Yesterday we participated as presenters and panelists in a “Winning Women” event, where it became evident that entrepreneurship is the best answer for many working women. The participants’ reasons for becoming self-employed were as diverse as their ages, but the women in the room shared a number of motivations for going out on their own.
- Children and family – a number of participants were looking for more flexibility, or for a career that could ebb and flow as the needs of the family changed. In these cases, the family was the priority over career.
- Leaving workplace assumptions behind – we told the story of a manager who rationalized (out loud in front of witnesses!) that he wasn’t going to offer a particular woman a new slot in his department because “she was engaged and about to be married, which means that she’s going to be having kids and wanting a bunch of time off. She might even quit.” That happened circa 1988, but all these years later the story sticks in the craw.
- The desire to expand skills – self-employment offers the opportunity to be on a steep learning curve, as the substance of doing the business AND the process of BEING in business offer opportunities (and necessity) to acquire new skills.
- Following a passion – if you’re going to work, why not do work that feels like play? Why not create a business that taps into your passion and leverages your talents? When you build your busines around it you have the opportunity to do more of what you love to do.
- Making money – economic necessity drives the motivation to be in business for some women. Being self-employed means that nobody but the person doing the work determines how much income is the top of the range.
Being in business for oneself doesn’t erase all of the challenges of working while being a woman. There is still the management of the family schedule, the navigation of the family power structure, and the guilt of never feeling like you’re present enough at home OR at work. Not to mention that self-employment means that you don’t have the luxury to specialize.
Are you ready to be self-employed? It depends upon whether you’re ready not to give yourself a back door, a way out if it doesn’t work. It depends upon whether you can live with unknowns in the area of income and an inconsistent or unpredictable cash flow. It depends upon whether you can effectively manage diversified tasks or outsource the ones that you can’t or don’t want to do. If you’re a working woman and you can see past some of these risks, perhaps entrepreneurship is for you.