Working From Home Careers

Pivoter Sub-Group 1: Mom-preneurs

There were two distinct subgroups within the Pivoters I interviewed and surveyed. The first were those who became entrepreneurs. Kriste is emblematic of a Pivoter who, in using her pause to springboard into a new career trajectory, became an entrepreneur. And she is not alone. In fact, 27 percent of the Women on the Rise survey respondents who relaunched said they too had chosen to go it on their own.

For those Pivoters who became entrepreneurs, the sizes of the businesses they created varied widely. For many of these women, entrepreneurship meant a “single shingle”32 or “cupcake” business that brought in just enough income to cover their expenses while allowing them to be active and engaged mothers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as of 2012, 89 percent of female-owned businesses have no other employees than the owner. As one Women on the Rise respondent shared, “Having my own company allows me to work around the kids’ schedules. I love having something that is mine and independent from my kids’ worlds and my world as mother.”

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Pivoter Kriste Michelini’s interior design firm was a “cupcake” business at first. So was public relations whiz Lee Caraher’s company. When she put out her “shingle” she never imagined how successful her agency would become. Today, Double Forte is one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s leading public relations and marketing services firms, with over twenty-five employees on staff, in addition to a vast network of consultants who help out as needed. As you can imagine, Lee is a passionate supporter of entrepreneurship for women.

“The power and freedom that comes from running your own business cannot be underestimated,” Lee told me. “It made all of the difference for me and I believe can unlock the path to true success for women overall.”

Don’t be fooled by these “cupcake” businesses. As Kriste and Lee experienced, these businesses often become hugely successful. According to a 2014 Majority Report of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, female-owned businesses account for nearly 30 percent of all business in the United States.33 They created 23 million jobs, which accounts for 16 percent of all jobs in the United States. The growth of women-owned businesses outpaces all other privately held firms,34 up 26 percent since 2007.35 Women-led businesses brought in receipts of $1.3 trillion for their owners.36 Not a bad payday, if you ask me.

Around Silicon Valley, women and entrepreneurship is a heated topic. A recent report by the Kauffman Foundation37 notes that 97 percent of technology start-ups are founded by men and only 7 percent of venture-backed start-ups have a woman on the executive team. Meanwhile, ambitious female entrepreneurs have been frustrated for years by the lack of access to capital. Only 2.7 percent of venture-backed start-ups are led by women,38 perhaps partly because only 4 percent of venture capitalists are women.

Women, money, and entrepreneurship are a good recipe for controversy. Add the word “mother” into the mix and, well, that’s as close to a deal breaker as it can get. As one venture capitalist said to me only half-jokingly, “Mom-preneurs can’t get no respect.”

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