The Rise of Parent Entrepreneurs
New research commissioned by Hoop reveals that a quarter of a million parents are starting businesses after feeling ‘pushed out’ of their old jobs. Meet the parents risking it all for the family activity space and find out why they went it alone
For some, the start of a new year means it’s time to hit the gym, lose a few pounds or learn something new. But for a huge 39% of parents we polled, this is rather monumentally the year that they plan to start their own businesses.
It’s no easy decision to make the plunge and go it alone, so we spoke to 2,000 parents to understand the drivers behind the decision to go for it. We wanted to understand how much of their decision was impacted by parenthood and the often impractical challenges of nursery/ school opening and closing hours, school holidays and the financial implications of childcare.
Astoundingly, our data reveals that an estimated quarter of a million parents started their businesses after feeling ‘pushed out’ of the workplace after having children.
Carly Smallman and Alyssa Kyria the founders of Bring Your Own Baby Comedy shared, ‘We both found ourselves in, to be honest, rubbish jobs where we were being treated badly and were generally fed up. We decided to form a business together and take back control of our lives!’
They aren’t alone, in fact within this group, a quarter of working mums and dads (24%) said that the inflexibility of a previous workplace was a key driving factor encouraging them to go it alone. This encompasses a lack of understanding about time restrictions put on parents, team changes made whilst they were on leave, not feeling like they had a job to return to and feeling directly ‘pushed out’ of their prior role. Additionally, the desire to spend more time with the kids was the reason 31% wanted to go it alone.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the impact is felt most by mums. 20% of mums (twice the number of dads) felt that nursery hours and school drop off times didn’t work with their office hours and commute. On top of this 1 in 5 mums (vs 1 in 10 dads) just didn’t feel that their job was suitable to looking after the kids in the school holidays.
Laura Edwards and Moya McGinn, who founded weekly music, drama and sensory classes with ZipZap explained:
‘We wanted to build a business which could work around our families and create a flexible income so we can be around for their important milestones and moments, and decided to start our own business around 4 years ago - we have been operating for 3 years now.’
The rewards of starting up a business are plenty, in fact half of self-employed parents (49%) report feeling happier and a third more empowered (33%). A quarter (24%) of this growing cohort say they started up after feeling the urge to transform a passion project into a business, and the same amount (24%) wanted to use their existing skills in a different way.
Jennifer Mushumani is an example of one such parent entrepreneur. A former actress, Jennifer became a franchisee of Debutots – a class on Hoop that’s focused on learning through interactive storytelling and dramatic play – after having her two children. Jennifer explains:
“This job was the perfect choice for me, as it combined my expertise in drama, a love of working with children, plus also my administration and organisational skills. I’d often thought about running my own business, and I’m so glad that I had the courage to take the plunge. I also love the flexibility. I now have more control over my working hours and can be there for my children whilst they are growing up without giving up on my own passions and dreams.”
Of course it’s not all plain sailing. Starting a business comes with its own unique set of frustrations and challenges. This includes, fluctuating finances (23%), people not taking parent entrepreneurs seriously (19%) and the lack of a ready-made support network (16%). One in eight (13%) also admit to feeling lonely.
Mhairi Veall, owner of soft-play activity provider Bouncy Bunnies explains:
‘It is a daily challenge and there is no 'clocking-off' or real business hours, which does take some getting used to. However I absolutely wouldn't change it for the world, and know I made the completely right decision for me for this period in my life. I love that everything is my decision and that the effort I put in directly reaps the returns.’
This is something Carly Smallman and Alyssa Kyria of Bring Your Own Baby understand only too well:
‘We love that we can set our own schedule - although sometimes this works against us as we are up till the early hours working on BYOBaby - we are obsessed! We have such a laugh together and it's just amazing working with your best friend.'
The tide is turning, childcare, nursery and school opening hours, office hours, and the school holidays are challenging for working parents and so they are responding by taking control. A combination of making an existing passion a reality and the advancements of technology are giving new parents the opportunity to shape work around their lives. This is hugely positive, but clearly there’s an issue around inflexibility in the workplace that also needs to be addressed to stop talent being pushed away.
The rewards for going it alone aren’t just financial, Laura Edwards and Moya McGinn, founders of ZipZap reveal:
‘The rewards of seeing children grow from a tiny 3-month-old to a confident and self-assured 3-year-old is amazing. The flexibility to work around our children and sometimes taking them along if necessary is also a huge bonus.’
If you’re reading this and you’re one of the 39% parents going for it this year… congrats! You’ve got this!
Read more inspiring stories from the parent entrepreneurs inspiring families across the UK here.
Hoop is the UK’s #1 place to discover and book family activities. Loved by 850,000+ families and relied on by over 10,000 leading activities providers nationwide. We’re dedicated to helping businesses to launch, grow and to thrive. Learn more about Hoop for Organisers here