Girl Power: Raising A Female Entrepreneur

Girl Power: Raising A Female Entrepreneur

Cheryl Hall
Expert Author
Published: 2006-06-29
I was born in the '70's. Yes, I was raised on Sesame Street, seeing that Maria could work at the hardware store and Burt and Ernie shared the domestic chores.

I was told early on that gender didn't determine my role at home or in the workplace, neither did it box me into specific educational goals or income levels. When I went to work with my father I watched women with enormous shoulder pads and tennis shoes scurry to get to their desks and I felt a sense of pride. I would have big shoulder pads and tennis shoes one day. I would be a woman who worked. As I learned much later in life, divorced and starting a business with a small child at home, I would need those big shoulder pads to hold me up. Women's role in business has almost always been a supporting role and even in the new millennium, even leading women entrepreneurs can tell you; the glass ceiling does exist and sometimes, you bump your head on it.

In study after study, girls do better in school and yet consistently find challenges in the business world. So I ask – what's the difference? What are we missing? The girls of this generation have never even questioned whether or not they could make as much money as a man; it's a moot point. They know it's possible, so why isn't it happening?

What can we do as women and mothers to help secure our daughters' future as women in business? Think Outside the Box: In school we are taught that for every question, there is one right answer. If non-conformist thinking and individuality is squelched in school, yet rewarded in business, perhaps we need to encourage our girls to open up the curious, creative part of themselves and look for alternate answers. Getting an A on a project is great, but thinking of a concept in a totally new way is life-changing.

Think About Money Early and Often: School rarely touches on money management at all and many of us leave college with a degree so that we can have a better job, so that we can make more money, so that we can have absolutely no idea what to do with that money. As young women have more career opportunities that provide them with more income, they need to have more direction with money and learn how to think about money from the start. Otherwise, we're preparing them for a life of floundering with money or relying on a partner or husband to take care of that for them.

Confrontation is OK: Being aggressive or confrontational is partially a natural part of some people's personalities, and we definitely don't need to encourage bullies to be more so. Girls are usually nurtured into softening those tendencies if they have these traits, and not encouraged to be confrontational if they weren't to begin with. But problems are solved with confrontation. A fact in the business world is that people will not always see things your way and sometimes a charming smile will only get you a smile back. As women we need to be able to be artful in confrontation in order to get to where we really want to be.

You're Networking All the Time: School is a wonderful opportunity to learn that it really isn't what you know, it's who you know. Girls naturally are social net workers from day one and this is a skill that can take them places in life and work. I know adult women that have a network of other women that they socialize with regularly, but their primary function is to find work or projects and get advice and make contacts with these women. I know other adult women that go it alone even though they have friends that could help them get ahead, refusing to mix a business agenda with a friendship. If great minds think alike, maybe that's why you're friends. Our daughters need to understand the value in making business friendships early on and appreciating what they could put into that relationship as well as what they can get out.

The Trend is Our Friend: Who is more aware of the nuances of what's in, what's out, what's trendy and what could be the next multi-million dollar fad than our girls? Women have an eye for detail; we're naturally more detail-oriented than men. If we combine that ability to focus on the little with an ability to focus on a business, there is a winning combination that entrepreneurs have used to make billions. Martha Stewart has paid careful attention to the home improvement and cooking niches and followed the trend to a billion dollar empire. What is the difference between her and your daughter? Absolutely nothing, but the ability to notice and then act on information.

Doing What You Love is Where the Real Money Is: Can you make a fortune grinding away at the wheel of a job you loathe? I don't know of anyone who has, but I'm sure it's been done. What do you sacrifice in your life for attaining financial success that way and could you really call your life a success when you hated every minute? No, the way to a happy and abundant lifestyle is through doing what we love. For some of our daughters, this is going to mean living with a cell phone attached to their ear, some will have a baby on their hip and if they love what that life has to offer them, then it's a success. Many thriving businesses have been started by a stay-at-home Mom who loved staying home with her kids so much it was the one thing she insisted for her business. The confidence to do what you love for a living will start by seeing the one woman in her life that's doing it already (hopefully): You.

Will the future of women in business still have a glass ceiling? Sure, some of the gender bias and roles that we experience will leave its traces for our daughters. Can we make it easier for them and help them develop their skills to start a business and become an entrepreneur? Yes we can. By adding to their education, an environment in which most girls thrive, with some added information on business skills, money management and a focus on doing what they love, we can help them carve out a place and be prepared to make it big in the business world.

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