Why are so many women choosing to turn their back on traditional careers to start their own business When you think of an entrepreneur most people think of Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk or Richard Branson. But the start-up landscape is changing and business is no longer the ‘boys’ club’ it once was.
Research from Start-Up Muster shows that one of the fastest growing demographics in the start-up space is women aged 35 – 55, with women registering businesses at three times the rate of men as they search for more flexibility, fulfilment and freedom.
The word ‘balance’ has been thrown around so many times by working mums. Many women insist that there’s no such thing but I disagree. I know many women personally who have both spare time and incredibly successful businesses. It is possible.
For Toni Joel and Nikki Horovitz, founders of globally successful brand Tonic, the search for a more flexible working arrangement was a major deciding factor in their choice to leave their former careers and create a business and lifestyle that worked better for their families.
Their business model allowed them to work just two days a week, freeing their time to raise their young children in the early childhood years, but also enabling them to have time for personal development and pursuing hobbies and interests such as yoga and theatre on the days they didn’t work.
Tonic recently celebrated its 25th birthday, and although all of the Tonic children have now finished school and grown up, Toni and Nikki continue to enjoy the benefits of this flexible working lifestyle, which is so elusive for so many working mums in traditional 9-5 jobs.
Women have been the nurturers, the carers, the healers, the comforters and the caregivers for thousands of years. When it comes to generosity and thinking of others, it’s virtually second nature.
We’ve noticed a trend lately among women business owners. They have a vision to do more than just make a profit or be their own boss. It’s a deep sense of purpose, a commitment to making the world a better place, a calling.
This unique sense of purpose is something you will rarely find in a typical corporate position and this strong desire to create something that will make an impact in the world is definitely a reason so many women are choosing entrepreneurship over their corporate careers.
For Vinita Baravkar of Bhumi, a personal passion for changing the world inspired the decision to make the leap from a career in health into entrepreneurship.
Her business produces 100 percent organic cotton products which are ethically made in India. Her passion and attention to detail means that she not only regularly visits the factories where her products are made, but she also visits the farms where the cotton is grown and ensures that the individual seeds and the soil are completely free from any chemicals, and sustainable and ethical farming practices are used.
Ensuring that every single step in the process is the best practice for the environment and the people who are employed, creates long-lasting benefits for both the end users and the people producing the products.
“After seeing first-hand the disastrous health and environmental impacts of traditional cotton-growing with farmer suicides, child labour, pesticide poisoning, birth defects, harmful dyes and toxic water ways, I knew I had to do something to be the change these people needed,” Vinita explains.
This sense of purpose is an increasingly common theme amongst women starting businesses. There is a growing trend to not just do what you love, but to leverage that love so that you can also change the world.
Creating a meaningful business that has a genuine purpose beyond profit is a core reason many women are now choosing business over traditional corporate careers.
For other women a sense of freedom and financial independence is a deciding factor in their choice to go out on their own.
Despite years of acknowledgment that there is a problem and countless measures to address these issues, the gender pay gap persists, particularly as women get older or become mothers.
“I needed flexibility for my family, but I was also tired of working in a job that didn’t fit me. I wanted ownership and the ability to choose who I work with and how I serve them,” Aerlie Wildy says.
“I got tired of measuring myself and my success by a standard set by someone else, which was ultimately formed based on their budget and a bell curve of other people’s performance,” Winnie Elbl agrees.
“I seriously think I’m unemployable now, having run businesses and not been in a proper job for years now. Having my own business means I can decide my own path,” explains Emma Veiga-Malta.
By Peace Mitchell – keynote speaker, author and CEO and co-founder of The Women’s Business School. www.thewomensbusinessschool.com