So it seems that the term ‘mumpreneur’ has entered the English language officially, as it has been recognised by the Collins dictionary in its 11th edition.
I’m sure a fair few of you are really happy about this, happy that the status which you use to define yourselves has been given official recognition. Several of my friends on Twitter have said that this term makes them feel empowered and liberated.
Let me just say before I go off on a rant, that I am more than happy for anyone else who likes the word mumpreneur to use it. At least I understand what it means, and I absolutely defend anybody’s right to define themselves in any terms they choose.
I also continue to use the term on Motivating Mum – after all if it is an official buzzword in the ‘mums in business sector’, then I really need to get with the programme and keep up with the times.
However I can honestly say that I hate the term ‘mumpreneur’, and would very rarely refer to myself as such, if ever. I posted this opinion as a tweet recently and got the biggest response from any tweet I ever posted. Great for my ratings, but most of the replies were asking me why I felt so strongly. So I’ve tried to put some structure on my thoughts and my extreme negative reaction. It’s more than 140 characters worth, so here goes….
Feelings of Inadequacy
I first came across the term mumpreneur when I took over Motivating Mum last year. Back then I was new to the whole ‘mums in business’ scene, and the term ‘mumpreneur’ made me feel quite inadequate.
To my ears, a mumpreneur was someone who had started something new, forged out her own path, made a success for herself, at the same time as raising a family. There are many successful businesswomen who happen to be mums, that I would apply that label to, but I felt excluded by it – surely not me. I even blogged about it “Am I really a Motivating Mum?” I couldn’t even bear to use the term mumpreneur about myself, it just seemed wrong.
When I got more familiar with the word mumpreneur, I realised that most people were applying it to any woman who has children, and runs a business or works from home. OK, so that does include me then.
Once I got over that hurdle, I couldn’t help but be struck by what a linguistically awful and ugly word it is. I’m a bit of a language snob I’m afraid, and this word just makes me cringe.
When I hear the word entrepreneur, I hear the two French root words of it: ‘entre’ – between, and ‘prendre’ to take or carry.
So I can easily understand the original meaning of entrepreneur a go-between, or one who facilitates trade between others. I can also just about see how that meaning became bent to encompass anyone who struck out in business for themselves.
But mumpreneur? Following the same logic (which I just cant help with every new word I come across), that then means a mum-taker, or mum-carrier? It’s just truly awful.
Added to that the word mumpreneur just sounds so dreadful. When I hear it, I get two negative associations, first of all I hear mumps, and then when I hear some people who pronounce it mumprenyoooor, I can’t help but think of manure.
I realise that this linguistic nonsense is just me, but there it is, a personal pet hate. I’m a pedant and happy to be so.
Several people who saw my tweet rant against the term mumpreneur, replied to ask me – what other term would you use then?
When I’m writing, I sometimes use the term ‘mums in business’, or ‘businessmums’. That’s as close to the same meaning while still being recognisable English and not some French or American mumbo-jumbo
But I do also question whether we need a specific term to describe mums who happen to run businesses or businesswomen who happen to be mums?
I don’t tell the mums at the school gate that I am a mumpreneur, I just tell them I work from home or I run a business. I very rarely have to mention my business and the fact that I am a mum in the same breath, it’s just not relevant.
When I advertise events for mumpreneurs on my site or blog, I always get comments back – I don’t have children, can I come, or shame that’s no good for me, I’m a man.
Although my business targets mums who do or would like to run businesses as it appears to be an easily identifiable market segment, I don’t want to exclude anyone. If anyone wants to read my stuff, and or come to my events, I don’t care who employs them , what sex they are nor how many children they have, as long as they don’t mind the fact that children are always welcome at my events and allowances are always made for the needs of mums.
I am businesswoman, I am mum, I am both. But generally for myself I choose not to let one job colour or excuse the other.
There, I have ranted. I hate the term mumpreneur, because it makes some people feel inadequate, because it sounds so silly, and because I feel it is irrelevant.
However let me just finish by saying that these sting opinions are entirely my own, and I am more than happy to use the term mumpreneur to describe other people who define themselves that way. I get the feeling after reading the responses to my tweet, that mine is a minority opinion and that most of you will welcome this new word to the English language.
But at the end of the day, expressing a contrary opinion is one of the great joys of blogging, so thank you for listening.
If any of you would like to leave your comments and reactions below, I would love to hear them. Several people thought my tweet sounded gruff and unfriendly but that was never my intention, and I apologise if I have upset you.
Please leave your comments and links, below, mumpreneurs, mums, dads, childless people, children or whoever you are.