What makes a woman—-especially a younger woman—-want to be an entrepreneur?
As a 28-year-old, self-employed woman, I ask myself this question nearly every day. Consider this:
Women are less likely to be taken seriously in the role of business-owner. Younger women are even lower on the totem pole when it comes to their credibility.
So why, then, do I subject myself to this frustration? I believe the answer is this: It’s worth it, to me, to take the harder road. Honestly, I can easily find a high-paying, corporate job. I hold a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in communication, I have a great deal of computer expertise and experience. And I’m only twenty-eight. Top that with the fact that I’m female and a member of a minority group, well, I’m probably some Affirmative Action dream-come-true. I could make my life a lot easier than it is.
But I’ve chosen the harder career route, and many days I wrack my brain to figure out why. In talking about this to some of my women friends—both corporate employees and those who’ve taken similar paths—I’ve come to this conclusion about women and self-employment:
Entrepreneurs are a breed of their own; women entrepreneurs even more so, and triple that difference if we’re talking about the youngest of female entrepreneurs—-those in their twenties and even into their early thirties. We are different, passionate, and quite possibly insane.
Let me explain.
The number of self-employed women continues to grow in both the United States and Canada. According to the Office of Advocacy Report, Women in Business, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. has grown 89 percent between 1987–97. The number of self-employed women is estimated to be up to 4.7 million by 2017—that’s a 77 percent growth rate compared to the expected 6 percent growth rate of self-employed men. And finally, more than 60 percent of women-owned businesses were first operated out of the home.
Why such a large growth? As one of the many self-employed women in the United States, I believe the answer is three-fold: love of her work, desire for control, and refusal to be forced to make the difficult choice between family and career.
Love of Her Work
An entrepreneur must possess a genuine passion for her chosen profession. We must be talented, and we must truly love our work. I started my business even before I completed my master’s degree. My partner and I opened our Internet Service Provider (ISP) business two years ago; prior to that, we had been doing computer consulting on a small scale for about four years. At the time, we decided that the combination of his technical expertise (he is a computer scientist) and my writing abilities (I had taught writing and had worked as a technical writing consultant) would be a great combination to begin our business. Apparently the bank agreed because our loan application was approved, and thus started a life of true chaos. I have since completed my MS, helped to launch our ISP, and started my own technical communications consulting firm.