Women in small business are doing it for themselves
Careful you don’t cut your feet on the glass from the ceiling
At the end of July this year, the state of the glass ceiling became decidely precarious. Hillary Rodham Clinton became the nominee of the American Democratic party, to run for president of the USA.
Besides giving people the world over some hope that Donald Drumpf would not become the most powerful man in the world, women around the world are undoubtedly excited. Whether or not you like Clinton, her nomination by the Democratic party is a milestone on the road to gender equality in America and the world.
I’m hoping that by November, there will be glass flying everywhere and that I don’t cut my feet on the debris.
The biggest crack in the ceiling yet
HRC becoming the nominee of the Democratic party has made at least as big a crack in the glass ceiling as Margaret Thatcher made in the eighties in the UK, or as Gail Kennedy did in Australia when she became CEO of one of the four major banks. Even though I hated Thatcher she was at least in that respect a ground breaker, I hope the ceiling will finally be shattered in 3 months when the world is introduced to the first Madam President.
The glass ceiling in business is alive and well meanwhile. I think it’s going to take many years, probably not in my lifetime, before even in a country like Australia we’ll see as many women in executive roles as men. Understandably, many women are becoming disillusioned that they’ll ever reach anything like gender equality in the workforce.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel however and it’s called small business. Everywhere I look, in small business organisations and at networking events I see masses of women business owners. Many of my clients (small business owners) are women. And they are hungry and efficient and effective and creative and resourceful, possibly more so than men. Sure, there’s not a lot of women in the building trades, I’ve come across a few female electricians and painters, but not a lot of bricklayers for example. But aside from areas in the business industry that rely at least partly on physical strength I see women everywhere giving up on the corporate world to provide them with the opportunities they crave and decide to go and do it for themselves.
Businesses that last
And although I don’t have anything else than anecdotal evidence to back this up, I think women are more likely to build small businesses that last than men.
The most successful consultancy (Efficient Living) I’ve worked with is owned by a woman; The most successful copywriting and marketing agency I know is owned by a woman (my wife Cavalletti Communications… check them out), The most successful floristry business (Little Flowers), the most successful beauty business (Paddington Beauty Salon), the most successful architecture business (Entrance Hall), are all owned by women, and I could go on.
My own daughter in law started a landscaping business after turning her back on the bureaucracy of the Education system (Excelsa Landscapes). Two years on and she’s doing everything right. She’s focused, disciplined, smart and above all, she wants this, now. As a woman she knows she has an opportunity, that she must grab and there isn’t a moment to lose. In a few years she wants to have kids (and I’ll be grandpa again) and by that stage the business simply must be in a state that she can manage it at arm’s length while having the baby(ies). Men don’t always feel those imperatives, I can tell you I didn’t. As a result many men bumble along much longer I think; if it doesn’t happen this year, next year will do and if it doesn’t work out we’ll go and do something else. But for my daughter in law it’s now or never, and she’s rolled up her sleeves and she’s doing it now.
Women in Europe’s business industry
I’ve noticed the same thing the world over. I have spent the last few weeks in Western Europe, where my whole large family lives and there are a lot more women than men in that family in the 30 to 50 range that have started their own businesses of some sort.
The statistics in Holland are staggering. In the last few years, since the GFC, the number of self employed people has jumped from about 300,000 to more than a million and much more than 50% of those people are women.
Small business doesn’t care whether you’re male or female. If you do what you say you’ll do, if you respond promptly to your inquiries, if you charge a reasonable fee, people will find you and hire you.
As I mentioned, I’ve been in Holland for the past 6 weeks in relation to the illness and death of my mother. While I was there helping my mother through the last stage of her life, she was cared for by a number of 24hr nurses, doctors and other care givers.
- And they were all women.
- And they were all self employed, every single one of them.
- And they were all fantastic.
(And Dear God… Please don’t that disgusting demagogue Donald Drumpf become President… pretty please!)
Walk away with clarity, insight and focus and you’ll be able to implement one or more simple practical actions that will help you build a business that sustains you for years to come.