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April 6, 2010

Are women business owners really second-class entrepreneurs?

Read an excerpt from my new Huffington Post article:


In short, I am being asked: "how can we get female entrepreneurs to start those blockbuster businesses that are so often started by men?"

And I get very frustrated, because in my mind this is the wrong conversation.

These questions are problematic because they reinforce the strong dichotomy that exists in the mind of the general public between businesses that are fast-growing, capital-rich, and highly-visible (and undeniably mostly male) and businesses that grow more organically, remain closely held, have greater longevity, have less capital, and stay smaller.

The first group gets deemed the legitimate "real" entrepreneurs, while the latter group, especially if they are run by women, gets passed off as "lifestyle" or "lipstick" entrepreneurs. While in reality businesses in the latter group are run by both men and women, I've yet to see a man's business pejoratively referred to as a "lifestyle" business.

...Read More

Do you think women are cast as second-class entrepreneurs?

As an woman entrepreneur, have you ever felt like you were a legitimate or "real" entrepreneur? When & why?

Personally, when I first started out it took me a little while to warm to the word entrepreneur, even though I would talk about the process of starting my own business. I did a lot f research and read things geared towards entrepreneurs, but I didn't feel reflected in the literature.

However as the business became more involved, and complex, and strategic it was hard to identify as anything but an entrepreneur. I was also very encouraged by finding the right peers and resources. A very important book for me was Bo Burlingham's Small Giants, which profiles great companies that have other goals besides size. It was examples and stories like these that made me feel more comfortable taking up this new identity.

I really understand what it is like to wrestle with the title, but each time I hear the qualifiers lifestyle or lipstick, I cling to entrepreneur even more tightly!

I'd love to hear your experience.

-Adelaide Lancaster

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