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Kathy Marshack News

Can Entrepreneurial Women Measure Up to Their Definition of Success?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Entrepreneurial woman caring for business and familyAccording to the 2012 US Census, women own 36% of all businesses, which is a jump of 30% over 2007. This trend isn’t going away. However, the challenges for women entrepreneurs on how to deal with differences between themselves and their husbands, and find work/home balance remain.

Even in the 21st century, women are still often expected to take on a submissive, dependent, supportive role. They help their husbands, nurture their families, and care for their homes. Over time women, even successful entrepreneurs, have internalized this definition of womanhood. This can lead to women being less assertive, struggling with the choice between caring for her own needs and that of her business, and taking care of the needs of others.

Women are keenly aware of their identity in relation to others. They view themselves are caregivers, wives, and employers. Women develop their sense of self through connections with others. Their sense of worth is highly dependent on the status of their relationships.

For example, I worked with a woman named Sarah who was at a crossroads with her husband and her business. Sarah’s husband had begun helping her with her business, but the arrangement was not working. She needed to take back control of her business but still save her marriage. Despite being a successful entrepreneur, she was struggling because her sense of success was based on how her husband would adjust to the new developments.

The fact that women view the world in relational, or interpersonal terms, helps explain why many women downplay their business achievements. For example, I asked a co-entrepreneurial couple to tell me their official business titles. The wife, who had started the business five years before her husband began working with her, said she was a “sales associate,” while her husband referred to himself as the “vice president.”

Over time, our society has developed the notion that money and power are synonymous with success. Entrepreneurial women certainly find satisfaction in business accomplishments. To many women, however, true success comes from so much more. It comes from relationships, family, and personal connections, to name a few. Women have different values, and these values are significantly impacting how they design their businesses.

Women are encouraged, even expected, to marry and have children. If a woman only achieves success in business, she runs the risk of being considered a failure as a woman. Of course, each woman gets to choose if they will work, start a family, or do both. What if a woman wants to have both a family and a business venture? They have to find the balance between what they believe is required of them as a competent professional verses a good wife and mother.

Often, women end up working overtime. While maintaining, or even increasing, their commitment to secular work, they also increase the time they spend nurturing their families, relationships and caring for their homes. To make this work, many women design their business schedule around family needs. Since they are well aware of the challenges of raising a family while working, they are often willing to work with employees to maintain their own work/life balance.

In spite of the challenges, the number of woman entrepreneurs continues to rise. In fact, they often report a high level of satisfaction with both work and home life. They are successfully facing the challenge of balancing love and work.

Do you need help balancing your home life and work life? I’ve been there, and I can help! If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

I also encourage you to check out my book, Entrepreneurial Couples - Making It Work at Work and at Home. It explains why partners sometimes struggle to see eye-to-eye in business, but how to overcome differences and succeed. I encourage you to read it together as a couple and see how the suggestions can improve your home and business life.



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