In May, I’ll celebrate 18 years in business. Over the years, I’ve gone back and forth on my answer to this question: Do women make better entrepreneurs? I’ve decided the answer is Yes… and No. The same things that make us great entrepreneurs also make us bad ones. It’s a fine line, a tightrope we walk. Let me explain.
Women are nurturers.
Women have the ability to hang on, to stick with something, to grow and nurture their business despite opposition, heartache, and setbacks. A woman sees the potential in her creations and has the tenacity to stick with them. Her business is her baby. A woman could no more toss her nurtured business aside than she could toss aside her own child. She will hang on because she has a bond with her business. In business this type of tenacity is invaluable.
On the other hand, treating a business like a baby can be a dangerous thing. Hanging on to old ideas, products or services when the market has disappeared, can lead to professional suicide. Just because it’s your baby, doesn’t mean it’s good business. Sometimes you have to let go, move on and adapt. You can’t be too emotionally tied.
Women are good multi-taskers.
Have you ever seen a man simultaneously change a diaper, talk on the phone, discipline a toddler, and make notes? What about a woman? Women are made to multi-task. This works to their advantage in the business world. Multi-tasking gives you an edge, versatility and the ability to work through distractions.
Too much multi-tasking can kill your focus. Want to ruin your business in a few months? Forget what your true objectives are while you remain busy with unimportant tasks. Because women have a tendency to do many things well simultaneously, they can be easily distracted off course and lose sight of their goals.
Women are relationship builders.
Women make wonderful networkers. They know how to work with other people to get a job done. A woman with a houseful of children (who has retained her sanity) knows how to delegate and build relationships. Mothers are the heart of the home, and they can also be the heart of the business world. Their ability to foster good in others and to coordinate teams can be priceless in their role as entrepreneurs.
But… women can get sidetracked in building relationships that do not produce results. For example, if an entrepreneur loses focus on what her ideal target market is, and then builds networking relationships with people who do not focus on her market… just because she likes them… she can waste time and energy building relationships that serve no real purpose in her business. Sure, she’ll enjoy the camaraderie with these people because she likes them, but the energy used in off-tangent networking could be better funneled into fostering relationships that grow her business.
Women are communicators.
Women are master communicators. This is no more clearly demonstrated than in my own home. My husband is a man of few words. The most he can speak to anyone on a single subject is about 5-10 minutes. He gets his point across and moves on. He has no desire to write or speak. Language is not his bag. Now I’m not saying that men aren’t good speakers or writers — many are. I’m just saying that generally speaking, there are very few men who could spend 2 hours on the phone talking to his friends. I bet you could rattle off the names of five women you know who do so on a regular basis.
Women solve problems by talking them through. In talking, they develop creative solutions and wonderful business ideas.
But, women can also waste hours talking about frivolous personal issues mixed into their business conversations. My husband who goes right to the heart of the issue in a 5 minute conversation, can solve the same problem that it takes me 2 hours to talk through. But then of course, there are no creative side-routes or bright ideas or epiphanies along the way for him either.
Overall, I believe women can make some of the best entrepreneurs there are. Their tenacity, determination, and versatility along with their relationship and communication skills make for excellent entrepreneurs. Yet, with every strength lies a corresponding weakness. My advice for women entrepreneurs is to build on your strengths, but master them. Don’t let them master you.
© Copyright 2008 Marnie L Pehrson