Practical Ecommerce

Being a Mom-preneur in a Man-preneur World

I was recently at a learning event for entrepreneurs. This group was made up of owners of businesses with revenues in the same range as StorkGifts, my company. The attendees were all men except for one other woman and me.

The moderator asked each of us to stand up and briefly describe our businesses. At the end of the introductions, the moderator, a man, made a comment directed towards the two mom-preneurs in the room. He called our businesses “lifestyle businesses.” He went on to tell us that it’s great to own and run a lifestyle business, but that does not make us entrepreneurs.

According to Merriam -Webster, an entrepreneur is “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” Lifestyle business is not found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, but according to Wikipedia (I hope my children forgive me for using Wikipedia), it is “a business that is set up and run by its founders primarily with the aim of sustaining a particular level of income and no more; or to provide a foundation from which to enjoy a particular lifestyle.”

My interpretation of this would mean that an entrepreneur could be running a lifestyle business. If he/she decides to and is able to grow the business beyond his/her lifestyle, and perhaps at some point sell the business and enter another venture, than he/she would no longer be a life style entrepreneur. Perhaps an entrepreneur has a lifestyle business, and decides to start up an additional business. Do all entrepreneurs start out running lifestyle businesses and then hopefully, at some point, grow the business enough to call it a business venture?

Why were only the two women in the room called out as running a lifestyle business? I run an online store, the other woman manufactures and sells (wholesale and retail) her own, patented product. One of the men in the room also runs an online store. One of the men is a personal trainer and just opened his own fitness facility. One of the men is a motivational speaker.

What made our businesses stand out as different from the others? Were we signaled out because we are women? Did the moderator assume that we put our family before our businesses? Did he assume that the men put their business before the family? Does it matter?

Unfortunately, I have no answers. I do know that his comment just motivated me to work harder and prove that a mom-preneur can be just as successful as a man-preneur. The success or lack thereof is dependent upon the industry, economics, and the smartness and/or drive of the owner – not the gender.

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Comments ( 7 )

  1. Pat September 10, 2013 Reply

    Just shows how little these men know. I started out very, very small – probably $1000/month of sales when I made everything I sold and raised 3 children, ran a house, hosted 3 exchange students and took care of 25 foster infants over some years. Now I just work at my business – kids are grown . I have always considered myself an entrepreneur – and one who also was able to give my children, house and husband my time. In my opinion, a much harder job than theirs….

    your quote – “a business that is set up and run by its founders primarily with the aim of sustaining a particular level of income and no more; or to provide a foundation from which to enjoy a particular lifestyle.”

    So they do not want to sustain a particular income (well, ok, maybe they want MORE) and do not want to enjoy a particular lifestyle – I pity them and their families.

    • Melissa Chelist September 17, 2013 Reply

      Obviously they DO want and expect a certain income; nobody is only running a business for the fun of it. Is the difference in the end goal? To eventually sell the business or to continue working on the business? Either way, it all boils down to money.

  2. Scott Fox, September 10, 2013 Reply

    Sounds pretty sexist to me, especially given that he did not single out the men with solopreneur businesses.
    Lifestyle businesses may not be attractive as investments to venture capitalists looking for 10x market share and revenue growth.
    But, as we talk about all the time in our forum for lifestyle entrepreneurs, more entrepreneurs than ever are prioritizing their own needs, interests, family, and yes, LIFESTYLE, over the demands of bosses and investors.
    Why not get your share of the Internet business revolution on your own terms?

    • Melissa Chelist September 17, 2013 Reply

      Thanks for your comment Scott! And yes, the moderator DID discuss those other benefits of being an entrepreneur.

  3. Kari Lody September 13, 2013 Reply

    You actually handled that very well…I would have said things that DON’T belong on here. ;-)

    • Melissa Chelist September 17, 2013 Reply

      Thanks Kari! I was very disturbed and actually considered leaving the event at the break. The other mom-preneur did leave the room for a bit to ‘cool off’.

  4. Jamie Kohler February 11, 2014 Reply

    I am wondering… did you call him out at this meeting and ask him to point out the differences between the woman’s businesses and an entrepreneurial business?

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