On a cold and rainy Tuesday morning, 15 business owners sit chatting excitedly.
But they’re not just any business owners. They’re mumpreneurs – juggling motherhood and business simultaneously; doing what they can to contribute to the household income, while enjoying the flexibility to spend more time with their family.
The Canberra Business Mums group meets twice a month to talk about their business ventures, seek advice, support each other and benefit from the referrals and social media connections the group provides.
Suzanne Barnes, the group’s facilitator says, “We’re in our third year and we just keep getting bigger. We’ve been running two sessions a month, one on the northside in Gungahlin, and the other in Queanbeyan. To cope with capacity we’ll probably need to increase this soon.”
Sitting in a large circle and taking turns to talk about their businesses, the group comprises of a multitude of business-types, including: an accountant, photographer, yoga instructor, web designer, event planner, celebrant, organiser, consultant, and a combination of unique product-based businesses including crochet, gifts and stationary and hampers.
Despite the rain and sub-zero temperatures, the women are in high-spirits, sipping the Siren Bar’s decadent hot chocolate and chatting away. A number of kids ranging from a few months to a few years sit quietly, seeming to enjoy the change of scenery and sea of happy faces.
When RiotACT asks the women what they love about the group, celebrant Lisa Teasdale says, “Traditional networking is really hard with kids. And I wanted a group that could help me spread the word about my business, but who also knew what I was going through and support me.”
“It’s about bringing people together and providing a supportive environment,” says Ms Barnes. “We don’t charge membership fees, because we want it to remain informal and relaxed.”
Ms Barnes also manages the group’s popular Facebook page, which enables the mumpreneurs to promote their products and services via social sharing.
“It’s really great for referrals,” says Kylie Stewart, who specialises in unique cards and stationary.
Started in 2013 by Fiona Allardyce, the group has supported many women over the years – some of whom have gone on to run successful small businesses, and others who may have returned to work but maintain their business interests on the side.
“I went to professional networking events before I had kids,” says professional organiser Virginia Wells. “But afterwards, taking your child to a networking event just feels awkward. This way, I get to have the networking experience, but with people who are in the same boat as I am.”
For more information on Canberra Business Mums, visit their Facebook page.