YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL
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Leaving the kids with Grandma or a nanny before heading to work used to be the way most working mums had to go about earning a living. But times have changed.
More than any other generation, today’s millennial mums believe it is possible to have it all; dedicating time to raise their kids without having to trade their laptops for an apron.
That is why an increasing number of millennial mums are opting for jobs that allow exible work-at-home arrangements, or starting their own businesses.
The number of mumpreneurs – women who start a business after having a kid – in Mums@Work’s database has seen a whopping 35-fold increase, from about 100 to 3,500, over the last seven years. The local career portal supports mums looking for work-life balance.
Technology, says its founder and mum-of-two, Sher-li Torrey, has evened out the playing eld for these Internet-savvy women.
“Back then, we had to explain what a mumpreneur is, but there is greater awareness now,” says Sher-li, who is also the co-founder of Career Navigators Singapore, a platform that helps mothers who have taken a career hiatus return to the workforce.
Another interesting trend she has observed is that more PMEs (professionals, managers and executives) – including accountants, lawyers and doctors – are stepping out of the full-time workforce to explore business ownership.
At the same time, the types of mumpreneurial start-ups have evolved.
“Our Start a Biz workshop typically saw women who wanted to start kidswear businesses. But these days, they are very varied; we’ve seen B-to-B (businessto-business) start-ups, consultation services, home-made crafts, and more,” adds Sher-li.
In addition, the trend has spurred companies to provide more exible work options for mums.
The number of rms in Singapore providing ad-hoc exible work arrangements – which includes working out-ofofce – rose from 70 per cent in 2015 to 77 per cent last year, according to an employment survey by the Ministry of Manpower.
“While I won’t say there has been a very huge hike, what’s interesting is that most companies are now less reluctant to offer work-fromhome options. At our recent career fair, we had companies like Microsoft, Mastercard and BDO Consulting specically offering work-from-home jobs for certain roles,” says Sher-li.
Elynn Liew, a former HR executive and mum-of-two who founded Careermums, an online job portal, has seen a 50 per cent rise in the number of work-from-home job listings in the last seven years.
“A number of our clients are young business owners who may be parents themselves. Some of them specically want to hire mothers because they understand their work-life balance struggles, and know that they have talents and skills to offer,” she says.
While there are now more opportunities than ever for mums to start a business or work at home, the pressing question is: How do you make it work? Here’s what you need to know before you take the plunge.
You need the right attitude – and a marathoner’s endurance
Are you ready to plough on with deadlines when everyone else has called it a day, and maybe work harder than if you were at a full-time job?
Do you mind taking risks and not have a stable income? These are hard questions that you will have to ask yourself, say mumpreneurs and WAHMs (work-at-home mums).
Audrey Tan, 30, who brought Korean churros brand Churro 101 to Singapore, says multitasking with running a business and raising kids requires tremendous stamina and endurance.
The mum of two kids aged two years old and seven months old survived only on two hours of sleep daily when her business rst took off about two years ago.
“There are no shortcuts and you can’t cut corners,” says Audrey.
So don’t even think about it if you’re not the driven, strong-minded, self-motivated, disciplined type. Without these traits, warns Su Ling Zagorodnova, founder and director of webstore Pupsik Studio, you will give up at the rst sign of difculty.
Ample family support is crucial
This is the key to success. Su Ling says her husband is her “cheerleader” whenever the going gets tough.
“Starting a business is already very challenging, and more so when you’re doing it and caring for a baby. Financially, emotionally and physically, family support – especially from your husband – is very important,” says the mumpreneur with three kids.
Elynn of Careermums says many work-from-home jobs still require you to occasionally go back to the ofce or out for appointments, so “back-up” help from family is essential.
In fact, it’s so important that Sher-li suggests reconsidering working at home or starting a business if your family members aren’t supportive of the idea or do not respect your work-athome hours.
Find a space to call your own
If there’s one thing mumpreneurs and WAHMs can agree on, it’s the importance of having your own work space – one that is not invaded by nappies, toys or spit-ups.
“You must – and I can’t stress this enough – have a dedicated work area in your home. Once I close the door of my work room, to take an important work call, for example, my kids know that no amount of knocking will make me open it,” quips Elynn.
Sher-li says this personal boundary also applies for work timings. If your designated work time is between 8am and 11am when your kid is in school, no