Does Size Matter?|A Question For Female Biz Owners
“What’s Holding Back Women Entrepreneurs?” This provocative headline, from The Wall Street Journal, was the lead for a well-written and researched article by Sharon G. Hadary, Former Executive Director and Founder of the Center for Women’s Business Research, on why women-owned businesses are, on average, much smaller than men-owned firms.
The adage “It’s not the size of the ship but the navigator that counts” is not an adage that Hadary agrees with. She’s concerned that if the average revenues of majority women-owned businesses continue to remain around 27% of the average of majority men-owned businesses then (1) the health of the American economy suffers and (2) women business owners aren’t reaching their full potential.
Both concerns are important issues; but for me, it was one of the causes Hadary cited for the small-biz-size phenomenon that was particularly thought-provoking.
Self-limiting Thinking or Good Choice?
Hadary states that a primary cause for the lack of women running substantial, growing businesses is their self-limiting thinking regarding their businesses and themselves. She follows that by saying that women, compared to men, set smaller goals for growth and that research shows high goal setting is the significant predictor of business growth.
My questions are:
- Couldn’t some women simply want to have smaller businesses and it have nothing to do with self-limited thinking?
- Do women business leaders/entrepreneurs have to behave and make the same decisions as male business leaders in order not to be considered as self-limiting in their thinking?
- Since there’s a wide range of variability within each gender, is it wise to make broad brush statements for women or men in business?
Hadary went on to say:
“Research also shows that the differences between women and men entrepreneurs begin with their own reasons for starting a business. Men tend to start businesses to be the “boss,” and their aim is for their businesses to grow as big as possible. Women start businesses to be personally challenged and to integrate work and family, and they want to stay at a size where they personally can oversee all aspects of the business.”
My questions are:
- Does choosing to start a business that is personally challenging and provides a work/life balance, and therefore tends to keep the business smaller, ipso facto mean the business person has self-limiting thinking?
- Should women, who make what could be called traditional choices (i.e., considering her children and family), be labeled as weak business leaders for not living up to what others say is their full potential?
- Why would attaining full potential be defined or determined by the present male standard of business size?
I want women and men to have equal opportunity to accomplish what they desire. That includes a woman choosing to scope the size of her business based on the personal challenge, her family and a desire for work/life balance without any suggestion of not living up to her potential. It also includes men having the opportunity to choose a smaller business size for the same reasons without their manhood being questioned. By the same token, equal opportunity means that women can choose to be “the boss” and grow their businesses as large as they can.
What I don’t want is for women to be seen as not reaching their potential because they didn’t choose to do something the way a man did. That would be moving backwards not forward.
What do you think reaching full potential for a woman entrepreneur means?