Room for Improvement: Are Women Entrepreneur Stereotypes True?
I had no idea how prevalent some women entrepreneur stereotypes really are until I stated that I wanted to create a community and physical training centers targeted to women entrepreneurs. Being a woman entrepreneur, and having worked with women entrepreneurs, I dismissed the conventional wisdom because I feel that in my own personal experience, the common stereotypes were not based on fact. But I am hearing the stereotypes enough that there must be some grains of truth. That means, ladies, there is room for improvement.
Women Entrepreneur Stereotypes #1: They Won’t Invest In Themselves
One of the first gentleman I spoke with about my Mirelli Entrepreneur Training for Women listened politely to my idea, shook his head, and said, “Why would you deliberately focus on the least-profitable segment of the entrepreneurial sphere? Women entrepreneurs are big on dreams, but when it comes to actually pulling out their wallet, they don’t do it.” He advised that I would be better off focusing on entrepreneurs in general because profitability will only occur if men are in the mix. I argue that it’s because women are more cautious and risk-adverse. I contend that the approach to women has to be value-based. I also believe that women in general have less access to capital and therefore have less disposable income to invest, so what looks like unwillingness is actually coming from a lack of real resources, not a lack of desire. The more we as a community invest in training and supporting women entrepreneurs, the more success they will have, which will lead to more self-investment.
Women Entrepreneur Stereotypes #2: They are Cheap
There is a related stereotype out there about women’s attitudes toward spending money. In preparing for an upcoming crowdfunding pitch, the point was made that maybe I was appealing too much to women and not addressing men strongly enough. Why? “Because we all know that women are cheap. Women will write you the smallest check they feel they can get away with. Men will write big checks because they want to feel important. If you want to raise funds, you need to appeal to men’s egos. You’ll never raise much money relying on women.” Again, I feel that perception arises out of the unequal resources of men versus women and if women have the resources, they will be as generous, if not more so, than men. I point to the fact that women will spend money on name brand shoes, purses, or beauty products. It’s not that they are cheap, it’s that they are value-conscious. And I believe we need more women who believe that investing in other women is a good value.
Women Entrepreneur Stereotypes #3: They Don’t Fully Commit
Here’s how a women business coach explained why she prefers to work with men in her business. “Women come to you, eager and excited. They take notes, they listen to every word you say, they send you follow-up emails and phone calls. They are a real pain at first. They really try to do what you tell them will work – for about two weeks. Then ‘something’ always happens. A child or husband gets sick, an aunt dies, a car needs repair. Or they don’t get results quick enough. They not only refuse to make their business a priority, often they simply abandon it altogether. If you check back in two weeks, they will say ‘Oh, it’s not right for me. It’s not the right time. I’ll get back to you.’ And they are gone. They won’t commit to do whatever it takes.”
This is a tough one. Yes, I do believe a lot of women will put business on the back-burner when a family issue arises. And it is hard to build momentum in a business when it’s two weeks on, two weeks off, two weeks on. I do see that women are more often than not caught up in a whirlwind of day-to-day tasks than men. Men will let the laundry or housekeeping go, or they will miss or go late to their child’s sporting event. Women, especially if they have a family, will prioritize family. I don’t think that makes them bad entrepreneurs, it just means that the world’s expectations of women entrepreneurs is not in line with reality. We have room for improvement.
Women Entrepreneur Stereotypes #4: They are Unprofessional
I hear this one all the time. Women are unreliable and lack professionalism. I recently spoke with a woman who was just fuming because a woman was a no-show for an appointment. “My no-shows are always women,” she said. “Men at least have the common courtesy to call and cancel. Women feel they can just not show up. Or they feel it’s okay to be 15 minutes late.” Newsflash ladies: It’s not. Time management is a real issue for a lot of women. If you are going to be in business, you need to learn to manage your time. And maybe your family or your date is okay with you being 15 minutes later than expected because you needed to run some errand first, but in business, the errand needs to be run after your scheduled appointment.
Women Entrepreneur Stereotypes #5: They are Catty, Back-Stabbing, Two-Faced Phonies
This one typically comes from other women. For some reason, supposedly rooted in the primitive idea that women need to compete for attention so the man would choose them to procreate, women will sabotage the success of other women. Women have the reputation of saying “Wow, good for you” out-loud while muttering under their breath, “I hope you fail.” This comes from a “lack” mentality and is so unnecessary in today’s world. Believe me ladies, there is plenty of business and opportunity for everyone to succeed. Fair competition is fine. It makes everyone better. But undermining another woman just for the sake of watching her fail, sitting on the sidelines when you could help her avoid a mistake, is not helpful to the community as a whole. Women need to celebrate other women. We have definite room for improvement.
How Can Mirelli Help Dispel These Women Entrepreneur Stereotypes?
It’s time to destroy these negative, defeating stereotypes once and for all. Mirelli is a growing community of powerful, like-minded entrepreneurial women who learn, connect, grow, and prosper together. The women of Mirelli understand the value of training and connecting and helping other women succeed. We raise the level of professionalism. We emphasize the importance of time management. We understand the work/life balance that women entrepreneurs have to maintain and will be there to support and encourage them when they feel like quitting. We are attracting women who have an abundance mentality because we firmly believe that a rising tide raises all ships. There is enough business for us all to succeed at the level we want. No woman needs to be in business alone.
If you are ready to prove those woman entrepreneur stereotypes wrong, it’s time for you to join us. We meet you where you are on your path. If you are just getting started, we help you with the basics. If you are in business but struggling, we provide training, networking and resources. If you are in a position to teach and mentor other women, we have opportunities for you. Stereotypical women entrepreneurs need not apply.