If you haven’t taken the entrepreneurial plunge yet yourself, undoubtedly you know some women who have. The statistics tell the story: 400 new businesses are started by women, every day in the United States. Many of the women are leaving corporate America to strike out on their own. Many of them are moms.
Only seven women run Fortune 500 companies today, a pitifully small representation for a group that hovers just over half the population. So women are concluding that corporate America isn’t the best place to exercise their creative and intellectual muscles. They’re doing it elsewhere: in their dining rooms, in HQ offices around the country, you name it. They’ve got the business cards and the three-fold brochures and the tire covers to prove it.
The costs of leaving a corporate job are significant. Company-paid health insurance, 401(k) plans, and paid vacations are three of the biggest forms of glue that keep women at their seats in corporations. But if you can get past those obstacles, and visualize what life in the cube-free zone might be like, it’s a compelling vision.
Women give two principal reasons for starting their own businesses: to be their own boss and to make their own hours. In time, those entrepreneurial hours will certainly take up every waking hour the woman’s got available, but it’s her choice. She won’t be going back to the office after dinner on a Thursday night just because some higher-up is expecting to see her smiling face there. It’s that kind of mindless face-time addiction that women are saying NO WAY! to when they launch their post-corporate-life endeavors.
Having your own company is stressful. Checking the sales receipts fifteen times a day is stressful, trolling for new business can be stressful, and dealing with people issues in a small business is stressful. It’s a different kind of stress than the kind that comes with having to please one boss or many, wade through corporate red tape, and shift priorities a dozen times in a quarter to meet the divisional fad of the moment. Many women (and men, too) prefer the go-it-alone kind of stress to the “how did I become this person?” corporate variety. Active versus passive stress, you might say. As an entrepreneur, the reward for solving a particularly tough problem is to be given three more problems to solve. And that’s what makes us stronger – isn’t that what our moms told us?