If sweatpants, carpools and PTA bake sales come to mind when you think of stay-at-home moms, chances are you have yet to meet a “mompreneur.” Not to worry, however. With a trend gaining this much momentum, you’re sure to meet one soon — or perhaps become one.

The rise of women-owned businesses

What glass ceiling? Recent statistics show that women-owned businesses are on the rise. According to the U.S. Census, the number of women-owned firms rose 26.8 percent from 2007 to 2012, from 7.8 to 9.9 million businesses. And those female bosses are out there hustling, too. The same source reports that the increase in receipts for women-owned firms outpaced that of all firms during the same period.

Why the surge in business girl power? It might have something to do with women (many of them mothers) searching for flexible schedules that allow them to work while staying heavily involved in the lives of their children — something they might not have been able to do in their prior, corporate careers.

Of course, it could also be due to the recent economic uncertainty sparked stay-at-home moms to find ways to earn some extra cash for their families. After all, necessity is the mother of invention (no pun intended). 

Big footsteps to follow

Moms looking to spread their entrepreneurial wings have some pretty inspiring footsteps to follow. Forbes lists JK Rowlling, author of the Harry Potter series, Diane Von Furstenberg, fashion designer, Xin Zhang, co-founder and co-CEO of SOHO China and Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post as a few of the nation’s most inspiring mompreneurs.

The hottest businesses for moms

OK, so maybe you’re not dreaming of becoming the next mom-turned-media-tycoon a la Huffington. So what kind of business can you run between naps, preschool drop-off, dance lessons and dinner prep? You might be surprised. From baby and child products (moms are certified experts, after all) to innovative apps and lifestyle blogs, there’s no shortage of creativity when it comes to the mompreneurial spirit. According to Entrepreneur.com, some of the most popular business trends for moms include:

• Social media websites

• “Green” and environmentally friendly products and services

• Mobile applications (particularly those that are family and mom-friendly)

• Franchises, particularly those in the health care, fitness and senior services industries

 

The challenges

A career that allows you to create your schedule and attend every soccer tournament or dance recital on those little ones’ calendars? What’s the downside? Well, the mompreneur track isn’t exactly free of roadblocks. U.S. News reports that one of the biggest challenges of starting your own business is finding a healthy work-life balance, and that is ironic when you consider many mothers start their own businesses for that reason. The ability to “clock out” to spend time with spouses and little ones can be compromised when you’re building a business, so setting boundaries is important. Additionally, it’s important for mompreneurs to keep their expectations realistic. According to Forbes, 90 percent of startups fail, whether they’re headed up by super moms or anyone else.

The outlook

If entrepreneurship is all about drive and passion, it’s safe to say the mompreneur trend is here to stay. Inc.com explores this concept when it outlines the reasons mothers make great entrepreneurs: They’ve got passion, purpose, a vision and a keen ability to multitask (algebra tutoring while browning hamburger, anyone?). Of course, if you’re seeking the entrepreneurial road, only you know if you’re up for the challenge. As they say, mom knows best.