When I first thought about the idea of launching my own business, I doubted myself. It wasn't my business idea that I doubted, it was my ability to actually run the day-to-day operations successfully. Having been a creative person my entire life, I just had never really thought of myself as being business minded. In retrospect, of course, those fears seem completely irrational.
But many women seem to also suffer from a crisis of confidence when it comes to going out on their own in the business world. And the more I thought about my own story, the more I realized that I didn't have any female entrepreneur role models in my life to set an example for me. My father is a small business owner and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. Most of my friends growing up also had stay-at-home moms, and the ones who did work were teachers or real estate agents.
What is more interesting to me now, however, is that a good number of my girlfriends currently run their own businesses:
Courtney is a successful speech pathologist and owns Communication Clubhouse for kids in NYC
Amanda, a personal trainer, now runs a pretty extensive wellness operation through Amanda Rose Wellness
Fallyn launched a conscious handbag company, Smith & Starr, after noticing a void in the marketplace
Sam is a phenomenal makeup artist and all-around hustler who recently relocated Samantha Klein Makeup out to Los Angeles
Lauren is a podiatrist in South Florida who runs her own podiatry practice, the aptly named Zipes Podiatry
Bethany is a wonderful photographer and launched DOLA Photography out of her apartment a few years ago
Despite not seeing our mothers launch businesses in our youth, so many of us have chosen that path in adulthood. And many of us are now mothers, trying to set a good example for our children. With so many strong and like-minded businesswomen in my life, I have been lucky to have such a strong support network. But many other women across the country are not as lucky.
Roadblocks for Women Entrepreneurs
The New York Times' data-driven platform, The Upshot, recently published an article entitled, "Why Women Don't See Themselves As Entrepreneurs," which lays bare some interesting facts about why more women aren't starting and running their own businesses. The article states that although women comprise nearly half of the labor force in the United States, they only own 36 percent of companies. And of those 36 percent, the women business owners are "half as likely as male founders to employ anyone other than themselves, and they generally earn less in revenue."
Men Mentor and Support Other Men
They attribute this, in part, to the fact that since there are more male business owners and entrepreneurs, the men are more likely to mentor and support other men, something that social scientists apparently refer to as "homophily," or "love of the same."
Lack of Women Role Models
This theory is further backed by data. The NYT article found that "research shows that women around the world are less likely to consider entrepreneurship as a career path, largely because they don’t see other women entrepreneurs as role models."
Women Are Left Out of Financial Networks
Financing networks, which are predominately run by men (91 percent of venture capitalists are male!), often are referral-based, which keeps women out of the loop. Susan Coleman, a business professor at the University of Hartford and a co-author of a Third Way think tank report told the New York Times: “Women are just outside of those established networks, and if you’re outside the networks, you don’t get the knowledge, you don’t get the opportunities, you don’t get the contacts and you don’t get the funding."
When Women Succeed, Everyone Wins
The good news is that the reason women are not launching their own businesses has nothing to do with brains or talent. On the contrary, women are outpacing men when it comes to college degrees. A study from Harvard School of Public Health found that "women earn 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees, over 62 percent of master’s degrees, and 53 percent of degrees such as PhDs, medical degrees, and law degrees in the United States." But then they are getting jobs in a market where they are underrepresented in leadership roles across the board.
But when women are in positions of power, companies typically perform better. The Harvard study found that "when Fortune-500 companies were ranked by the number of women directors on their boards, those in the highest quartile in 2009 reported a 42 percent greater return on sales and a 53 percent higher return on equity than the rest."
Providing The Support You Need To Thrive
If you already own your own business or have been thinking about starting a business, I want to help you. I offer business coaching services exclusively for women in order to help you build your network, boost your confidence and have all the tools you need for your brand to thrive. Sometimes, as a woman, all you need is a little more support for you to be able to go out and set the world on fire.