Mother, Daughter and Micro-Business Challenges


This is a guest blog by a very talented and dedicated micro-business owner Her business is based online and she does a lot of time sensitive “teleconferencing” as part of her job. We were talking about some of the micro-business challenges we face and I decided to turn her email into a guest blog! LOVE.

Women in microbusiness startups

Image via Awkward Family Photos

Daughters in business and mothers oblivious

My mother often calls me at 9.30 in the morning and tell me that some kids boutique or shoe store is having a big one day sale and we should go, then have some lunch….I ask if my sister is coming – she replies “oh no, she’s at work” and I can hear in her voice she thinks that I’ve been out of the workforce so long I’ve forgotten that people actually work.

In actual fact, I run WAHM Biz/Micro-Business/Growing Small Business/ Work Life Balance Business / Lifestyle Business – whatever label makes you happiest, I have 1-5 employees (me being the one and a contract admin/bookkeeper who is also her own WAHM biz). Like most micro-businesses owners that are growing successes, I put in about a million hours a week for my 50-100k salary. So, I make a standard wage but my hourly rate is very, very low – but some day I hope to live on a dessert island (yes I mean an island with free flowing chocolate sauce) while my business works for me. I have two children; one just started prep, the other is a terrible two. My hubby works in a safe secure middle management job.

I am a mother, manager, marketer, meal and money maker – I am also a little sister. I love my big sister more than anything. She’s four years my senior, works as an Executive Assistant in a city law firm, has one son (aged 14 and a good kid) and a husband in a nice, safe secure, public service job.

So, why am I telling you this? This is actually all about our mother. Our mother is a well meaning lady who delights in her grandchildren and her gardening. She was a teacher before we were born and went back to it once we were teens. She’s now retired. Growing up she was “firm but fair” and I never saw her as favouring either one of us. Now that we’re adults, and mothers ourselves though, I am seeing a distinct change in how she treats us.

I had passed it off as a generational thing – an expectation of mothers to mother, not work….but quite frankly, with a mortgage, nobody is just sitting at home nurturing young minds these days…and she knows that. Here is the issue…

The great gastro outbreak of 2013

Yesterday, I had two teleconferences with clients and a big job that needed doing. It was my mum’s day to look after my two year old. She called last minute to cancel. Why? Because she’s caring for my nephew who has terrible gastro and she’d hate my two year old to catch it. OK, my nephew is sick. Special circumstances. I am cancelling my clients and pushing back my job (again – lucky I have some understanding clients)….but wait…. where is my sister and her husband?

They’re at work.

So this is where I get confused about right and wrong. Firstly, she doesn’t have to care for my children…it’s a help to me (although she’d be very upset if I stopped her from doing it) so when she cancels or switches days because it was the only day she could get in to see the doctor/hairdresser/accountant/sale at Myer, I have to suck it up and ask my clients politely to reschedule again (I do online mentoring courses to regional and not for profit….blah blah boring). We could afford to send our children to day care but I would much rather mum have that time with them and my mother wants it that way too.

When my sister has an issue with her (almost grown) son, my needs take an instant backseat. It’s not because she loves my sister or my nephew any more than my family. It’s not because she feels that my nephew has any special needs that only she can fill.

It’s that my sister works.

And that was the answer she gave me when I asked where my sister and husband were during the great gastro outbreak of 2013.

Your sister is at work. She works. She can’t just take time off work.

Ohhhhhhhhhh. Right. My sister works – not like me, who spends 16 hours a day doing paper work and planning (*insert boring job stuff*) for giggles.

Even though my sister’s employment package includes 15 annual paid “personal days” on top of her holidays – three of which she reserves to go to Melbourne for a boozy cup celebration every year…. don’t get me wrong, I’m not jealous (well not much) and I wouldn’t give up my biz for anything but really, my sister’s generous leave package is for times exactly like this – in fact, it’s the definition of personal leave.

Oh no….your sister can’t just call in sick – she’d end up fired. No amount of explanation regarding personal leave will convince my mother otherwise. And her husband? Unionised-workplace-employee-and-daddy-to-the-poor-suffering-14-year-old? Even more outrageous is the idea that the father would take that day off.

Yes it’s her generation. Yes it’s probably a bit of personal enjoyment caring for her nearly-all-grown-up first born grandbaby. It doesn’t stop me feeling like she’s dismissive of what I do, that she doesn’t respect my life choices and that she sees my business as a “little thing I do for fun and shoe money”.

The problem with micro-businesses run by women

I will say too that it’s not just mothers….my accountant point blank refused to sign me up for GST for my little “hobby business” as, despite me earning close to the threshold last financial year, he thought with my big girl going to prep, I’d be able to get back to work soon. And he’s 27….and a jerk.

It’s the women on the P&C (big mistake, never, ever, ever go to a P&C meeting), my neighbours, suppliers and even occasionally, my husband and kids who are dismissive of a mum run work at home business.

So to all the work at home mother micro lifestyle mini businesses with a new tapered cover and wings owners out there, you are not alone in the challenges you face. It’s not hard enough balancing work commitments with family commitments – it’s doing it despite the attitudes everyone around us. Even the attitudes of the feminists who paved the way for EXACTLY this; women making choices that are best for themselves and their families…and now, society. If this isn’t what you’re facing then WOOT WOOT – tell us how you did it, please!

So sisters, you always heard that the feminist battle was still being fought. It’s not just in the boardroom and the bedroom, it turns out it’s in the spare room too.

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1 Comment

  1. A great read. While I have a very supportive mother and mother-in-law who help out with my kids as needed, there is very much the idea that it is ‘easier’ for us stay at home mums to take a day off work to look after sick children, etc. When you run a small business and are the only person in your business, taking a day off (for whatever reason) generally means that not only is there no one else doing the work for you, money doesn’t come in while you are not working.


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