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'Mompreneurs': raising children while running a business

Between naps, snacks, laundry, story time, and playtime, Wendy Trager is trying to start a business.

She has a good idea for making upscale wedding favors, has developed a contact who can help her market the product, and has already begun a business selling "emergency baskets" of practical items for brides and grooms.

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But Ms. Trager also has a 2-year-old, and sometimes, she's found, business takes a back seat to Sydney. "I wanted the flexibility of having my own business," said Trager, who lives in Stamford, Conn. "I didn't ever want to have to ask permission from someone to leave work because my baby was sick. But it's been harder than I expected."

Trager is part of a growing number of women who develop home-based businesses to spend more time with their children while also earning an income.

According to the National Foundation of Women Business Owners, of the 3.5 million home-based, women-owned businesses.in the United States, 2.1 are owned by women with children.

Two working mothers, Ellen Parlapiano and Patricia Cobe, wrote "Mompreneurs: A Mother's Step by Step Guide to Work-at-Home Success," about the phenomenon, and have now just published "Mompreneurs Online: Using the Internet to Build Work-at-Home Success."

"We had our own businesses, but we realized there wasn't any information out there from a mom's point of view," says Ms. Parlapiano, who recently led a workshop on "mompreneurship." "The skills we have as mothers are very transferable to business. You have to juggle, be well-organized, patient, and disciplined."

During the workshop, the mothers who attended brainstormed ideas ranging from speechwriting to freelance geriatric care. Most home-based businesses owned by mothers are in consulting, homemade-food sales, crafts, or services such as event-planning, Parlapiano said.

The website Home-Based Working Moms (www.hbwm.com), run by Lesley Spencer of Austin, Texas, also provides information to mothers interested in entrepeneurship. Finding flexible, affordable child care is one of the largest issues such moms face, says Spencer.

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"There is no one solution that fits all situations since it depends on the business and how much time you need," she says, adding that bringing in a mother's helper, arranging classes for children after school, and participating in a care exchange are all possible solutions.


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