I often work with women who are either setting up their own businesses or being slowly seduced by the idea. These women are under no illusions about what is involved, they know they will probably work longer hours than they did in paid employment, but it is the total control over those hours which is so attractive to women. In a governmental effort to encourage women’s entrepreneurship, research consistently focuses on why and where women-owned businesses are lagging behind men’s – in the acquisition of venture capital, risk-taking attitudes and in fields, such as technology, where the initial capital layout can be prohibitive. These factors may be true – but focusing on what women business owners lack is to ignore what they actually have - flexibility and job satisfaction.
I am a key case in point. This morning I was blogging by 7am, then took a break to do some Pilates (glorified rolling around on my living room floor!), then came back to begin my working day in earnest. Later I will take a "power walk" with my husband, as we like to do, before finishing the day checking e-mail. Longer hours than my previous career? Sure? More happiness and a timetable that fits around me? Most definitely! I remember meeting a business woman who said she started her own company after her boss said it wasn’t "convenient" for her to leave to pick up her sick son from school – despite the fact that she would have taken extra work home and routinely worked into the evening. She quit the next day. And you have to wonder, how "convenient" was that for her employer? It sounds like flexibility is key to American women’s businesses as well….