I’m often asked why there aren’t as many women entrepreneurs as there should be. Over the years my answer has varied. Sometimes I say, it is because we play it safe. At other times I have said, it is because we don’t have enough faith in ourselves. But having mentored a number of women (as a percentage it is still miniscule), I have arrived at both a new explanation and a new solution.
Before marriage, parents frown upon the idea of their daughter becoming an entrepreneur (I mean a serious one), because god knows where her prospective husband is likely to be located and if she invests time, effort and money into building her business, who will run it when she goes away? So parents tell her that she should hold her horses till she gets married.
Then marriage happens. It takes her a while to settle into the groove and if in the meantime she discusses her entrepreneurial ambition with her husband, he, his parents and her parents will all tell her, have a baby first, then do it.
The baby comes. Five years go by, the baby is now in school, her ambition resurfaces. Let’s finish off with the second baby, says the husband. And then you can do whatever you want, uninterrupted. She falls for it yet again. The second baby comes, five more years go by.
This is a time ideally for women to become serious business owners, but I think many of us don’t because of one nagging fear. We have pretty much lost a decade, the business environment around us has changed dramatically and we are not familiar with it. How can we bring ourselves up to speed and compete with youngsters?
If only there was a refresher business course that would help women like us on our feet, there would be more women entrepreneurs.
I have identified three market segments here. All women in their late thirties, early forties, who want to bounce back and would like a course that will help them reconnect to the business environment that has since changed dramatically.
One is the woman who says, I have lost a decade but I want to go back to the corporate and play catch-up..
The second category is the woman who says, I don’t want to go back to the corporate, I want to be an entrepreneur. Not a baker or a candle-stick maker but I want to build a Facebook.
The third category is the woman who says, I neither want to go back to the corporate nor become an entrepreneur. My husband is MD of an MNC, so when I go out with him to office parties, I want to be able to participate in the conversation and not be a wallflower.
Bingo, three categories of focused women, educated, enterprising and well heeled. Big opportunity beckoning for an online-offline course. Anyone listening?