page asking what people think of the term mumpreneur. It got quite a few replies and sparked some debate. Most of the resistance to using it was around the general perception of it being 'not quite a real entrepreneur'. At the time I argued that I was proud to label myself with a word that described my self employed career as an 'entrepreneur but with more challenges'. However, I now realise that most people believe it means 'a sort of pretend entrepreneur who's mostly lazing around at home watching cbeebies and selling old baby stuff on ebay'.

People also raised the killer question: 'If you're a mumpreneur why don't male business owners with children describe themselves as dadpreneurs?' My answer to that was always that unless they're also the ones who have primary responsibility for their children and are literally working around naptimes or the school pick ups or nursery drop offs, then the fact they have children is irrelevant.

But I was wrong. The reason society doesn't use the term dadpreneur much is because the word entrepreneur is subconsciously associated with being a man, and if that man is also a dad, then probably his wife is looking after his children anyway. His dadness has nothing to do with his business.

Harsh, but reality.

It seems to me now that far from being an empowering word, mumpreneur is used by some as a way of patronising entrepreneurial mums by calling them something other than what they are - entrepreneurs. It reminds me of 'lady doctors', 'female lawyers' or 'male nurses' where the term is understood to be masculine or feminine and therefore needs extra explanation when a person of the opposite sex dares to intrude on the profession.

I have no problem with women calling themselves mumpreneurs. In fact, I know the truth about what a mumpreneur really is and what it takes to be successful at being one. When someone tells me they're a mumpreneur I am always interested to hear what they do and how they've managed it. And I'm always impressed at what they've achieved. So none of what I've said above is meant to knock women who proudly use the term to describe themselves.

But from one mumpreneur to another, I feel the need to tell them that other people's understanding of the word may not be the same as theirs (although I also know they don't need telling this).

For me, I'm just not sure I have the time or energy to educate people about what it really means. And that's why I won't be calling myself a mumpreneur ever again - with or without gesticulating bunny ears.