Having children can change your life in many ways, whether you're a mum or a dad. Your priorities will change significantly, including the importance you place on your career and your reasons for working.

And while a recent Office for National Statistics analysis suggests mothers with young children here in the UK are more likely to go back to or begin full-time work these days than 20 years ago, there's also evidence that many mums are thinking about making a change where their careers are concerned.

According to a Workingmums.co.uk survey, the majority of women think about leaving their jobs or industry sector as a result of becoming a parent. The survey found that almost two thirds of mums (64%) are interested in retraining, while 58% have considered setting up their own business. 

Other highlights from the survey included:

  • 36% of women surveyed said they were considering starting a business or franchise because they needed more work flexibility
  • 15% said they were interested in starting a business because they wanted to be their own boss
  • 17% said setting up their own business is something they'd always wanted to do
  • Almost 7 out of 10 women said they were just thinking about setting up in business, while 15% had already started the ball rolling and 10% were working on their business plan

Flexible working

A year before the Workingmums study was published, the Start Up Loans Company - the organisation that delivers the government's Start Up Loans programme to businesses finding it difficult to access finance - came up with its own statistics based on its survey of British mums and dads. This study suggests three quarters of British parents want to start their own business. The top 3 reasons for doing so include:

  • Increased flexibility
  • The ability to be your own boss
  • Potential earnings

The survey also found that the number of children in a family may influence parents as to why they want to set up a company. Parents with one child said potential earnings were their main goal; those with 2 or 3 children wanted more work flexibility; while parents with 4 children said being their own boss was the most important outcome of going into business for themselves. 

Career change

Retraining is an ideal option if you want to start a new career that accommodates your new priorities as a parent. Changing career doesn't have to mean you leave behind the skills and experience you've already acquired. In fact retraining is an effective way to boost your existing skills, which could also help you identify new professional opportunities. 

If you're not sure what retraining would mean for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do you want most out of a new role/career? 
  • Are you lacking skills or qualifications that would help you get the job you want?
  • Do you have skills you enjoy that you could develop further?
  • Do you have interests or hobbies you could develop that may help you in a new role or career?

If you have a good idea of what type of new role or career you want to pursue, try to find out as much about it as possible. This could help you identify retraining opportunities that may be useful. 

To start with, look up the profile of the job you're interested in on the National Careers Service website for more information (the website includes more than 800 different types of job profiles). This will give you an idea of the skills and qualifications you'll need, what you can expect from the job in question (including how much you could get paid) and what the career prospects are.

You can also find out more about retraining, including how to find the right course or training programme, by reading our article Retraining for a new career

Starting a business

If, on the other hand, you've decided to set up your own business, it's quite likely you've already got a good idea of what that business should be. The Start Up Loans Company offers some useful tips for parents setting up their own business, including the following:

Get advice and mentoring from existing business owners

Mentoring is essential when starting a business. So if you have a friend or family who is self-employed, ask if they will help mentor you and draw on their experiences.

Remember why you set up in business in the first place

For instance, if your main goal is to have more flexibility, make a list of all the things you'll do when you find yourself with some free time on your hands. This may give you the encouragement you need to succeed.

How CABA can help

Here at CABA our business start-up support can help you achieve your dreams of starting your own business. We also offer a range of career development support, including career coaching and personal and professional development courses. 

Our services are free and available to all past and present ICAEW members and their families, regardless of your employment status. We also have a careers microsite with lots of helpful resources to support you, whether you're thinking of retraining or working for yourself. 

For more advice and information, call +44 (0) 1788 556 366 or chat to an advisor online 24 hours a day.

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