Women might be able to have it all, but it’s sure as hell not coming easy.
That’s the key take-away from research conducted by creative platform, 99Designs which shows the majority of mothers who run a business (51%) are clocking up the equivalent of a full-time working week in caregiving roles on top of managing their venture.
The survey of nearly 2000, also found that 30 percent of mothers spend 50+ hours a week looking after their family compared to just 10 percent of entrepreneurial dads.
Jess Wraight, founder of beauty business Your Face says these obscene hours are largely attributed to the guilt mothers face in juggling competing priorities.
“I honestly think the biggest challenge women in business feel is un-forgiving guilt. You want to be the best mum you can be, but your business also needs love and attention to survive and giving them both the attention they need is damn hard!”
Striving for the perfect balance is often unattainable leaving many business-owning mums feeling like they’re failing in all aspects.
“Intentions and plans are consistently being made to prepare wholesome foods for the family, quality play time together after dinner and promises to set the alarm at 5am tomorrow to get a few hours of work in before the world wakes,” says Wraight.
“In reality, you are juggling a pot of boiling soup on the stove, a laptop open with a scary to do list, the toddler feeding the dog from her highchair and wet washing glaring at you from the washing machine.”
“Some days you’re kicking goals and other days you’re eating take away pizza and yelling defeat.”
Another huge barrier prohibiting women from getting ahead, is that they’re managing their ventures with far less capital than their male counterparts. while almost half of fathers who run a business have raised over $50,000 in external funding, only 28 percent of mothers have raised the same amount.
Julie Peadon, founder of Julie Peadon Art says that financial pressures for small business owning women are immense and ongoing.
“There are so many variables and uncertainties,” she says.
“There is the concern about start up funds and investment, an increase in overheads, the worry of marketing and generating business and the lumpy cashflow which you don’t experience with a PAYG salary.”
As a single mum, Peadon’s success is wholly predicated on “drive, passion, creativity, hard work, long hours, family and community support”. As well as “a good amount of humour and optimism” she tells us.
But there’s only so far a spirited pursuit will get you.
Both women suggest that governments could do a lot more to support women in business (and particularly mothers) given the huge contribution they make to the broader economy.
While Peadon acknowledges there are good, government-supported resources for small business owners she suggests that different tiers and agencies of government come together to share this information more widely.
“This small business gig is hard work. There’s a lot of information out there as to how to go about running your business but its hard to find all the information in one spot as businesses can be so unique,” she says.
“It’s about the various levels of government and departments like Centrelink, Service NSW and the Department of Industry working towards better information sharing and connectedness.”
Wraight adds that better support for women in key areas like quality and affordable childcare and alleviating general cost of living pressures would also markedly improve the prospects for female-owned small businesses and allow them to thrive.
“Childcare can be very expensive and mis- calculated when you consider two working parents who are invested in their small business,” she says. “The salary calculations can incorrectly measure subsidies and cost a small fortune.”
“With both parents working and expenses on the up, there needs to be some kind of support to help working women re- enter the workforce and support their endeavours; both financially and logistically.” Wraight also notes that greater parental leave schemes for fathers would be hugely beneficial.
“I think women are amazing at pulling out strength and determination we never knew we had! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could use these superpowers for good rather than sheer survival?”