Being your own boss has a certain ring to it, a je ne sais quoi. Most people imagine it’s a world with no clocks to set, no one to micro-manage you, work when you want, play golf when you want, etc. Right?
The truth of the matter is: Only a fraction of all that is true, especially if you intend to be a one-person show. It takes tremendous discipline to train for entrepreneurship. You need to be GREAT, not just good, at setting your own deadlines; so you do answer to the clock. You have clients with expectations; so you have someone who micro-manages you. And …you have to remain available ( within reason, of course), if you intend to succeed.
On the bright side: Once you become successful and grow a trustworthy staff, play all the golf you want! In the meantime, keep your nose to grindstone for the payoff. Entrepreneurship is genuinely challenging. It can also be fun, depending on your approach!
“Battle” of the Sexes
A Harvard Business Review study, March 2017, is quoted saying “…The language used to describe male and female entrepreneurs [is] radically different. And these differences have very real consequences for those seeking [VC] funding — and for society in general…”
Although this study was conducted in Sweden, the sentiments are echoed on a global level. In yet another study reported in the HBR, June 2017, this one conducted in NYC, they say that, “…There is an enormous gender gap in venture capital funding in the United States. Female entrepreneurs receive only about 2% of all venture funding, despite owning 38% of the businesses in the country…Male-led startups …raised five times more funding than female-led ones.”
Why the differences? The reality is that the path for female founders is often littered with unconscious bias as well as sexism. The good news is that all of this is changing in a positive direction. You can’t turn the QE2 1800 on a dime. Small steps lead to big successes.
Three reasons that are cited as contributing factors are:
- Gender Bias: Although the gap appears to be narrowing, cultural biases continue to overrate men and underrate women. Since early childhood, society often dictates what constitutes “male” and “female” traits and behaviors. Highly achieved women are often viewed as aggressive or abrasive and are asked to take it down a notch. On the othr hand, men generally receive a hearty slap on the back and congratulated for taking control.
- Confidence Gap: According to a story in The Atlantic,women have been conditioned into believing that, “…with enough hard work, our natural talents would be recognized and rewarded.”
Years later, this often translates into diminished self-confidence. This posture can unconsciously play out in funding decisions; investors may lack confidence in female entrepreneurs or view them as abrasive.
Additionally, in self assessment studies, women have the propensity to evaluate themselves lower than reality while men tend to evaluate themselves much higher. Men also tend to be more aggressive and self-confident when describing their own potential.
Women’s own self-doubt puts them on the defensive, often impacting their participation in board meetings or business discussions.
- On Sexism: In finding their voice, women have become empowered to tackle sexism head-on, laying the groundwork for others to follow.
Though women ruled quite effectively 1000 years ago in the days of Pharaohs, their roles evolved and became more submissive–the roles are once again evolving. Today, they are leaps and bounds ahead of generations of the past 100 years and are making their presence felt. Their contributions in technology, science, healthcare, politics, and business are more readily recognized and rewarded.
Kudos to those companies already on the bandwagon: by making diversity a priority, they encourage diverse perspectives and voices that are so necessary and critical for growth, both on a personal level as well as the corporate level.
Footnote: My personal experience in entrepreneurship has been very rewarding. During my 15 years of successful and failed attempts in various venues, I always looked back to see what lessons I learned and what were the biggest take-aways. Entrepreneurship is all about learning, finding yourself and having fun along the way, without gender bias. Enjoy the journey!