It Takes Guts And Courage To Be An Entrepreneur
For grassroots women entrepreneurs, it’s not about breaking through the glass ceiling; it’s about networking their way through the door, and gaining access to the table. According to JinJa Birkenbeuel, CEO, Birk Creative, once access is granted, growing and sustaining the enterprise is about three things: developing trust, doing great work and helping other women on their way in too.
Women are the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs in the United States. “Women now own 30 percent of all businesses in the US, or about 9.4 million companies, having grown by 74 percent since 1997. Together these firms generate about $1.5 trillion in revenue and employ nearly 8 million people, the report found,” says a recent article in The Christian Science Monitor.
“When I started my business I worked really hard to be consistent, on time and deliver great work in my field. For a long time, I created alone. Now, I still create and make things and I direct, but now I have creative staff, and my work even better than before. Along the way, I also worked hard to find an amazing and smart business network to help me succeed,” says Birkenbeuel. “I now have super smart people in my life I call creatives, colleagues, advisors, allies and friends. They are the foundation of my success and its sustainability.”
What is driving women to compete and succeed as entrepreneurs? “I think part of it is that women are finding it too challenging to work in corporate environments where they don’t have any control over their hours and experiences,” says Birkenbeuel. “When I was working for others, I didn’t have enough leeway to have a family and balance. When I finally had the guts to strike out on my own, I had to find courage and then act quickly on instinct.” Asking for help from a network of equally ambitious professionals and then expressing gratitude every step of the way is also key. “You’d be surprised at the help given when you just ask, and the empathy women have for other women that will drive them to help you succeed. The icing on my cake was making sure to give thanks to the people that helped me.”
Women Are Cut-Throat in Business, and Other Myths
When following the path of a woman entrepreneur, an important skill is not only identifying like-minded and –willed partners en route to building a network that supports success, but also find trusted critics and truth tellers.
“The women with whom I surround myself recognize entrepreneurial spirit and success,” says Birkenbeuel. “They also recognize women who want to better themselves and help others, and want to do the same. When other women succeed, they bask in the glow and celebrate that success because we all know we’re trying to become accomplished, have positive impacts and build wealth. They also can tell you some truths that hurt, but will help you do better.
“There’s a myth out there that women are cutthroat and hostile to other women, that they default to their own hidden biased and hire men, or that women don’t work well together and focus on appearances,” continues Birkenbeuel. “That might be true somewhere in some alternative universe, but, in my Beautiful World of Women, I keep company with those who are smart, interesting, motivated and successful by their own definition, and also really care about making things better for other entrepreneuring women.”