No headline has ever made me more ecstatic than the one in Forbes last week that read: Entrepreneurship is the New Women’s Movement. The author discussed how the modern professional woman, who has spent 40 years climbing powerful and influential corporate ladders, is ditching the high-powered gig to fly solo and work from home as an entrepreneur. But what’s behind what could be the largest feminism movement in just under a half century?
Forbes contributor Larissa Haw sets out to blame unrealistic expectations, muddied career goals and short-sighted thinking as reasons why women, particularly Millennials, are unhappy in the corporate environment and decide to take the entrepreneurial leap. But I have to wonder – what’s so unrealistic about our expectations of flexibility, convenience, autonomy and peace?
If you ask me, corporate culture is to blame for ostracizing our nation’s most powerful occupational group – mompreneurs.
Why Corporate Doesn’t Work for Moms
It would be interesting to really get to know who’s at the heart of the new feminist movement and I’m willing to bet that a large chunk of the group is, in fact, moms. Those who, after having children, realize that the cut-throat and competitive corporate arena isn’t conducive to fostering a quality family life.
Take Rosanna Casper for instance, founder of online bridal boutique, Idojour.com. It took Casper becoming a mom to finally admit that she was far from fulfilled. Casper constantly felt that she was letting either work or her family down. Her 2.5 hours daily commute only made matters worse.
Jodi Furman is another example. After nearly 10 years at a Fortune 100 Company, Jodi Furman quit her corporate gig to pursue her own enterprise, Live Fabuless. She said the balance of a high-powered career in corporate and a young, active family was simply unsustainable for her family.
“The very nature of a large corporation leads to feeling like a small cog in a very large wheel,” said Furman. “Because of strict corporate culture, the need for face time, constantly changing metrics and disconnect between input (time/effort) and output (metrics/rewards), there’s really no other option for women than to explore their own options of entrepreneurship. To be honest, I found working for a corporation completely soul-sucking and stultifying.”
Furman said a quick analysis of her company made her realize that corporate wasn’t the best option for the type of mother she wanted to be. She said there were very few women in leadership positions, and those that were, either had no children, grown children or a husband who was the primary caregiver.
“I think that the entrepreneurial wave is a natural reaction to the dearth of flexible options for workers, especially women and especially women who happen to be mothers,” she said.
We Work Hard, But We Do it On Our Own Terms
The truth about the modern mom is not that we have unrealistic expectations – it’s that we know what makes us happy and we won’t quit until we achieve it. We want autonomy, fulfillment, balance, independence and success and if you ask me – that’s not so unrealistic. And for a large number of us, self-employment offers all of the above.
According to a recent poll found on a Huffington Post article, 96 percent of millennial women worldwide list being independent as their most important life goal and 87 percent define success as being able to shape their own futures.
Furman couldn’t agree more. She said that becoming a mother certainly didn’t kill her ambition – it just solidified that she was not at all willing to make the sacrifices necessary to move up the corporate ladder. “If I’m going to be away from my kids, I want complete control over when and why that occurs,” she said.
Casper also said that today, she works harder than ever, but does so with a clear vision and a sense of purpose. “I can take my daughter to play dates and swim lessons and watch her color or play with her toys while I get a little work done, and that autonomy gives me a sense of balance and fulfillment.”
WAHMs are Reshaping the Occupational Landscape
What does the work-at-home mom signify to our nation? Is she a trend that’s a reflection of our dire economic environment – or is she a new breed of fierce woman that will truly shape our economy long into the future? I, for one, hope she’s the latter.
“By launching our own businesses, we are making a conscious decision to reshape the working landscape,” said Megy Karydes, founder and owner of Karydes Consulting, a marketing and PR consulting firm who works with mostly women-owned businesses. “No longer must we be beholden to someone else’s framework of how we should work.”
With whom we should work is another choice of utter importance to women. No longer do we have to deal with office politics that add even greater stress to our situations. In fact, the band of our nation’s female entrepreneurs are working alongside each other, forming partnerships with and outsourcing to each other.
According to Shawn Driscoll, founder of Succeed Coaching & Development, 99% of her clients are entrepreneurial women who have left corporate America to start their own ventures.
“These are smart, savvy, ambitious and accomplished women who realized that they would be able to have a bigger impact-and better lifestyle-by leaving than staying,” she said. “Women are finding entrepreneurship allows them to make an income, become more influential, and stay in control of their lives in a way that ‘career jobs’ just can’t provide.”
And not only is the modern mom routing her own path far from the woods of corporate, she’s making it easy for the coming generations to follow in her footsteps.
“My 10-year-old daughter sees herself as a future entrepreneur and I don’t think she is unusual,” said Driscolli. “She sees that it gives her the power to make both money and an impact, while a ‘corporate job’ represents being stuck in a grey cubicle. I suspect she is just a reflection of the next generation to realize they can make their own way versus being dependent on a job or company for security and fulfillment.”
Though we can’t be sure if work-at-home mompreneurism is a trend or a revolution, we are sure that moms nationwide are eagerly pursuing options that afford them the life they’ve always wanted – full of flexibility, convenience, autonomy, peace and yes of course, family. Cheers to that!
Now to You
How does this resonate with you? Have you had the same experiences? Please share below.