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October 11, 2009

Entrepreneurship for the rest of us may also be employment for the rest of us

Last week we wrote Entrepreneurship for the Rest of Us: A Conversation about Women’s Business Growth, which talked about the important role that flexibility plays in many women’s ventures (as compared to men’s) and the impact that that has on the growth of women’s businesses.

It was inspired by two posts by Jason Cohen and his wife Darla Cohen, both entrepreneurs, but was also informed by our work with hundreds of women entrepreneurs who everyday are grappling with decisions on how to best build businesses that work for them.

I was reminded of this post and conversation by Judith Warner’s recent piece on Domestic Disturbances about The Choice Myth, which works to reframe the well-known conversation about why women work or don’t work and what they want.

In this piece Judith reports that in 2005 The Motherhood Project at the Institute for American Values surveyed more than 2,000 women and published a report that said:

Most mothers, given free choice in an ideal world, would choose to be employed — provided their employment didn’t impinge excessively on their time with their kids. Approximately two-thirds said they’d ideally work part-time or from home; only 16 percent said they’d prefer to work full-time.

Fair enough, right? But because (in my opinion) there are not enough corporate employment options that provide meaningful, engaging or challenging part-time or home-based work, women turn to entrepreneurship (in droves!) as a way to create the job they want with the benefits that they need.

It is this that makes utterly necessary to recognize two things:

1. It is very important to learn to work for yourself. It is a skill that we should seek to develop and that our institutions should support and nurture (ahem, colleges, universities, and professional schools…that means you). While the current economic downtown might help cement this as common conventional wisdom for both genders, I believe this is especially true for women.

2. It is really important that we acknowledge, showcase, and promote a diversity of entreprenuerial experiences. There are different kinds of goals, growth, and models of success.

So let’s get on it…lets teach women and girls what comes with the skill of working for yourself and also let’s highlight the range of ways to be an entrepreneur and to build and grow a business. Entrepreneurship for the rest of us may really be about employment for the rest of us, but it is enterprising, independent, and important all the same.

If you want to begin learning the best practices involved with working for yourself you can join us for two upcoming seminars that we are holding for Global Entrepreneurship Week. They are free and open to the public, though an rsvp is necessary.
(picture courtesy of ohjoy blog...work of Marisa Crawford)

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