Over the last few years there’s been a surge in what have become known as Mumpreneur businesses. (Mumpreneur even made it into the dictionary this year!) That is, successful small businesses run by mums with family responsibilities.
But the term is misleading. To be honest it’s just one of those convenient tags that the media jump on. But the truth is most of the business models are open to all – male or female, young or old.
So, I’m going to look more closely at what Mumpreneurs can teach us about making money and review some business packages.
You see, there’s absolutely no reason why most of these opportunities are only suitable for mums. Most of them are suitable for anybody who wants a home based business. (They’re often ideal for husband- and-wife teams too.) So if you don’t want to be known as a Mumpreneur, well, just call yourself a homepreneur instead.
What makes Mumpreneur businesses tick?
What’s the difference between a Mumpreneur/home-preneur business… and an ordinary business?
I’ve taken a look, and there seems to be a couple of distinguishing features: Firstly, a Mumpreneur business is typically any business that fits in well with a family lifestyle. Secondly – and this is really clever – it’s a business that often uses family and social ties for inspiration and to help build a customer base.
They tend to be part-time opportunities. Something you can work alongside other commitments. Maybe even if you have another job or business already. They don’t tend to be 9-5 businesses. They’re usually jobs you can work during the evenings and week- ends, whenever it suits you. (Working out of hours often suits your customers better too.)
They tend to be something that you can work from home, often using the Internet for some or even all of your business.
And these kinds of businesses offer flexibility. Some- thing you can “jump off” every now and again if you need to take a break… and then jump back on later. Maybe it will be the sort of business that can run on autopilot to some extent too, and perhaps offer you a residual income.
When you think about it, Mumpreneur/ homepreneur businesses don’t just make sense for mums – they make sense for everyone else too!
But can you make money from them? Now maybe you’re thinking that Mumpreneur/homepreneur busi- nesses, by their very nature, offer you a “mini mum” profit. But that’s not necessarily the case.
It’s true that, because they tend to be part time opera- tions, these types of businesses do tend to have more modest turnovers than full-size businesses. Most of the packages I’ve investigated for this report, for example, offer a turnover in the region of £100 to £1,000 per week.
However, there’s a very important point you need to bear in mind: mumpreneur/homepreneur businesses tend to have low costs. They’re usually run on a shoestring. They don’t need any expensive prem- ises, staff or equipment. Yet they enjoy high profit margins. They often offer premium products and ser- vices. They’re usually in niches that don’t compete with pile-em-high-sell-em cheap big businesses. As a result they can offer very attractive profit potential.
Ideas and case studies:
• After spending time in the USA Maxine Lewis of Gander Kids found herself disillusioned with the range of children’s furniture and toys avail- able in the UK. So she secured UK distribution rights for a major US brand. She now supplies some of the biggest high street names.
* After losing her job in publishing Kate Wilson started her own company publishing children’s books. It’s called Nosy Crow. But Nosy Crow is no ordinary publishing company – they now publish innovative interactive children’s apps for tablets, smartphones and other touchscreen devices.
* Claire Moran runs My Secret Kitchen. It’s a unique way of cashing in on the national love affair with cookery and entertaining (that made the likes of Delia Smith and Jamie Oliver millions). They create exciting new recipe ideas and share them through food-tasting events held at home. Website: www.mysecretkitchen.co.uk
• Laura Rudoe founded Evolve Organic Beauty. She found her own gap in the market for natural, organic skincare products in environ- mentally-friendly packaging.
• DaddyNatal was created by Dean Beaumont in response to his experiences becoming a father for the first time. The idea of DaddyNatal is to support dads to be the best birth partners they can be. They offer antenatal classes (for men only) and new dads’ classes (for dads and baby only). It’s a perfect example of a mumpreneur-inspired business that also works for men. Website: www.daddynatal.co.uk
(All the above were winners at The Mumpreneur Awards 2011 held recently.)
How to find your own successful idea
I hope that’s inspired you. So how can you go about finding a good idea for your own Mumpreneur or Mumpreneur-inspired business?
It makes a lot of sense to talk to mums… whether or not you’re one yourself. These types of businesses are not only run by families, but families are often their main customers too. Ask them what sort of products and services they find it hard to find at the moment. Or what kinds of products or services they think could be improved. If you have a business in mind already ask them if it’s something they would buy or use – or not.
Also keep an eye on news and gossip to find what could be hot, and what’s definitely not. Read the main women’s magazines, and the “For Women” sections of newspapers. Sign up for forums and chat rooms – especially the influential Mumsnet (Mums- net.com).
Here are two websites I found that are good for ideas and inspiration too: MumsClub (www.Mumsclub. co.uk) and Mumpreneur UK (www.Mumpreneuruk. com).
Traditional opportunities. In researching these kinds of opportunities I’ve found that many of the packages on offer are exactly the type of opportunity you’d expect mums to be interested in – particularly those that involve working with children, or things that are health/fashion, food or home-related. Maybe it’s a little bit stereotypical, but it seems to work very well for lots of people.
Business and professional services. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with traditional opportunities, of course. But don’t let that stop you considering other ideas. There are plenty of entrepreneurs out there who are providing business and professional services – things like marketing, web design, legal services, publishing, recruitment or management consultancy.
Freelancing. Is very popular with some of these entrepreneurs. Do you have an existing business or personal skill? Perhaps one you’ve used in a previous job? Perhaps you could use that as the basis for your Mumpreneur/ homepreneur business by offering it to customers on a freelance basis.
Direct selling. One thing I’ve discovered in researching these kinds of opportunities is that an awful lot of them involve some kind of direct selling – especially party-plan selling á la Tupperware. While there’s nothing wrong with direct selling as a concept, you’ll need to have a really good in-demand product and good sales skills if you’re to make a success of this kind of opportunity.
Reviews of some of the main business opportunity packages being promoted right now are coming up shortly.
How to find customers for your business
Mumpreneur/homepreneur businesses can use any way of finding business that any other business can of course. So press advertising, direct mail, online marketing and so on all have their place.
But this is one of the things I found most exciting about Mumpreneur and Mumpreneur-inspired businesses, and it’s a very strong ace card to hold indeed: They cleverly lock into the social side of things. They use social connections to find customers, build customer relationships and make sales.
The school gate forum is just one example of this. mums meet other mums with children at the school gates. They mention a product or service they’ve used and recommend it to others. Other Mums try it and do the same. It’s a very effective and cheap way of spreading your message.
I’m not saying you have to hang around at the school gates! But use the same principles. If you have kids choose an opportunity that can make use of your parent-and-child social circle. Or do a deal with schools, nurseries and so on who might be willing to endorse what you do. Use links with clubs and groups for adults too – this could be ideal for promoting business and professional services. Use “recommend a friend” schemes in your business too.
And of course utilise the social media. Have a Facebook page for your business. Tweet to Twitter.
If you’re freelancing make use of freelance networks. Sites that bring freelancers and customers together – such as Elance and Odesk. PeoplePerHour.com is a newish freelancing website that seems particularly well used by Mumpreneur/ homepreneurs.
Mumpreneur/homepreneur business opportunity reviews:
In this section, I’m going to take a closer look at some of the opportunity packages that are currently being pitched to the Mumpreneur/ homepreneur market. What do I really think of them? And, could any of them be good for you?
Opportunity Description: It’s kind of difficult to describe how this works. But 1 Off Moments makes silver jewellery which encapsulates a fingerprint – whether from a baby, child or parent, etc. – provid- ing a keepsake of a unique moment in time for the customer. As a self-employed sales consultant you sell their product in your area.
Cost To Start: £100 for a start up pack.
WBO: Honestly, I think this is quite a little find! Basically, it’s a party-plan-based system. But they have a really original and attractive product (take a look at it to see what I mean!) which I think, if well presented, could do really well.
WBO Rating: 4/5
Tel. 0845 431 0650
Opportunity Description: Arbonne International distributes a range of what they call ultra premium Swiss botanical skincare products. They say the busi- ness is run in a variety of ways, which makes it very suitable for mums.
Cost To Start: £75.
WBO Opinion: Let’s not beat about the bush – this one is about selling cosmetics. So it hardly wins points for originality. Then again it’s a proven home business product. If you’re enthusiastic about the product and sales-orientated I can’t see any reason why you couldn’t make it work. There’s even a men’s range, so it’s not even just for Mums!
WBO Rating: 3/5
Tel. 08444 638043
Opportunity Description: If you’re passionate about bras and like meeting other women then this is a fantastic opportunity to offer a unique service in your area. You will become known as “The Bra Lady” in your area, by offering a home bra fitting service to pregnant and breastfeeding women. (Their words not mine!)
Cost To Start: £400 for training, plus stock.
WBO Opinion: Now I can’t claim to be an expert on bras of course. But this looks like a really clever niche business that’s not well catered for elsewhere. I think it could be quite successful for the right person. The start-up fee looks reasonable too.
WBO Rating: 5/5
Contact: Tel. 0845 373 3875/01257 475838 Website: www.bras4mums.co.uk
Chocolates For Chocoholics
Opportunity Description: Chocolates for Chocohol- ics was established in 1986 and is apparently now one of the UK’s largest independent businesses that import and distribute quality chocolates and gifts. This opportunity is to join them as an independent distributor for their products.
Cost To Start: From £50 upwards.
WBO Opinion: It’s chocolate – so what’s not to like? Sales are made via chocolate parties or by direct selling. As there are lots of places selling chocolate (to put it mildly) I think you’d need to be very sales-orientated and determined to generate a good income though.
WBO Rating: 3/5
Tel. 01189 321043
Opportunity Description: Creative Stars by The Keepsake Co. will show you everything you need to know to start your very own profitable creative business. Business ideas range from creating keep- sakes for parents through to running craft parties and workshops. Keepsakes include castings, impressions, ingerprint and artwork jewellery and pottery prints. They are apparently one of the longest established keepsake companies in the UK.
Cost To Start: £100-£500.
WBO Opinion: Keepsakes are a nice idea that, with effort, could probably do quite well. I have to say though this isn’t the best-packaged opportunity. It’s a little difficult to understand exactly what’s on offer here.
WBO Rating: 3/5
Tel. 0845 257 3081
Forever Living Products
Opportunity Description: Forever Living Products is (so they say) the world’s leader in producing organi- cally grown aloe vera which they use in a range of healthy skincare and cosmetic products. Apparently it operates globally and has been here in the UK for 17 years (although this is the first I’ve heard of it).
Cost To Start: Not stated.
WBO Opinion: Another direct selling type operation. If you can sell and like the product then I sup- pose it could work. I kind of get the impression from their website that the product takes a back seat to the selling process though, which in my experience doesn’t bode too well.
WBO Rating: 2/5
Tel. 01926 626600
Opportunity Description: I-Slim agents sell HCG Homeopathic Weight Loss Drops that can apparently help people in your area lose weight (1-2lbs per day so they claim). They say Dr. Simeons, Rapid Weight Loss Diet has already taken America by storm, and is now available in UK.
Cost To Start: Not stated.
WBO Opinion: Hmmm. Not too sure about this one. Weight loss is a big and very lucrative industry of course. But I’d want to be convinced of the effi- cacy and safety of the product before I got involved with anything like this.
WBO Rating: 1/5 Contact: Tel. 0845 390 0844 Website: www.i-slim.co.uk
Magic Moments Direct
Opportunity Description: This package involves photographing children in playgroups and nurseries and similar places – although there are many other markets they say you can access too. They say it takes about 20 hours a week, which you can work around your children/family life, with no need to work in school holidays. They claim you can make up to £17,000 a year from year three of the business onwards.
Cost To Start: £699-£2,400 (less if you already have camera equipment).
WBO Opinion: Remember your old school pho- tographs? I’m sure my Mum has got mine stashed away somewhere, even though I absolutely hated them. There’s nothing wrong with this idea, as it’s already a long-established and proven service. I would imagine that it’s pretty competitive though, and will take determination to build up a good cus- tomer base of playgroups and nurseries.
WBO Rating: 3.5/5
Tel. 01242 260982
Opportunity Description: This is pitched as a flex- ible and family-friendly business running your own lively and interactive music and singing classes for the under fives. You can work part-time during the school term or expand your business further to a full time opportunity.
Cost To Start: £7,500.
WBO Opinion: Basically, quite a good little idea. But there’ll be most likely quite a lot of competition from similar services in most areas. I’d want to know that my £7,500 was going to give me a considerable cutting-edge advantage over my competitors (and was a better alternative to going it alone) before parting with this sort of money.
WBO Rating: 3/5
Tel. 0844 578 1010
Opportunity Description: Musical Signers have been providing highly-rated signing sessions since 2005. The company aim to improve communication skills via sign language and offer a variety of classes ranging from baby signing (for 0-2 years) to deaf aware- ness training for five year olds.
Cost To Start: £3,500 initial franchise fee.
WBO Opinion: This is really a lovely little idea, and I wish it well. However, I reckon you’d need experience in sign language and/or working with the deaf to do it successfully. So in reality it’s a very specialised opportunity that will only be suitable for relatively few people.
WBO Rating: 3/5
Tel. 01827 893139
My Shopping Genie
Opportunity Description: I’ve mentioned this before. Basically, it involves giving away free software/apps that are designed to help people find the best deals on their shopping. They claim you can make between £100 and £10,000 per week affiliate commission on the purchases the people who use the software you provide them with make.
Cost To Start: £130 approx.
WBO Opinion: Honestly, I can’t see this one is a goer. Persuading people to use My Shopping Genie – when there are a wealth of established tools already on the Internet to help them find good deals – is likely to be an uphill struggle to say the least. And, £10,000 a week in commission? That takes an awful lot of believing.
(P.S. If you happen to operate this scheme then I’m willing to be proved wrong, but I doubt it.)
WBO Rating: 0/5
Tel. Not given.
Neal’s Yard Remedies (NYR Organic)
Opportunity Description: NYR, the established organic beauty company, now has a direct selling arm with a major recruitment drive which is ongoing. As a consultant, you can choose the hours and the people you work with. You get 25% discount off any products you purchase and 25%+ commission on any sales.
Cost To Start: £95.
WBO Opinion: Neal’s Yard Remedies is an estab- lished company and its products are well regarded. They have men’s products too, so it’s not women- only.
At the end of the day, however, this is a direct selling operation like so many others that have gone before it. I think I can be confident in saying that only very highly sales-orientated people will do well with it. In its favour, the start-up cost seems reasonable.
WBO Rating: 3/5
Tel. 01747 834 600
Peggy & Minnie @ Yours
Opportunity Description: Peggy and Minnie @ Yours is committed to giving your customer jewellery or accessories that not only look great, but also mean something. You can sell Peggy and Minnie products at parties, fairs or fetes, with flexible hours, and backed up by their training and support. They say their jewellery and accessories have instant appeal, resulting in sales opportunities with one of the highest commission rates in the sector – from 30%.
Cost To Start: £25 registration, £125 starter kit.
WBO Opinion: Difficult to find fault with jewellery as a product to sell. A nice enough little idea assuming you can find enough places to sell it. The cost of the starter kit seems reasonable. But as with so many opportunities that involve starter kits you need to make sure you’re committed to the business before you buy, otherwise your money will be wasted.
WBO Rating: 3/5
Tel. 01780 481126
Opportunity Description: Phoenix Trading traders sell their high quality greetings cards and associated products using party plan, and from stalls at small or large gift fairs. You earn a minimum of 30% on everything you sell, plus there is a comprehensive bonus structure in place.
Cost To Start: From £45.
WBO Opinion: Again it’s difficult to find fault with this as a concept. After all, greetings cards are a mas- sive, proven market and people spend a lot of money on them. It’s also quite cheap to start. However, I’d advise you to think carefully about how and where you’re going to sell your products before you take it up.
WBO Rating: 4/5
Tel. 020 8875 9944
Opportunity Description: Pyjama Drama offers drama and creative play classes for children up to seven years old. They say it’s a unique programme, which puts a child’s imagination centre stage, stimulating and inspiring young minds.
Pyjama Drama is taught in private day nurseries, at playgroups, in infant schools, at parties and in public sessions.
Cost To Start: £6,450 + VAT.
WBO Opinion: A nice idea, although I think you’d ideally need to have some drama training or experience (and to really like children, and I mean really like) to make it work. I may have missed something, but it seems quite pricey for what’s on offer.
WBO Rating: 3/5 Contact:
Tel. 0845 16 37262
Opportunity Description: Scentsy operators sell innovative wickless candles (that are safe for homes with small children) using the direct selling model.
Cost To Start: £85.
WBO Opinion: I have to say I was a bit scepti- cal when I saw this one. But look at the cost of real scented candles, and the number of shops that sell them. And look at the £millions air freshener manu- facturers spend on TV advertising. Maybe they have just found an innovative twist on what could be a much more lucrative market than I thought? If noth- ing else, it’s fairly inexpensive to get started.
WBO Rating: 4/5
You join Scentsy by being recruited by an existing Scentsy consultant.
Opportunity Description: Silpada Designs says it is the world’s largest and fastest-growing .925 sterling silver jewellery home party company. Newly launched in the UK with existing offices in the US and Canada.
Cost To Start: £149.
WBO Opinion: Let’s make no bones about it, this is party plan. Nothing wrong with that concept as long as you’re confident you can organise enough parties. At least, unlike some party plans, jewellery is a proven product. Not unreasonable start-up cost.
WBO Rating: 4/5
Tel. 0800 345 7747 Website: www.silpada.co.uk
Opportunity Description: Surgery Network operates as a cosmetic surgery, weight-loss surgery and hair restoration surgery consulting agency – specialising in sourcing clients directly for a national network of leading consultant surgeons across the UK, Ireland, Spain, Italy and USA.
Cost To Start: £1,495.
WRMM Opinion: Cosmetic surgery is a massive and no doubt lucrative industry. Would you be comfortable marketing and selling such services without any specialist medical knowledge? I’m not too sure I would.
WBO Rating: 1/5
Tel. 0800 171 2430
The Kids Party Club
Opportunity Description: The Kids Party Club provide puppet-based children’s entertainment for party and educational purposes. They say they are the market leader in Ireland and have recently launched in the UK. Most of their entertainment (puppet shows and music) is pre-recorded so that you don’t have to have any existing theatrical skills to operate this business.
Cost To Start: £12,500.
WBO Opinion: Actually I really like this one. As you’ll know if you’ve ever organised a children’s party it can be difficult coming up with something different. And I imagine this could do quite well for anyone willing to put the effort in. One point: I do have slight reservations about the cost bearing in mind the fairly modest income potential.
WBO Rating: 3/5
Tel. 01279 550090
The Professional Copywriting Association (PCA)
Opportunity Description: The PCA is offering you a chance to become a professional copywriter with their certificated online training course. Their course shows you how to become a professional copywriter, market your services, build a long client list and run a successful freelance business.
Cost To Start: £599+VAT.
WBO Opinion: Copywriting is a totally different idea from the usual Mumpreneur/ homepreneur business themes but any kind of writing makes a good work-at-home business. As an ex-copywriter myself I can vouch that there is a good income to be made from copywriting. BUT you’ll need an aptitude for writing to be really successful. (I’d also recommend you investigate other ways of becoming a copywriter before you plump for this one.)
Tip. If you don’t fancy writing do look at what other business services you could provide as a Mumpre- neur/ homepreneur opportunity.
WBO Rating: 3/5
Tel. None given.
Opportunity Description: The Utility Warehouse provides over 300,000 customers throughout the UK with a range of utility services including home phone, mobiles, broadband, gas, electricity and non- geographic numbers. As an agent, every time your customers make a phone call, switch on a light, turn on the heating or surf the net, you get paid a small commission.
Cost To Start: £199.75.
WBO Opinion: This is a well-established pack- age, which we’ve looked at before. As far as we can see the product itself is first class. However, finding enough customers to make it pay and signing them up could be very hard work indeed. There also seem to be a lot of existing UW agents, so chances are you’d face stiff competition.
WBO Rating: 3/5
You join Utility Warehouse by being recruited by an existing Utility Warehouse agent.
Opportunity Description: Yogabellies offer exten- sive training in pregnancy and post-natal (mum and baby) yoga, giving you full yoga teacher certification through their 200-hour independent yoga network course. They also offer training to become a baby massage instructor. They say you can make £300+ per week for teaching two classes.
Cost To Start: £425-£3,995.
WBO Opinion: I’m quite impressed by this niche take on what is a well established pursuit – yoga. And I’d imagine the right person could do quite well with it. (It probably needs some previous experience in yoga though.) Although, £4,000 does seem quite a lot to pay for something that’s intended to be a sideline.
WBO Rating: 4/5
Tel. 0781 786 4336
(All of these packages are promoted on the Mumsclub website as being suitable for Mumpreneurs.)
More opportunities and ideas
Free blueprints from What Biz Opp
Over the last few years we have researched quite a few business ideas that make great Mumpreneur/ homepreneur businesses.
Here are a few that I think are worth another look. If you’re interested in taking them further then you can download full blueprints right here FOR FREE:
- This is perfect if you’re interested in interior design. Set up a home staging service.
- Ideal for crafters. Make and sell crafts… but do it online.
- Planning and running children’s parties… but as a business. This blueprint explains how to do it without paying a penny in franchise fees.
- How to become a domestic energy assessor.
- This has to be one of my favourite Mumpreneur-type businesses ever. Running dance and fitness classes in retirement homes.
- Sunday market trading. A more upmarket kind of market trading, and weekends only.
- Lettings inventory assistant. Ideal part time, home based opportunity. Suited to both men and women.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about the Mumpreneur/homepreneur business scene as much as I have enjoyed researching into it for you.
It seems to me that Mums really do know a thing about business. They pluck great business ideas out of their own lifestyles – products and services that they would buy and use themselves. They make them really user and family friendly. And they find ways of integrating great business ideas into social circles. Not only that, they just go out and do it, even if they don’t have much capital or time to spare!
And the really exciting things is that, with a few exceptions – and maybe a little tweaking – mumpreneur businesses aren’t the sole preserve of mums. Really anybody can use the same principles to build a successful business.