Ladies, if we dare to call ourselves small business owners – or even better, entrepreneurs – then we need to do a better job about taking risks.
And that means showing up and building in person relationships at high level conferences and networking events. Yes, there are sacrifices. Yes, it compromises family time. Yes, you will have to say no to someone’s request. But I’m talking about changing the trajectory for women entrepreneurs by taking strategic risks and showing up. I think it’s worth it.
What got me so fired up? I was invited to attend an amazing industry conference last week. Leaders from associations, foundations, organizations, universities, Fortune 100 and small businesses were in attendance at this invite only event. I was blown away by the number of women who were NOT in the room – especially on the panelist and speakers side.
So, I checked with the conference organizers. They rattled off a list of women who were invited. But many declined – citing family or other responsibilities.
I wish I could say this was the first event that I have seen this pattern. It isn’t.
I’ve been to quite a few events where I am one of few women in the room. While this might be normal in some industries, I am generally at events that should attract women – entrepreneurs, business and association events. And far too often, I am only one of a few women who are hearing and participating in high level discussions that affect an ENTIRE industry – its current state and plans for improving the future.
OK I get it.
You’ve got to make sacrifices to attend events like this. I know this first hand. I had a 1 1/2 week lead time to get registered, find accommodations for myself, my 11 month old daughter, my mother, and a family friend (who hadn’t even been identified when I was invited) and arrange all of the other “stuff” that goes into a trip like this.
Oh and I still work full time.
Mind you, if it were just me, I would have hopped on Amtrak and found a cheap hotel room outside of the city proper. I would have spent 1/3 less money and time.
But nope, we hopped in the car after I got off work, picked everyone and their luggage up, juggled eating dinner on our laps, and drove 5 hours to the hotel. Oh and let’s not forget that I volunteered to pick up books for the conference organizers. Yup, you try driving around in a semi-gated community with amazing and beautiful homes (that all look the same) and have circular streets at 11pm when you are exhausted with a car full of people.
The clincher of the first night was the 2am party my daughter threw. Anyone who has a child who is an extrovert can feel my pain. She was just as happy as she could be – new surroundings to explore, new people, new things to see. Nope she didn’t cry about her routine being changed. She just wanted to stay up and see everything. At 2am in the morning.
I was exhausted the next day. And no, I didn’t attend the evening networking events. I felt it was only fair that I take responsibility of my daughter from my Mom and her godmother so they could rest. I was in a slight fog throughout the two days.
And I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I had two conversations – with women I might add – that I believe will launch my work to the next level. I didn’t even know to ask the question until I was attending this event and saw where the industry was heading. And I was in the right place to capitalize on the ideas and find partners who can help me build the next steps.
So please hear the focus of this story – I’m not saying we need to be superwomen and try to do everything. It’s impossible. But we do need to be strategic and take the risks to show up at the events that really push you to re-think, take in the large industry trends and engage with those you may not be comfortable with.
We are starting businesses at record numbers. But many women are not reaching the real income levels we could – and should – so that the business can run as a business…not needing us to do everything. Just think about it.
What are your thoughts?
17 thoughts on “Where are the risk taker women entrepreneurs?”
I definitely appreciate your perspective on this subject – but I look at entrepreneurship as more than a career. It’s about building a legacy for my family and the opportunity to pursue my passions to the fullest. So while I do prioritize love and family in my life, everyone close to me knows this is important to me and the family. So I do believe you can have your cake and eat it too – it’s about finding like minds who are eating from the same type of cake batter!
And insofar as having enough, you’ve inspired me to post about one of my favorite topics – the exit plan. I’m clear there is a point of enough!
Thanks for sharing.
I was reading your comment and wanted to make a comment and question. Can’t you still value your relationship with your husband and close a deal? Why wouldn’t you reschedule with your husband for the next night in order to advance your business? I don’t really think that is a sacrifice all you say is, “Hey honey! I got a great opportunity to close a great deal so our romantic dinner will have to wait until tomorrow!” Wouldn’t your husband understand? Wouldn’t he encourage you to, “go get em!” Hopefully he has an entrepreneur spirit as well! I feel this is the reason woman are still second place and not making as much money as men. We got to get out of our comfort zone. Secondly don’t you think your kids will respect you more in the long run if they knew you busted your butt to make a better future for them instead of just sitting back from the comfort of your home with the thought of I value my family. Think about when you hear very successful people talk about their moms it’s always,” My mom did everything she could to provide, she sacrificed, she got up extra early etc.” You never hear, “My mom was great because she didn’t take risks.” Just a thought?!
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Enjoyed your post. Glad you were able to make the necessary arrangements for you to be able to participate in the event. Just want to mentioned that any woman who has walked away from corporate and is doing it on her own terms is taking a risk. However, I do agree with you that getting out of ones comfort zone is necessary to make steps.
Thanks for your reply! You really got to the heart of what I wanted to share in the article. We are both definitely in agreement that women running businesses having to “think and act like a man” doesn’t work.
But I also think we need to take a moment and review the female mindset of business success and how we want to run our companies. Because not all of our ideas are working well. We are starting businesses in record numbers – but the numbers don’t equate our efforts. More often than not, we lack capital in proportion to our efforts. And that makes a big difference in the overall impact we could be making.
So my example is just one option. It is about sacrifice. And you are right – we get to define how we choose to make that sacrifice. Personally I don’t think there is anything wrong with canceling dinner with the spouse/partner for a business deal that is going to benefit the entire family in the long run. Especially if we have an understanding from the beginning that is has to be for something important and he feels comfortable doing the same thing.
But my larger point was about taking risks and getting out of the comfort zone. Women will often jump at the chance to attend an event where they know other women will be there. But ask them to attend an event where they might not be as comfortable – and they often turn it down. We need to get out of that comfort zone and being willing to show up…and figure it out when we get there. That is something that I think male entrepreneurs do better than us.
So don’t hesitate at all to stay tuned for more articles and I’d love to hear from you examples of where you are moving past that comfort zone. It’s a great opportunity to learn and share from others . I certainly don’t have it figured out and look forward to making this learning curve even shorter for us all.
Malla, I do see your point and I agree that we need more womens’ voices and debates in more forums in almost every industry. And I do make the sacrifice to be there if I can see the pay-off is going to be worth what I am giving up.
However, I think we also need to be realistic about what life is like for women and what we can and can’t do. My kids are in primary school. I can’t pack them up and put them in a hotel room for a weekend – it wouldn’t work for anyone – in fact I think that’s my idea of a nightmare! I also wouldn’t cancel dinner with my husband to nail a business deal – because I value my relationship with him more than the deal.
To my way of thinking what is needed here is not for women to think and act like men, but to create ways of doing business that work for us on our own terms and that are consistent with our own values and priorities. After all, that’s why a lot of us started our own businesses in the first place – so we would have the freedom to do that.
As we develop strength as women entrepreneurs and change the paradigm of business, our voices will be heard and we will create a better work environment not only for ourselves but also for the men around us and our families.
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You nailed it. Start playing with the big boys. Thanks so much for the comment.
Whoo hooo! Thanks for the congrats and I truly appreciate the comments. It is not always convenient and you do have to make sacrifices. I wish you the best in you business and don’t hesitate to let me know if there is anything I can do to help you out.
This is an awesome post and topic! Thanks for sharing!!! Now to the good stuff. Point blank women needed to get over the fear of networking and attending business events that are not solely marketed towards women. Secondly women need to get over the guilt of putting their business before their family. This is where my “man brain” starts working…. what would a man do if he had an important client who just came to town for 1 night and needed to close a deal but he already promised to take his wife to dinner? He would call home, profusely apologize when he gets home, and show up with some flowers for her. In a nutshell he is going to take the meeting! Guess what the wife may not like it but she knows in the long run her family will benefit from his success and be provided for. This is how women should think! Our clients are our an extension of our family and they require just as much attention and nurturing. So get out there and start playing with the big boys!
Congrats on reaching the front page of BizSugar. I like a lot of what you’re saying here, particularly about the need to make certain sacrifices. Of course, entrepreneurship is not always convenient, and sometimes you have to put yourself out there, no matter what’s involved. I think every entrepreneur needs to make a decision for themselves about what kinds of things are worth making those kinds of sacrifices for. But the answer can’t always be ‘no,’ because there is always an excuse not to do something.
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