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Shedding Light on Women’s Entrepreneurial Dreams: The Why Behind The Journey

When you help a woman fulfil her potential, magic happens. (Sara Blakely)

Article originally published in Startup Stash, on 22.02.2023.

Photo by Christina on Unsplash

Businesses are born for many different reasons. Either the birthplace is an accidental brilliant idea or a family heritage, a necessity for one’s livelyhood, a conscious solution seeking for a problem or an internal pursuit for more freedom and happiness, the journey is always unique. Each entrepreneur has their own “why” that fuels their passion and determination on this journey.

After 15 year of hands-on entrepreneurial experience I have become increasingly curious about the human side of this journey. Why do people end up opening businesses? Why don’t we all have the courage or the need to take that leap of faith? I am particularly fascinated by the entrepreneurial journey of women. There is something beautiful and powerful about a woman deciding to step into the driver seat of her life and creating (or taking back) her power. And when this happens, it triggers a ripple impact of positive impact.

Knowing the unique differences of men and women, it is not surprising at all that the concept of success in the context of entrepreneurship also differs. The World Bank Report of 2018¹ about Female Entrepreneurs beautifully highlighted this difference:

“While men describe success in terms of achieving goals and higher profits, for women success also means having control over their own destinies, building ongoing relationships with clients, doing something fulfilling, or achieving a better work-life balance. The metric of success also includes empowerment through which women can gain power and status in the household, market, and community.”

Although the main purpose of every business is to make money, it is important to study and understand the wider impact and outcomes of female entrepreneurship. By supporting women in business we are not only supporting the global economy, but we are also supporting the wellbeing of our families and our communities.

The Pursuit of More Flexible Life-Style

If there is anything that being a successful entrepreneur should bring to your life, it is to have more freedom and flexibility. Besides financial freedom, entrepreneurship can also bring more freedom of choice and freedom of time.

It is no secret that women still tend to be the primary caregivers, either when we are talking about taking care of children, ageing parents or household matters in general. Thus it comes as no surprise that more flexibility is something every woman taking care of her loved ones dreams of.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

According to recent research by Small Britain Business² approximately 39% of women started a business seeking improved work-life balance. Whereas about 30% wished to choose freely their work locations and 25% felt the need to reassess their careers when entering in the season of parenthood.

Sometimes the will and the necessity for creating a more flexible lifestyle is a stronger (or an equally important) motivator than financial goals, thus being a powerful driver for taking action towards changing one’s life.

The Pursuit of Fulfilling Your Potential

Flexibility is not the only reason why women set out on their own. Oftentimes it is also related to the desire to pursue passions and discover one’s potential.

Firstly, there is the “glass ceiling” problem³. Women simply do not always have the same opportunities for growth and career promotion than their male counterparts. We all know somebody who has experienced this first- hand, and of course, there is plenty of research about the subject (e.g. the fascinating study of Harvards Business Review⁴ using sensors).

And then there is also the gender pay gap³. A topic that is so widely discussed, but with such slow pace of change. According to the European Commission latest report⁵ women earned in 2021 about 13% less per hour than men⁵ in European Union, while the difference in United States had widened by 2022 to 22.2%⁶.

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

Hence what could be for a woman a better and a faster way to build their career than taking matters into their own hands! Starting a business can be a vehicle for creating your own opportunities for growth and change.

Starting a business can also enable women to completely change their financial story. Being in charge means that you can decide your own rates and charge what you believe your products and services are worth.

The Pursuit of Personal Passions

According to the study of Small Business Britain², about 36% of the female respondents said that they had embarked on their entrepreneurial journey in order to pursue their passions.

Many women start their career by following what is expected from them by their family and peers, by the society. They take the degree they are recommended, they apply for the job that promises everything a successful woman is supposed to achieve. They keep climbing the ladder or achieving the milestones they are expected to. Time keeps passing. And suddenly they realise that this is “not the only thing” or “not at all” what they want from their life.

And sometimes women simply fall out of love with their career. With time and with changing seasons of life people tend to change, their priorities and their interests change too. Being successful at doing something does not always mean that you are living in alignment with your deeper values and with who you are. Starting a business to follow one’s true passion, aiming to create more meaning and impact in one’s life is a journey an increasing number of women decides to embark on today.

What Women Say About Their Why Behind the Journey

Traditional hierarchy and company values are often in conflict with what modern women value and desire to experience. And, of course, the limitations related to growth opportunities can simply be frustrating.

What can be a better way to understand the WHY behind the entrepreneurial journey of women than to ask them. A recent article from The Guardian⁷ included a handful of responses from entrepreneurial women, and here are my favourites:

“”I am now the conductor of my own orchestra, fully in the driving seat of my own career and life.”“I didn’t want to have my creativity and ideas shut down, and continually be told `no´.”,“I didn’t want to have to follow the rules for the sake of it, to fit into a box and do what I’m told.”,“I wanted autonomy, freedom and flexibility over my time, the ability to create and build something from the ground up that I was genuinely passionate about.””

The Global Trends of Women Entrepreneurship

While in the privileged world where I live women often end up starting businesses in the context of pursuing their passions and dreams, seeking more satisfaction, freedom and impact, then this is not the case always and everywhere.

Globally speaking, the necessity for livelihood is more significant trigger for women to start businesses than the desire of self-realisation. Based on the GEM 2022/23 Women’s Entrepreneurship Report job scarcity was in global context stated as the number one motivation behind women starting businesses (72,9%), thus it is not surprising that women from low-income countries demonstrated the highest intentions of starting a business (28,2%) while those in high-income countries were least likely to want to start a business (11%).⁸

Photo by Ilse Orsel on Unsplash

Being aware of the global trends allows us to get a more complete picture of the WHY behind the entrepreneurial journey of women. Furthermore, learning that female founded businesses contribute to global GDP only 37%, it becomes clear fast that supporting women entrepreneurs will not only help to make the economies more fair, but it could also directly impact positively the global economic development in general⁸.

“There Is No Limit To What We As Women Can Accomplish” (Micelle Obama)

The inner wisdom, the resilience and the resourcefulness of women is inspiring. Being a woman myself, I have always been fascinated and inspired by the stories of courageous women.

I have always felt myself an innate urge to encourage and empower other women to believe in themselves and to want more out of their life. And maybe, just maybe, I have too often noticed women choosing to play small. While each story and circumstances are different, I still believe the more women create their own power, the better for the world.

Never before has it been easier to become an entrepreneur. The global world and technology have created novel opportunities and new ways of doing business.

Let´s be fair and clear here, running a business is not only a “bed of roses”, it is a journey of ups and downs, at times challenging one’s self-worth, personal boundaries and the capacity for resilience. But it is also an opportunity to change your life, create success on your terms and impact others around. Either women start on their entrepreneurial journey due to a necessity for creating an income, or they start on a journey of fulfilling their true potential, their courage is to be celebrated.

Author Collection

What is my WHY as an entrepreneur?

Our hospitality business (a family affair) was born out of the necessity to create for me a job in a country where I did not speak the language. And over time the “why”” has transformed into “creating beautiful holiday memories for people while supporting my family financially and freedom-wise”. Now when it comes to coaching, then this is a journey I stepped on following my passion for personal development. It is my way to pursue my full potential, while hoping to positively impact and inspire other women on the way. And as Sara Blakely puts it, magic happens when you help a woman fulfil her potential. I am all for creating some magic!

What about you?

Are you showing up courageously for yourself and living your life to the fullest?

Maybe it is time for you also to step out of your comfort zone and let that passion of yours show you the way..

In case you are secretly dreaming of creating (or taking back) your power, you might find some inpiration from my article “The Really Important Step of Starting Your Own Business”.

ATT! Also join my e-mail list for entrepreneurial mindset tips, personal stories and inspiration!




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