They say that entrepreneurship is born often in response to a felt need. Some of the world’s biggest and the best brands have been the result of such journeys undertaken by pioneering entrepreneurs who experienced the need themselves.
Yet, it seems that in the world of entrepreneurship, women are said to be more adept than their male counterparts at identifying needs and spotting gaps that are not serviced; thereby, more efficient at utilizing the opportunities or seizing the moment. Forbes recently quoted the 2015 Kaufmann Index on Startup Activity, citing that WBE (women business enterprises) are agile, innovative problem solvers who are able to meet the needs of the corporate world quickly and are able to adapt to market place challenges while providing value and cost-effectiveness – as stated by Pamela Prince Eason, President and CEO of Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
There’s plenty of punch packed in her statement and not just because she is a woman herself. For every woman trying to enter into entrepreneurship or a career, must also deal with the baggage that often accompanies a woman. Something most men would not have access to. Whether taking care of the home front, attending to children or taking care of ageing parents, the onus falls on the women in almost every society than it does on a man. In whatever way we approach, the whole gender game and whatever values we lay on the table concerning equal status and equal pay, etc., that’s just how it is. Mothers, wives and daughters are almost always the primary care givers. That is not likely to change and need not change – life does include responsibilities that the majority of us do not mind shouldering. It certainly adds value to our lives.
So why and how does entrepreneurship fit women better? Not only because women are good at identifying needs but also because being an entrepreneur gives a woman the flexibility to take care of other responsibilities in her life while allowing her plenty of space to engage in the work she has chosen. Entrepreneurship, in my book, is also about developing a strong sense of personal discipline. Most women are used to schedules that come with getting kids ready to school, homework and class project assistance and assignments. Not to mention cooking for a family and running errands.
Personal discipline, sticking to time schedules and getting something done are factors that can come naturally after years on the school run, homework assistance and chaperoning extra classes.
On the global front, these mothers and wives are taking giant steps – as The Forbes List of The Most Powerful Women confirms. The women on that list set out from their homes not to build empires and become celebrities – it happened on the way because they worked hard for everything they’ve got.
Entrepreneurship also may come easier to women because they can see the needs that exist in everyday life. Whether in grocery shopping, cooking or taking care of children and elderly parents, women can relate to needs that occur. For an example, home-cooked meals are in great demand in Colombo at the moment. Anyone who has the capability and the capacity to start a home-cooked food business, especially rice and curry, would undoubtedly see it boom. A similar demand exists for educational solutions, or for reliable day care facilities. These are needs that are experienced by women every day.
Of course, nothing comes easy. As we all know, entrepreneurship is a tough game despite the advantages it offers to a woman wanting to balance her family and work. It takes a lot to be able to source markets, develop the business and keep it going. It takes business sense and the ability to plan for the long term. It takes sacrificial hours attending to business problems but the good news is that yes, it can be done while doing everything else you have to get done.
Sometimes the purpose itself gets defeated when the business grows into a dimension you did not expect it to. For some women, this is the point to let go – anything more would bite into time with the family and children. Yet, others relish the growth and are able to cope with the challenges that come with a growing business.
In the end, it is all about how you choose to manage your bout as an entrepreneur. Whether you will control the business or let it control you. The choice is always yours.
(Nayomini Weerasooriya, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)