Here is something I found a while back that defined women entrepreneurship: A women entrepreneur – confident, innovative and creative. Capable of achieving independence individually or in collaboration with someone else. A women who generates jobs, opportunities for others through initiating and running her business, while keeping her personal, family and social life together. I do not remember who wrote this but I kept it because I thought the definition was on point.
I have been an entrepreneur basically most of my adult life. Choosing to become my own boss was the best decision I have ever made. But like anything else there is a downside. You can say it’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of women entrepreneurship. Women do face challenges and gender bias. Many of us are raising families along with doing what we need to do to build our business. I have met hundreds of women over the last 20 plus years that have overcome hindrances and sacrificed a lot while they were fighting hard for success.
I am sharing my dirty little secrets of a women entrepreneur from personal experience in the hope that it can help you to overcome them and succeed in spite of it all.
- Relationship Issues – Overall lack of support from our spouse, partner, family and friends, can cause friction in our relationships. In most cases your immediate circle just doesn’t understand what you are doing, or why you are doing it. It’s that simple. There will be times when you will stop talking to some family members and even lose some friends. I have lost friends over the years who refused to change and grow, and were frankly, just not very supportive of me. I eventually stopped hanging out with them. Now I am going to share some ugly. I can tell you from personal experience, that during your struggle to succeed, some issues and events will cause friction in your relationships. Sometimes you might just have knock down, drag out, nasty fights with your spouse. Yelling, cursing, throwing things has occurred during a few of our heated arguments. I found this happening to me on numerous occasions. What you will need to do is stop as soon as possible. I thought long and hard while I was trying to evaluate what the real issues were, and I tried to talk it out with my husband when I could. I leaned on other women who understood what I was going through. I cried a lot, drank a lot of wine back in the day, and I prayed a lot. I read tons of books on personal development, which helped me immensely. What I found was, I could make some small changes along the way that could improve my relationships, and at the same time help me grow my business. It will take time and effort, but you can and you will make it better, if you work on it. You will also need to get out there and meet people, network and mingle, until you find some women you can align your business with. Like minded women that you share interests, passions, and even personal challenges with. You can build a relationship with these women, you can discuss what’s going on in your lives, connect, support and learn from one another. This is imperative for your business to succeed.
- Not mom of the year – I never won a ‘mom of the year’ award, and I am here to tell you, if your business is going to evolve and grow the way you expect it to, you probably won’t win one either. This is the bad part. Let me give you some examples and paint you a vivid picture, so you can relate and understand what I am saying. We are expected, as women, to hold down the home front. Shop, cook, clean, look cute and so much more. We try to stay focused while we take our kids to their parties, games, play dates and of course, send them to school with cupcakes when needed. Well let me be real with you right now. I have been known to forget the cupcakes and show up for the party with my daughter, the day after the actual party, with the gift in my hand as she stood next to me with the tears welling up in her eyes. There were different theme days in school I forgot to dress them for, on picture day they weren’t always perfectly dressed or groomed, mainly because I always forgot it was picture day. I didn’t make PTO meetings, and my husband went to more student teacher nights then I did. I forgot to pack a lunch here and there, and of course didn’t have money in their backpack. One day I took my middle daughter to the pediatrician, the Dr. actually extended her hand to me and said, “Oh Mrs. Barbieri, I don’t think we have ever met?” That made me feel awesome. One of my highlights in the early years of building my business, was coming home to find my 2-year-old son completely naked, standing on my kitchen counter, while putting a liquid Tylenol bottle in his mouth and drinking it. If that doesn’t make you question how you were even allowed to raise these kids, I don’t know what will. That’s when you get that sick feeling in your gut and wonder if it’s worth it, as the tears and snot run down your face. I am sharing all of this with you to give you hope. To make you see that you are not alone. I am positive you will have some of your own not so great mom stories too. Here is the good news. None of that will matter years later, and for the most part they never remember any of these things anyway. What they will remember is that they saw how hard you worked. They will remember and respect your desire to win and your commitment to never give up. They will admire your tenacity and confidence. But most of all they will remember how much you always loved them and were there for them when it mattered most.
- Exhaustion and lack of self-care – When you are focusing on getting your business going and keeping your kids together and at the same time, trying to figure out where you can find time for date night so you could have 1 less argument that week, someone is being neglected. While You are trying to make decent healthy meals for your family, you will find yourself stopping to eat fast food on the run. I can totally relate. I skipped breakfast and ate on the run most days. I developed high blood pressure, and found myself 30 plus pounds over weight, at various stages of my career, with no energy at all. I felt like I was driving on empty all the time. I also went out much less than I should have with friends and I networked less because I was extremely unhappy with the way I looked. In fact, I wasn’t a very good friend at that time. I felt hopeless and stuck at more times than you could imagine. On one of my Dr. visits I remember he said to me point blank, if I didn’t change my diet, lifestyle and start to exercise, he would put me on medication that I would have to take forever! I was barely 40! That was my aha moment. I finally understood that was what I was ignoring and neglecting the most, amongst all this chaos, was me. I knew it was time to change. You will have to adjust and change too, it can’t work any other way, it has to be the opposite. You must come first all the time. I am sure you have heard the flight attendant tell you, when you are getting ready for take off, to put your oxygen mask on first, and then your childs in case of an emergency right? If you don’t take care of your physical and emotional health first, then who will take care of your business and family when you collapse? Let me also tell you that you will probably snap at your spouse, yell at your children,and put your social life on hold more often than you care to admit. The reason that this happens is that you are emotionally and physically exhausted, you are unravelling, as my good friend Dixie Lincoln Nichols self-care guru would say in her workshops. You are becoming a woman undone. We must take care of our minds and our bodies in order for us to be our best and be a better mom, wife, sister, friend, business woman and business partner. It takes a lot of energy to succeed, so we have to be in great physical condition, and be emotionally healthy as well. When you workout and eat right you will see how much more energy you will have. Believe me, you will need all the energy you can to get it all done. So make sure you have time carved out in your schedule for exercise, health appointments, and please don’t forget fun and pampering because you need it and deserve it! Always take care of your most important asset which is you!
In spite of our sacrifices and sometimes painful lessons there is good news. At some point, you will find a way to make it work and integrate all facets of your life, inclusive of your business, into one in order to achieve your goals and live your dreams. The key is to always remember to never give in, never give up, and focus on why you started your journey in the first place. Stay focused on your goals and your dreams and make sure you align your actions with them. Just keep moving forward ladies, because the truth is (this is the good part) entrepreneurship is so worth it!
Contact me with any questions or comments or just to say hello Lynette Barbieri