En­trepreneuri­ally Thriv­ing

SLOW Magazine - - Contents - Text: Ash­mika Pan­day Im­ages © is­tock­photo.com

Women have come a long, long way – from stay­ing at home and not be­ing al­lowed to work, to com­mand­ing the re­spect of col­leagues and clients all over the world. But what ef­fect does a chaotic home life have on a work­ing wo­man? In­ter­est­ingly, re­cent re­search sug­gests that mar­ried women are more likely to be suc­cess­ful en­trepreneurs than sin­gle women. The as­sump­tion is that, be­cause women with part­ners have more fi­nan­cial sup­port and help with fam­ily and house­hold re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, the pres­sure and de­mands of start­ing a busi­ness are eas­ier to man­age.

Yet mar­ried and sin­gle fe­male en­trepreneurs have dif­fer­ent chal­lenges and dif­fer­ent ad­van­tages. How they man­age and lever­age these, re­spec­tively, will ul­ti­mately de­ter­mine how suc­cess­ful they are in their ca­reers, says Joanne van der Walt, Sage Foun­da­tion Pro­gramme Man­ager for Africa.

Ac­cord­ing to The Hid­den Fac­tors: SA Women in Busi­ness re­search re­port car­ried out by the Sage Foun­da­tion and Liv­ing Facts, 70 % of those who had their own busi­nesses were mar­ried or liv­ing with some­one, and this may pro­vide them with sup­port, both fi­nan­cially or oth­er­wise. While 28 % of those with­out a busi­ness said their fam­ily com­mit­ments didn’t al­low them to start their own com­pa­nies, the rea­sons for why were di­verse – from in­come se­cu­rity all the way to the abil­ity to save.

Built-in In­fras­truc­ture

“There are other pos­si­ble rea­sons why women with part­ners may be more suc­cess­ful en­trepreneurs. Jug­gling home and work life forces them to or­gan­ise and pri­ori­tise and there­fore achieve a bet­ter work-life bal­ance. They’re also likely to be bet­ter at com­pro­mis­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion – two es­sen­tial busi­ness skills,” Van der Walt says.

Mary­lou Kneale, founder of Liv­ing Facts, says women who have a sup­port­ive spouse or part­ner have a “built-in in­fras­truc­ture” that they can rely on. “A sup­port­ive spouse or part­ner can pro­vide emo­tional, fi­nan­cial, fam­ily, ad­min­is­tra­tive, as well as lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port. Our re­search sug­gests that more women with part­ners/spouses are able to ride the ups and downs that come with hav­ing one’s own busi­ness than those who are sin­gle, be­cause of this sup­port net­work.”

A Case for the Sin­gle En­tre­pre­neur

Due to the mas­sive de­mands that fam­ily places on many peo­ple’s time and at­ten­tion, some mar­ried women may per­haps also feel guilty that they are not de­vot­ing enough time to their busi­nesses or their fam­i­lies – and

that’s one area where sin­gle women have the up­per hand (as­sum­ing, of course, that they’re not sin­gle moth­ers).

“With more time on their hands, sin­gle women can fo­cus ex­clu­sively on mar­ket­ing and grow­ing their busi­nesses. They also have more time for so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, which means they’re often able to net­work more than mar­ried women or those with fam­i­lies. This al­lows them to make smart con­nec­tions that could help to scale their busi­nesses,” Van der Walt says.

Al­though sin­gle women don’t have the se­cu­rity of a sec­ond house­hold in­come – and there­fore have to be more fru­gal with their money and set­tle for beans on toast some nights – they do have more flex­i­bil­ity when it comes to tak­ing risks, be­cause they don’t have to worry about the im­pact that risk will have on loved ones if it doesn’t go ac­cord­ing to plan.

Help for Hire

But there likely will come a time when the sin­gle en­tre­pre­neur will need sup­port – es­pe­cially if she’s a sin­gle mother.

“Sin­gle women have to work to build the ‘in­fras­truc­ture’ that many mar­ried women are able to rely on,” Kneale says. “This could be a fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor or fi­nan­cially as­tute col­league they can trust, an ad­min­is­tra­tion as­sis­tant, and an au pair or fam­ily mem­ber to help with the fam­ily. These sup­port­ers could be per­ma­nent or only called on when needed. There could even be trade ex­changes made – your ser­vices for some­one else’s spe­cial­i­ties. Not only will it spread the load the en­tre­pre­neur car­ries, but it also pro­vides an emo­tional net­work of sup­port when times are hard.”

Ul­ti­mately, mar­ried and sin­gle en­trepreneurs are both af­ter the same thing: to make a suc­cess of their new busi­ness ven­tures. And both might feel that there aren’t enough hours in the day or there isn’t enough money in the bank to make it hap­pen fast enough.

The key to suc­cess in busi­ness is hav­ing strong sup­port sys­tems – both per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally. For all women, whether mar­ried or oth­er­wise, the world of busi­ness is a tricky one to sur­vive in, so this Women’s Month, re­mem­ber the strength of women. Af­ter all, in the words of Michelle Obama, “There is no limit to what we, as women, can ac­com­plish.”

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