© Susan MacLaren, 2019
We women business owners are the lifeblood of the American economy. We transform the way people work, we solve problems, we boost job growth, and we are the epitome of the entrepreneurial spirit.
Since 1976, the year I was born, the number of women-owned businesses has increased from roughly 400,000 to over 12.3 million in 2018. Between 2017 and 2018, roughly 1,821 new women-owned businesses were created per day.
In The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth, author Amy Edmondson explores businesses that create environments where creativity and ingenuity can thrive. Edmondson dives deep into work culture where fear is driven out and replaced by interpersonal risk taking, open communication, and the permission to take ownership of the work we do.
Taking ownership was precisely the reason I started my small business. After years of working for others, I felt a strong desire to create a work situation where I could be fully present, engaged, and candid with clients who sought out my skills and expertise. It is important that my input is valued, and that I create authentic working relationships with people who recognize the importance of voicing ideas, questions, and concerns.
Women face many challenges in a typical work environment. We are often tasked with work chores such as coffee fetching, note taking, or cleaning. Our voices go unheard, our ideas get co-opted, and we are routinely passed over for promotions and leadership positions. It is not uncommon to feel uncomfortable or under-appreciated for the values we bring.
Starting a small business allows women to develop a leadership identity which can help foster a dedicated sense of purpose. It requires that you look outside of the status quo to find an opportunity that aligns with your personal values, and pursue it despite your fears and insecurities. It enables women to set their own schedules, to be paid fairly and equitably, and to be in control of choosing who they work with, and for how long.
Being fearless is at the core of small business ownership. It requires a certain amount of risk taking, learning on the fly, and direct communication to navigate the world on our own. Most importantly, we get to create a trusting environment that brings out the best in each person, creates meaningful exchanges, and allows us to take pride in the work we do. Who wouldn’t want that?
The 2018 State of Women Owned Businesses Report, American Express.
Edmondson, Amy C. The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2018.
Musings on business, womanhood, consulting, and things I find interesting.