Enterprising women: business and motherhood
Does being a great mum mean putting your career on hold? Is it possible to raise a child while, simultaneously, contributing financially to the household? Or are ‘Mum’ and ‘career-woman’ mutually exclusive?
It wasn’t all that long ago that many women in Australia were faced with the choice of nurturing their career or nurturing a family.
And, for some, it’s still a battle.
Research from Connecting Australia, AlphaBeta’s first national economic and social study into the impact of the nbn™ broadband access network (commissioned by NBN Co), shows almost half of Australia’s working women in senior positions want greater flexibility in their working life – for 40 per cent of these women, this relates to their role as a parent.
Yet, in positive news, the research also reveals that broadband connectivity is helping contribute to a boom in female entrepreneurship – especially among mums.
Ninety-two per cent of self-employed women are mothers – 80 per cent with dependent children – with many taking advantage of access to fast broadband to help propel their business and career aspirations.
Two enterprising women successfully combining business and motherhood are Natalie Andrew and Donna Lee Marçal.
Meet Andrew and Marçal
In two equally appealing locations in regional New South Wales, you’ll find Andrew and Marçal hard at work on their burgeoning businesses.
Based in beachside Whitebridge, Andrew is the creative mind behind Natty Designs, a range of fun and quirky customisable jewellery, while Marçal in Katoomba runs Dermatonics, a natural skincare line exclusive to clinics.
Both women have built businesses that reach far beyond their local areas with the help of services over the nbn™ access network.
For Andrew, designing fashion products was a childhood dream.
Eventually, it evolved into a hobby and, then, a business: Natty Designs was born after the arrival of two daughters fuelled a desire for greater work flexibility.
“As a child I always had a creative flare, but it wasn't until I was planning my wedding that my passion to create surfaced again.
“I started making greeting cards and a steady stream of friends started buying them. Then, after my first child, it occurred to me I could sell them further afield.”
Since then, Andrew has moved away from cards and, predominantly, into making jewellery.
“I’m a big lover of patterns and colour, and really thrive on the challenge of creating an easy way for people to express their own personality and style through their jewellery.”
And while it’s clear creativity is at the heart of Andrew’s business, so too is connectivity.
“Fast broadband is essential for my business. I use it to maintain my online store, check and maintain stock levels and stay responsive to customers.1
“It’s great having the ability to upload images to my e-commerce site quickly, while simultaneously checking emails and performing other online tasks without any lag. It makes a huge difference to my productivity.”1
For Marçal, the idea for Dermatonics was sparked when she spotted a gap in the market.
“I was tired of seeing products on the market that didn’t live up to what they claimed on the packet or in the ads, or were not good for sensitive skin and contained harsh chemicals. It drove a desire to create an amazing, effective skincare range.”
Enter Marçal’s natural, Australian-made and scientifically formulated offering.
With a doctorate in Biochemistry, Marçal was expertly placed to create such a solution – yet, that wasn’t all that drove the scientist-turned-entrepreneur: “I was attracted to the idea of working for myself. Working the way I want to was a huge factor.”
Marçal is far from alone in her desire for flexibility.
By 2021, the growth of self-employed women is expected to soar to more than 52,000, with female entrepreneurs 20 times more likely to emerge in nbn™-connected regions than non-nbn™-connected regions.*
Already, by 2017, up to 3,400 women were self-employed and working part time with the help of services over the nbn™ access network.^
In Marçal’s case, being able to work the way she wants has (so far) resulted in two successful business brands.
“As well as Dermatonics, we have a second brand, Relievamed, which focuses on natural muscle and joint products. We develop each natural topical therapeutic formula ourselves and bring them to market.”
Some may have fresh sea breezes, others treetop views and, others still, dusty red plains as far as the eye can see.
What nbn™-connected regional areas have in common, though, is growth in self-employed women.
The Connecting Australia research shows female self-employment in nbn™-connected regional areas grew by an average of 2.4 per cent a year compared to a drop of 0.8 per cent in non-nbn™-connected regions.*#
And while both Andrew and Marçal successfully run their businesses from their respective regional locations, that – and motherhood – aren’t all they share.
They both also have serious plans to use connectivity to help power their next phase of business.
Going forth and conquering
In Andrew’s immediate future is making the most of modern education opportunities.
“Not only do I plan to grow my online e-commerce business, I'm also studying online, which involves live webinar trainings and watching large amounts of recorded content.1
“Without a fast internet connection, I wouldn’t be able to do these courses. It would have been a major deciding factor as to whether I would have pursued further professional development.”
Meanwhile, Marçal’s connectivity plans involve Going Glocal.
“Our business will be expanding globally. With the internet, we can easily reach potential clients overseas before we physically expand over there. We can create interest and hype online in various countries before launching.
“It will also allow us to test the waters to determine which countries may be the best for expansion. It would be much harder and more expensive to do this without the internet.”
The mother of all businesses
If there’s one thing Andrew and Marçal want to make clear, it’s this: women can be fantastic mums and successful business owners – all with a little help from connectivity.
Says Andrew, “Women want to continue a career, maintain some independence and contribute financially, but still have flexibility around the children.
“The boom of the ‘laptop lifestyle’ and building a life on our terms all coincides with the fast-paced world we live in. Faster broadband helps us to achieve it by allowing the flexibility to work in and around family life.”
“There is an ease to working from home and running businesses online now. Women can work the hours they want to instead of physically needing to be at a specific location.
“Typical nine-to-five work schedules just don’t fit well with a young family. We can work hours that we dictate and, therefore, be there for our kids and be at events as we need to. You can work ‘after hours’ when the kids are in bed, if need be, too.”
With the Connecting Australia research predicting up to 24,850 additional businesses in New South Wales will be attributable to the nbn™ access network by 2021, Andrew and Marçal will certainly be in great company.
^ Connecting Australia: Enterprising women report, page 13
# Connecting Australia: Enterprising women report, page 17
~ Connecting Australia: Enterprising women report, page 15