Monday, April 13, 2009
“Yeah, but I’m not very crafty,” is a comment I often hear from women when I start talking about entrepreneurialism. As if making things using needles or thread or paint or yarn are somehow the only ways for women to be entrepreneurs.
I Get It:
Don’t get me wrong--I get it. As I’ve written before, I was never that lemonade-stand kid. But now that I’m all grown up, somehow I managed to find myself with not one but a small handful of entrepreneurial ventures, and I realize that I had to overcome several misconceptions along the way. Misconceptions that I think are worth sharing...
you have to make something. A quick scan through my archives will clearly reveal that I Love making stuff and Love the stuff other people make. But creating a product to sell is only one way among many to be an entrepreneur. Selling a product you don’t make, for instance, is a very popular way to earn a living (just look at all those home-party business opportunities out there). Selling a service (teaching, consulting, designing, etc.) is also an almost limitless way to gain a wage. In other words, being crafty is not a prerequisite.
you have to make a lot of money for it to be “real.” This fallacy is one of my pet peeves. Yes, money is a great legitimizer of work. But lots of women I know use their entrepreneurialism to share their creativity with the world, enhance the lives of others, or earn supplemental income for important causes. Maybe their businesses aren’t big or fancy, but they are fulfilling. And that, to me, is as “real” as it gets.
you have to have a formal business. This is probably one of the biggest hurdles to overcome--this idea that in order to nurture your entrepreneurialism you have to create a business name and compute taxes and hire an accountant and buy stationary. In reality, a lot of entrepreneurial activities are informal. It is very clever, for instance, to use your web design skills in a trade for piano lessons. Or to exercise your event-planning expertise to organize a swap meet. These activities have monetary value (either by making or saving money), but are not formal at all.
Why So Much Attention?
And why do I put so much emphasis on entrepreneurialism? Because I believe that we as women are innately talented and creative, but that we often don’t see our talents as entrepreneurial opportunities. This is a crying shame to me, recession or not. Intuitively I think we understand that “work” doesn’t fall so neatly into “employment” and “parenting,” and yet we so often find ourselves in these little boxes anyway. By placing a high premium on entrepreneurialism, I’m hoping to encourage all of us to see work in a more realistic light: as fluid, unconventional, creative opportunities for us to share/barter/sell our skills with others, and receive likewise from them.
So when we stop seeing entrepreneurialism as just a formal-tax-paying-number-crunching-income-earning endeavor, but also as community-stewardship-resourcefulness-creativity, we might just find ourselves out in the lawn with lemonade.
Previous Recessionista Posts:
Your Inner Entrepreneur
Smarty Pants: Jobs vs. Livelihoods
A Wallet Full of Friends