The "What If's" of A Woman-Owned Business
It’s been a couple months since I’ve written here, and it made me realize two things: I’ve been confused and lost. This blog is becoming a place where I can keep it real about how I’ve been navigating running my own business. No matter how much this journey feels like a rollercoaster, I can see how I’m evolving and progressing – slowly, over time.
Sometimes it’s hard to provide updates on a monthly basis. What if your circumstances are the same they’ve been for the last 3 months? What if I show the world that I’m sometimes clueless on where to go next? What if someone thinks I’m an imposter? Yes, I have imposter syndrome and also recognize that “what if’s” aren't helpful. Maybe this is evidence of why I’ve felt stuck.
What’s been challenging is relying on this business to create a regular income for me. I also understand that I haven’t fully put my foot on the gas in terms of consistent marketing, advertising and networking. I keep myself open to new opportunities such as contracting with others and trying to brainstorm a new version of this business. These things keep me at a pause. I feel myself wanting to go full throttle and see what happens. I’m not sure why I have yet to do this considering it’s been three years.
The Olympia area is full of businesses and organizations. I often think that my ideal market would be elsewhere (like Tacoma, Seattle, or Portland), but I also recognize that Olympia has a lot of potential and opportunity. I have a goal to go around town and introduce myself to various businesses, hand out my cards, and let people know I am here and available. What’s hard about this process is it can come off sales-y and disconnected, which are both the opposite of how I'd like to conduct myself.
I’ve really had to think hard about what I offer compared to other businesses in my field. It’s been challenging to figure this out considering I don’t have a team, my equipment isn’t top tier, my website still needs work, and I have no retainer clients. But the one thing I do have is that I am a queer woman. What does this really mean in the entrepreneur world? How does this actually separate me from others, besides the labels themselves (which I’ve never been a fan of flashing in people’s faces)?
One evening, I found myself frustrated and depressed. When I start to feel this way, I usually take a hot bath with epsom salts. This helps me feel supported, like a liquid hug, and I usually spend time listening to podcasts or YouTube videos that either inspire me or help me feel heard in my complex emotions. That’s when it dawned on me – I’ve never deeply researched female entrepreneurs. I did an instant Google search and found a woman named Sage Lavine’s Ted Talk titled: “The Secret Power of Female Entrepreneurs.” These fifteen minutes brought me to tears, helped me feel seen, and inspired me to keep trying. Sage’s words shone a light on why I’ve been struggling so much to make this business thrive.
"How many women are still locked in metaphorical lockers? And how many of us have gifts that have yet to be shared with the world? And how many of us decided somewhere along the way that we’re not enough – enough to stand up, enough to speak out, enough to create lives and careers and businesses of our dreams that make a difference in the world?”
I'm definitely one of them. The only thing I’ve been consistent in this year is deciding that I’m not enough, and therefore I hide and stay stagnant. I keep myself small, and then I get aggravated watching the thousands of men in this industry keep hustling, producing, growing and expanding. Is it because I’m a woman that I'm not thriving? Maybe a little, but not in totality.
“Women are starting businesses 1.5 times faster than men over the last 15 years [this video was posted in 2019]. Yet we’re still making just 80 cents on the dollar compared to men, and 95% of us will never make more than $100,000 in a year. And of all the technology businesses started, only 5% are started by women. Forbes Magazine reports that women’s businesses are failing faster than men’s as well. Why is this? I believe it’s because many women are trying to do business in a way that's not native to them. Many women are trying to do business like men.”
That last statement really hit me. That’s what’s been hard for me, and I didn’t even realize it. That’s why I find myself getting frustrated looking at men in my field. I don’t actually want to feel this way towards them considering they have a lot of traits I wish I had. I've been projecting, because I'm envious that men are thriving with business strategies designed for and by them. Newsflash – I went into business for myself so that I could be MY OWN BOSS and have the freedom to do things the way I’d like to. Yet, I’ve been forcing myself to fit someone else’s mold. Things still don’t feel clear with this realization, but it’s a start.
“I’ve discovered that when women are aligned with our innate values, we can do anything.”
I don’t think I’m fully aligned with my innate values. Also, what are they? Damn – I’m humbled by my own question. I want to re-connect with (or discover for the first time) my deepest values and see how I can respect those with my work. This next quotation from Sage helped to further this thought process:
“Women thrive when we do business from a place of empowerment rather than power over. Generosity rather than scarcity or urgency. Collaboration rather than competition. This New Economy is available to women AND men.”
These are all the ways I’ve intuitively and naturally felt I wanted to run my business. There are not many examples in my life of this, but that does not mean they aren’t out there. I need to keep finding them because I need to convince myself that it is possible and I am capable – that I am enough.
“I’ve come to believe that the sustainability of our society depends on us using our businesses as platforms for social good and bringing solutions to the world’s most pressing problems through entrepreneurship.”
That is the vision of my business. Within the confines of an old, porcelain tub with lukewarm water, I wiped the tears from my face and found myself inspired by this one woman, knowing there are more out there. She says if she can do it, so can I. I just have to put my energy towards figuring it out, practicing self-compassion and acceptance so that I may continue pouring that onto others. It’s so easy to see how I can project onto others when I’m not satisfied with myself. Such a con to being a human.
But now I find myself with two new “what if’s” that are positive and motivating instead of negative and defeating. Sage inspired me to not only embrace these "what if's" for myself but to share them with others. So let’s all ask ourselves:
“What if giving, what if nurturing, what if caring, wasn’t just the natural thing to do in business as a woman, but the right thing to do in business PERIOD?”
“What if all women fully committed to believing in themselves and valuing themselves enough to say enough? Enough of business as usual. Enough of playing small. And enough of the imbalances that plague our planet.”
I think it's time to stop worrying and start flourishing.
Watch Sage's full Ted Talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjfnKO2ihr8
#sagelavine #tedtalksforwomen #womenownedbusiness #womenownedsmallbusiness #womenstartups #womenplayingsmall #queerwomeninbusiness #womeninbusiness #jennamasonmedia #maledominatedindustry #mediaindustry #filmindustry #womenrockingbusiness #queerwomen #entrepreneurship #womenentrepreneurs