Women are leaving the workforce in droves in favor of being at home. Not to be a homemaker, but as job-making entrepreneurs.
By Natalie MacNeil
A quiet revolution is taking shape right now among women. Unlike the Quiet Revolutionthat began in the 1970s which saw women leave the home and enter the workforce in droves, women today are leaving the workforce in droves in favor of being at home. But unlike generations of women before, these women are opting to work in the home not as homemakers—but as job-making entrepreneurs.
Women have been starting businesses at a higher rate than men for the last 20 years and tend to create home-based micro (less than 5 employees) and small businesses. Women will create over half of the 9.72 million new small business jobs expected to be created by 2018 and more and more are doing this from home offices across the country. It’s a surprising statistic, especially considering that women-owned businesses only created 16 percent of total U.S. jobs that existed in 2010.
It’s the data released this week though by the National Federation of Independent Business about how women entrepreneurs fared during the recession that really cements that this is a revolution with staying power.
The recession was tough for many small business owners and nearly half of women-owned businesses still haven’t been able to climb back to pre-recession sales, but they persevered and adapted to a new economy. Controlling costs was the most popular strategy adopted among women entrepreneurs to get through the recession and there was a 52% increase in the number of women entrepreneurs using social media to boost business while saving on marketing costs.
“The result…is a new cohort of women-owned businesses, battle-tested and more competitive than the generation that preceded them,” says William Dennis in the report. With more women starting businesses and succeeding there’s an opportunity to reshape the working landscape.
With job satisfaction and work environment satisfaction at an all-time low, something needs to change and this could be a step in the right direction.
Let me make it very clear here: I’m not saying women are better or that women starting more businesses means the world is all rainbows and butterflies. Women just do things differently in the world of business and different should be welcomed.
Many women view corporations today as being fundamentally flawed and limiting in their value structures. The Guardian Life Index, an initiative to understand America’s small business owners, cites “office politics” as a driving factor for women leaving Corporate America to start businesses.
With the cost of starting a business at an all-time low, women are saying “no thank you” to spending years climbing and clawing their way up the corporate ladder, dealing with corporate politics, and working long days without feeling the overall fulfillment they crave.
Many women start businesses that align with personal values and offers freedom and flexibility when it comes to things like scheduling. ”The glass ceiling that once limited a woman’s career path has paved a new road towards business ownership, where women can utilize their sharp business acumen while building strong family ties,” says Erica Nicole who left Corporate America to start YFS Magazine.
For some women, dissatisfaction with the corporate world begins before they have a chance to even enter the workforce. The road to entrepreneurship for Shama Kabani came after she tried to pursue a career in social media but was rejected by Corporate America . “After 18 corporate companies refused to give me a job on the grounds that social media was a fad, I started my own social media and digital PR firm with $1,500,” Shama explains. That company, The Marketing Zen Group, is now a multi-million dollar company that employs 25 people.
Then there are Gen-Y women who either don’t even consider the corporate track or burn out early in the corporate world and pursue entrepreneurship, as outlined by Meghan Casserly in her wildly popular blog post here on Forbes.com. Millennial women crave independence.
“Making the decision to not follow a system, or someone else’s rules has allowed me to really dig into what my own strengths and gifts are without spending time feeling jaded or wasteful,” says Ishita Gupta who started FEAR.LESS Magazine while going through Seth Godin’s Alternative MBA Program. FEAR.LESS is on a mission to provide a mental toolbox for people to deal with fear, something that still holds a lot of women entrepreneurs back even though they are starting businesses like crazy.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 47.7 percent of women versus 62.1 percent of men believe they are capable of starting and running a business. Hands-on business training like Seth’s AMBA could be key in helping to bridge the confidence gap between women and men when starting a business.
Female-focused incubators and events like the ones offered by Women 2.0 and Ladies Who Launch help women entrepreneurs to build out networks, gain confidence, and learn from successful women. While these events can be highly valuable I caution women to avoid falling into the female-only trap when it comes to business education and seeking guidance and mentorship, especially mentorship.
I believe a female equivalent to the “old boy’s club” is essential for women to help each other grow and edify the next generation of women leaders but I’ve also experienced the value of working with both male and female advisors and mentors. Learning from successful entrepreneurs with different perspectives and experiences help you become a more dynamic and agile business owner.
We need to be dynamic leaders and agile strategists to reshape a work environment that clearly isn’t working anymore. Making the world a better place one worker and workplace at a time will certainly be a road paved with challenges but if we can dig our heels in and prove ourselves in tough situations like the worst recession in our lifetime, I think we can get through anything. One thing is for sure: this women’s movement, the 21st century Quiet Revolution, is here to stay and it’s getting louder and louder.
SOURCE – http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2012/06/08/entrepreneurship-is-the-new-womens-movement/