October 05, 2007
Are Female Entrepreneurs Different?
Posted by Christine Hurt

Gordon wondered aloud the other day whether directors who are women act differently than directors who are men.  Yesterday, an article in the NYT pondered whether entrepreneurs who are women act differently than entrepreneurs who are men.  Although women start businesses at twice the rate of men, almost half of those businesses have revenues of less than $10,000 and 70% have revenues of less than $50,000.  The article presents the theory of one woman, Nell Merlino, who launched a microlending business designed to provide capital to female entreprenuers.  She found that the greatest obstacle for these entreprenurs was not lack of capital, but lack of vision.  Women started businesses to give them more freedom, but were satisfied once their business grew to a certain level.  The women did not move to the next level, which would mean hiring others, delegating, and possibly more sacrifices of time.  Another voice in the article questions this theory, but a recent survey by American Express of its small business owners indicates that the first goal of male entrepreneurs is "grow the business" while the first goal of female entreprenurs is "maintain the business."

Is there something different about female entrepreneurs?  Probably many of those small businesses with modest revenues are "work from home" businesses such as selling Creative Memories, Pampered Chef, Tupperware, etc.  Although the marketing materials tell consultants that there is no limit as to how much they can make, there are obviously limits to that business model!  However, these women generally choose to be consultants because they want to work as little or as much as they want, and maybe other female entrepreneurs do the same.  Perhaps many female-owned businesses still represent the "second earner" in a family and so must yield to other family responsibilities.  However, is growth always the same as success?  Can entrepreneurs define their own success? 

The article begins with these sentences:  "Somewhere out there are hundreds of thousands of women who should be millionaires. You can find them in rented executive suites and home offices — women who started down the road to riches, but who got lost along the way."

Did they really get lost, or did they just find that they liked a different part of the road?

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Comments (2)

1. Posted by Cliff on October 8, 2007 @ 23:52 | Permalink

Bravo Christine!

Too often in America success is defined in terms of financal and status growth, seemingly without any real consideration of what it means to be successful.

For some people, success perhaps is taking a venture to "the next level." - But I wholly agree that it doesn't have to be that way for everyone.


2. Posted by christina on October 29, 2007 @ 12:45 | Permalink

I ran across the MakeMineAMillion program on www.julib.com. I thought it was a promising program for female entrepreneurs!

Your thoughts about whether or not a woman is a failure for not growing beyond her original business goals are certainly valid. While it is important to be challenged and to think beyond our goals, we also must know what is right for us and for our stakeholders.

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