In an article, 18 Entrepreneurs Share Their Thoughts on the Future of Women Entrepreneurs, I was asked to comment on the future of women entrepreneurs and I believe the future is incredibly bright. I left a successful 25-year Corporate marketing career to follow my passion and start my coaching business. What I didn’t realize is that more and more women are pursuing entrepreneurship. A recent report shows that between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned firms in the U.S. increased by 45%, compared to just a 9% increase among all businesses. That’s five times the national average! Women now make up 40 percent of new entrepreneurs in the United States — the highest percentage since 1996, according to the 2016 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity. In another study, 83% of working women stated that they want their own business and 55% work on their side hustle while working full-time.
But why are so many women turning to entrepreneurship? This is what I uncovered:
Being your own boss means that you can have a flexibility with your schedule that a Corporate job can’t offer. This is especially helpful when family may be your number one priority. Let’s face it, women still are the primary caregivers whether we’re talking about children or aging parents. Lack of flexibility also makes it challenging to make time for exercise and healthy living. I know many times during my corporate career I would stop exercising regularly either because I had a two-hour commute to my office or just because the working hours were so long and rigid.
Ability to Charge What They’re Worth
The gender pay gap has remained relatively stable over the last 15 years or so (this is where I banged my head against my desk as I was writing this blog). The Census Bureau found that full-time, year-round working women earned 80% of what their male counterparts earned in 2016. If change continues at the slower rate seen since 2001, women will not reach pay equity with men until 2119. I don’t know about you but I’ll either be dead by then or celebrating my 101st birthday! Do we want to wait that long? Of course not, which is why women are opting to start their own businesses. If you’re the boss, you can charge what you’re worth.
More Control Over Their Future
If you have had any experiences like me, you’ve found yourself involved at some point or another in a layoff, restructuring, reorg, buyout or some variation of those. These situations often result in organizational changes which are out of your control and can have a significant effect on your career. Or perhaps you have a manager who makes your life miserable and is preventing you from rising in the ranks. Being your own boss means YOU are in the driver’s seat. This is a big statement because you not only have control over your business activities but also WHO you work with (that includes your clients and business partners)!
To Advance More Quickly
Research by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. revealed that though women and men say they want to be promoted in about equal numbers (75% and 78% respectively), women are 15% less likely than men to get promoted. The researchers say that, at this rate, it will take more than A CENTURY to achieve gender parity in the C-suite! (this is where I banged my head against my desk a second time) There was another fascinating study published in the Harvard Business Review that found that men and women behave exactly the same in the workplace, get exactly the same amount done in a day and spend exactly the same amount of time at face-to-face meetings with their superiors. So why do women only make up 4% of Fortune 500 CEO’s?
To Follow Their Passion
Do you ever feel like there’s just something missing? Like you don’t quite feel fulfilled or happy in your current career? Many women are leaving the corporate world because the jobs that they are in just aren’t inspiring to them anymore (if they ever were). Starting a business allows you to find meaning and gives you the ability to leave behind a legacy that you can be proud of. To be truly successful, you need to find work that you’re passionate about. I’d like to leave you with one closing thought: It feels better to fail at something you love than succeed at something that you don’t care about.
*As an INSPIRATIONAL BONUS, I’m also including a link to this great article showcasing four women (a banker, music exec, lawyer and antique dealer!) who quit their office jobs to start their own businesses. You can do it too!