Scott Shane's book, "The Illusion of Entrepreneurship" appeared in my life again recently.
I purchased the book many months ago and never got a chance to read through it entirely.
I somehow missed chapter 8, "Why Don't Women Start More Companies?"
This book has bothered me greatly since reading that chapter and I can't stop thinking about it.
Mr. Shane shares only the facts and is not trying to discourage women from starting businesses in any way. His book is all about the numbers and he has done an exhaustive search on this topic.
Granted, this book was published by Yale University in 2008, but have statistics changed since then, in this economy?
Gender is a powerful predictor in whether or not someone becomes an entrepreneur.
Women start businesses at the rate of about half of what men do and the reasons are many. They also are not as successful in businesses.
Those businesses you hear of, run by women entrepreneurs, that are so wildly successful? They are few and far between.
What is the problem? Why don't women want to enter into the business world?
Women don't enter the labor force as often as men do, even to this day, and one reason is obvious. Given the choice, many women would rather stay at home with their babies than work for someone else. I have talked to enough women over the years to know this one to be true.
There are three difficulties with women entering business, and I could relate to them myself when I began my entrepreneurial journey decades ago:
There is difficulty in obtaining financing - I never tried to obtain financing beyond a bank credit card.
The lack of personal capital - I started all my business with almost nothing.
The lack of desire for autonomy is a trait of most women - Autonomy was one of the MAIN motivating factors for me, I wanted it desperately and believed it held freedom so I could call my own shots, be where I wanted to be, and make the money I wanted to make.
Once the businesses are started by women, the performance is so poor that the numbers are staggering really.
One example from the book: "Women owned firms that have at least one employee generated an average of $87,585 in sales in 2002, as compared to $1,862,159 for similar businesses owned by men."
That was NOT a typo.
There are plenty of surprising statistics in this book and it is worth reading if you have ever considered owning your own business.
I say "surprising" because all of us have been buying into this glorified idea of entrepreneurship and the money that ensues.
Reading the statistics about women and business makes me cringe and makes me cry.
I have to cringe because my business numbers are nothing like the statistics that Mr. Shane reports.
I also have to cry because I realize that what I have been given, years ago, is nothing short of a modern day miracle when you consider the facts about women and running their own businesses.
The statistics Mr. Shames writes about may be accurate, but my entrepreneurial endeavors proved different.
One that stuck out was the statistic about how an entrepreneur (in the long run) will make more money working a job than in their business.
For me, the business gave me a higher salary. I always thought it would and it did.
I counted on the business giving me more money and it did. I forced the business to give me more money and it did.
My beliefs about what the business would do were more of a reality than what I saw in front of my eyes.
I was living on faith, hope and many prayers from the moment I started the business. This is what I contemplate the most now.
There is a statistic missing from this book. What about those that live on faith? It made a difference in my web business and it cannot be denied.
My business is here, 9 years later. Most businesses are crushed within 4 years, even those that are bankrolled by investors.
My business has been hit by the worse financial crisis we have seen in decades, just like everyone else who has a business, but it is still here, paying me.
I have had to take losses here and there because of increases in shipping, raw ingredients, employee salaries, taxes and more. Still, the business is here and chugging along.
Can I claim to be a millionaire who will show you how I did it for a hefty fee? Nope.
I can, however, claim something better and that is longevity.
I know where my money really comes from and it doesn't matter what statistics say or what women have done, will do or won't do now or in the future.
I know the world wants to deny spiritual matters in business and at the same time, there is even a trend to capitalize on "spiritual" business ideas.
I am not talking about clearing chakras here, and a weekend retreat is not going to increase anyone's bottom line according to my experience.
I am talking about running the business with 100% action and faith combined, and hoping, praying and waiting patiently for things to move forward.
I mean not getting caught up in the crazy numbers and obsession that can sometimes be inevitable when working online, especially now that social media has taken over so many lives.
It is not about the gatekeepers and pleasing them or getting on their good side by buying their programs.
It is not about how many Twitter followers you have or your FB likes or pics Pinned into viral oblivion.
It is not about depending on others to get you where you want to be.
And it is certainly not about being so rich and successful you can run people ragged thinking they can become you if they just do what you say, and do what you did to get where you are.
Every journey in life and business is different, and all this attempt at duplication of individual successes is not proving to be profitable long term. At least not for a majority of women. The statistics prove it.
Many of us are desperately attempting to make money now, trying this portal, that social media outlet and every other thing, hoping to make it work.
We hire experts and spend thousands trying to catch this wave or that wave.
We listen to the web experts of the day that come up with new concepts consistently because the truth is, NONE OF US KNOW FOR SURE WHAT WORKS 100%! We have good ideas, but we cannot know for sure.
We want to create blogs, books, programs, membership sites and just about anything to drive traffic and sell to the masses.
All this continues, while the statistics say it will never happen successfully for a majority of women entrepreneurs. Even if they do achieve, the numbers are small compared to what the opposite gender generates, for various reasons.
Something to think about.
As I sit here, I can only give thanks, because I know what happened with my business was highly unusual. I didn't have a business plan (just like many entrepreneurs) and I ran the show in the beginning with no money to back me up.
Ultimately, it is important to live in reality and face the facts that being in business and living the life of an entrepreneur is not always what is seems.
It is hard, hard, hard and will bring a God fearing woman to her knees, more often than not.
Pictures painted to us from magazines and the media are usually glorified versions of what really goes on in the entrepreneurial world.
At least that is my reality.