Don’t Call Me a “Mompreneuer”
I am a business woman and an entrepreneur.
I never ever thought I’d be in this position. I never saw myself as an entrepreneur with a startup. But here I am, nearly a year after I launched, killing it.
And, “killing it” looks nothing like I expected.
I’ve wrestled with the notion of being a female business owner. The reality of being a single working mom. The concept of writing for a living.
The empowerment that comes from being a woman running her own business.
The benefits that come with being a woman business owner and the drawbacks of not being a man.
And there’s nothing that I hate more than all of the special words we use to describe a female business owner. Because why do we have special words for women who are business owners?
Every one of those terms carries a certain weight with it. Like I’m supposed to be juggling children and my job at exactly the same time.
Like I’m supposed to be wearing a pencil skirt, high heels and sexy librarian glasses. Also red lipstick.
And none of these are reality. But, alas, once again, the patriarchy has created an illusion and we’re falling for it.
The one I hate most is “mompreneuer.”
Fact: I am a mom.
Fact: I am an entrepreneur.
Fact: I am a freelancer.
Fact: I am female.
Fact: I hustle every day and not on the side — mind you.
My business is not some hobby that I do while my kids are in school. Although, thank God they ARE in school because the house is quiet and I can get stuff done.
I am a single mom which means that I do this work to pay the bills. I chose to make something out of what I love to do. And I love to write. In fact, there are few things I love more than writing.
The fact that I own a business does not diminish my motherhood in any way whatsoever. I don’t feel guilty about having a business or the fact that most days I keep working after my kids come home from school. Until I hang it up around 5:00pm.
For a short time after my divorce, I drove to the city for work every day. It was a 40 minute commute each way. I was proud to do so. Proud of the example I set for my children — that moms can work just like everyone else. That hard work pays off. That you keep plugging away at something and watch it grow.
I left the job, not because I felt guilty about never seeing my kids, but because the job stressed me out so much that when I did see my kids, I couldn’t give them all of me. But I didn’t feel guilty about going away to work. And maybe that’s because of the example I had.
My mom worked when I was growing up. As an advertising exectuive. She never apologized for it. And if she felt guilty about going to work all day while her peers stayed home, she never showed it. Neither I nor my brother felt like we were lacking because our mom went to work every day. We were proud of her. She had a corner office!
Still, I run into so many moms who include being a mom on their resume. And it’s not that being a mom isn’t legitimate hard work. It is — very hard work. But, while your client wants you to be relatable, your client also wants to feel like they are the only person you care about. I don’t care how easy-going that client is.
If your client shares that they are a parent, that’s the time to be “relatable.” You can speak to the challenges of running a business and being a mom. Sharing that personal detail at any other time tells your clients that your “business” is a side gig so you don’t get bored when your kids are at school.
You will lose business because you are sending a message that the client is not your priority. You are a business owner. And at business functions, your client is your priority.
You don’t owe anyone an apology for that. If anyone gives you a hard time because you launched your own business in addition to parenting, you don’t need them in your life. You do you. Stop justifying it or excusing yourself.
Calling yourself a mompreneuer works if your target is stay-at-home moms. But if your market is larger than stay-at-home moms, I caution you against calling yourself a mompreneur. Larger businesses are looking for a saavy business professional. Not someone who has a hobby.
The double standard.
Becoming a dad is often a career booster.
Becoming a mom can be a career killer.
Oftentimes, men are promoted when they become fathers. Because historically, they’re known as the breadwinners. Being a family man remains a status symbol in executive circles. It’s not a safe space for moms. Even in today’s society with women at the helm of many businesses. The business world still views motherhood as a defect — detrimental to the corporate environment.
This will change in time. But, only if we stop diminishing our business accumen because we’re moms. Men don’t ever call themselves dadpreneurs. Aside from using it to get a promotion, men don’t make fatherhood an important part of their workplace identity. They keep going to their jobs just as they always have. And they’re great dads when they come home.
Moms who function like men in business climb the corporate ladder. Even though becoming a mom changes everything. Women who carry that title to the office or into their business instead of wearing the office hat, or business owner hat, kill their business. Colleagues and clients don’t take moms seriously. So, leave motherhood out of it.
Your children are being cared for while they are in school or at daycare. Your family will still eat — and probably eat far better if you play the mom role at the appropriate times.
I’m an entrepreneur and a writer. That’s it. If I present myself any other way, I may as well take a secretarial job. No one will to take me seriously if I don’t present myself as serious writer.
“Mompreneuer” implies that your priorities are elsewhere. Potential clients see your business as secondary to motherhood. There’s nothing wrong with being a mom who owns a business. There’s nothing wrong with being a mom who hustles every day. There’s nothing wrong with being a working mom. There is something wrong with diminishing any part of your identity that’s not motherhood.
Entrepreneurs go into business because they’re passionate about their idea. It’s ok for moms to be passionate about something besides their kids too. In calling yourself an entrepreneur you are showing the world that you value yourself outside of motherhood as well as inside of motherhood. It shows self-confidence, it shows courage, and it shows the world you’re serious.
Ladies, it’s ok to use the regular terms. You are an entrepreneur. You have your own business. You’re a writer or a graphic designer or a web designer or a programmer or whatever it is you do. You started your business because it was your passion.
Sell that passion to everyone else. Let them know how passionate you are about it. And keep the comments about motherhood and parenting to yourself — unless it’s obvious that playing up motherhood will increase your chances of getting the job.
So let’s stop calling ourselves “mompreneurs” and start calling ourselves entrepreneurs. Because that’s what we are. And we have as much value as anyone else.
Kim Funk is a freelance writer who lives in a small town outside of Minneapolis, MN. She writes about freelancing, small towns, being a hockey parent, and life after divorce. And she’s trying really hard not to be a perfectionist.