Today I want to talk about a topic that is near and dear to my heart: women and entrepreneurship.
If you know me, you know that I finally took the plunge and started my business shortly after having my first child. I suddenly realized that my time had become so much more valuable. If I was going to spend X number of hours away from my young child each day, it better damn well go toward building something I cared about and whose equity I would own.
The long-and-short of it all is this: Women face all sorts of stereotypes and unfair double-standards in our society. Y'all know it. It's nothing new.
But behind each of those stereotypes is a silver-lining, an advantage when it comes to building a kick-ass business...
We've Got Our Egos in Check
Sure, entrepreneurship requires strong self-confidence that can weather the ups and downs of building a business venture from scratch. But self-confidence is different from ego. And typically, women don't suffer from the blindness that an over-inflated ego creates.
We can afford to be honest about the state of our businesses. We can acknowledge problems without viewing them as a sign of our own personal weakness. And so, we can fix those problems faster.
We Know How To Create Steady Growth...and Persevere
In this day and age, we generally expect fathers to play a more active role in raising children. But that said, it's still often mothers who shoulder the brunt of child-rearing responsibility. (In fact, when it comes to breastfeeding- one method of literally growing a child- mothers must be ever-present. No gettin' around that one). ;) As any parent knows, there is a lot of day-to-day tedium involved in raising children...punctuated by those wonderful little moments when you suddenly notice just how much they've grown.
And here's the advantage in the business world: Women understand that growth often happens slowly. Shortcuts are rare.
At the end of each day, an entrepreneur might not feel like she's made much progress. But that's ok. We know that staying patient, sticking to a strategic plan, and slogging through the hard times will eventually lead us to a business (or a baby, lol) that can suddenly crawl all on its own.
We're Well-Versed in Creative Problem-Solving
When the cards are stacked against you...well, ya learn to break the rules.
There's no doubt that women in our society face quite a few unique challenges and limitations that men simply do not. But living within that set of rules (however bullshit they may be) means we are adept at finding loopholes in order to get what we need.
We know how to adapt. We're used to looking in creative places for solutions. And this quality in a CEO is a HUGE advantage to a business.
We Have a Unique Relationship With RISK
Why do people always say that women are more risk-averse?? I don't get it.
I mean, sure, I remember the day I barely managed to save my exuberant 2-year-old boy from launching himself down a flight of stairs. And yes, I admit I thought to myself, "What the hell, Evil Kenevil? Is this just a guy thing, or what?" Perhaps there is some truth there. ;)
BUT think about it- a reckless CEO can be just as dangerous to a business as that fall down the stairs would have been to my son's face.
Contrary to popular belief, women do take risks. Everyday. But here's the key: Women are more calculating about which risks to take. (And remember that point about how women know our businesses more intimately- warts and all? Yeah-- so we know which risks are smart and which are bound to fail).
We Understand (And Care About) People
If women (on average) tend to develop more emotional intelligence than men growing up, then WOW. What a windfall for us, ladies!
- Understanding how people work makes you a better marketer.
- Understanding what makes your customers tick means you'll be better at product development.
- Caring about people makes you a better employer, who can develop productive, loyal employees.
- Caring about people makes you a better negotiator, because you tend to go after win-win outcomes that make you popular among your peers.
- Not screwing people over for short-term gain means you'll burn fewer bridges and have a healthier network.
And chances are, you'll probably also find ways to maintain healthy, fulfilling relationships outside of work. Which is critical- for your sanity- and, hence, the bottom line.
Go ahead and give yourself permission to be whoever you are. Don't be too scared of falling into stereotypes about women... Because, as it turns out, being "called a girl" is actually quite a compliment.
Which of your experiences as a woman have prepared you (perhaps in unexpected ways) for your work as an entrepreneur? I just love these stories...so lemme know in the comments below or over on Facebook!
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