One in 24 Irish women is an early-stage entrepreneur, although men are 2.5 times more likely than women to set up their own business, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM).
However, six of the 32 finalists in the Small Firms Association’s National Small Business Awards – to be held on 12 March – are women, running companies in the food and drink, corporate relocation and software sectors.
Miriam Ahern, who owns and manages Align Management Solutions, reckons a woman needs to be creative about her career if she wants to have a family. “It depends on your mindset. If you think you can only progress within an established corporation, you’re setting a narrow track for yourself. If, on the other hand, you look at your experience and capabilities and see how far you can take them yourself, that opens up a whole different field of options.”
One woman who has taken such an approach is Darina Loakman. She runs Iamawahm.com, which provides support to women working from home. She was named DÃºn Laoghaire-Rathdown Female Entrepreneur in 2006 and is currently running a ‘Doing your Business in your Bathrobe’ competition on the site.
“I was working outside the home until April 2005 and finished for a combination of reasons,” she says. “One of the main ones was I had three children in full-time childcare, which was costing me â‚¬30,000 a year before tax. I felt I wanted to do something myself so I would have more control over my time. I hadn’t a clue what to do at first, so I started to look on the internet. I found lots of ‘work-at-home-mom’ websites with irrelevant US content. Because I wished there was something there to assist me to work from home, I came up with the idea of providing just that.”
The site offers tools, information and resources and Loakman runs a weekly podcast called ‘Mumcentric’.
One of the greatest myths about home working, she says, is that you won’t need childcare. “You can cut down your bill significantly, but you do need some form of childcare –maybe getting someone into the house for a couple of hours or putting the kids in a creche three mornings a week. The flexibility is great; if your children are sick you can check on them.”
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