The secret behind female entrepreneurship
Heather Elizabeth Drudge, a female entrepreneur typically starts her morning with a good workout and a healthy breakfast, so her brain can function properly before she sits behind her computer to do her work. She finds it hard to sit behind her screen all day, so the night before Drudge writes a list of ‘to do’s’ for the following day. This way she has some direction on what she has to do when she starts her day.
As of 2012, there were 950,000 self-employed women in Canada, which accounts for 35.6% of the entrepreneur population. The number of female entrepreneurs is still growing and according to The Balance Small Business, these women are younger and have fewer years of management/ownership experience compared to male entrepreneurs.
Now, two years into Drudge’s business called Her Creative Communications, she says that the self-employment has allowed her the privilege to spend more time with her family and the flexibility to do activities.
“When I worked full-time, I worked 8 hours a day, but now I find that I don’t actually work as many hours, but I work productively,” she said.
Anne-Marie Marais, the business owner of Long Legs Media, finds it more difficult to stop working at night. “This year, because I’ve had lots of work with my clients, I’ve sadly been sitting at my desk every night until 10 p.m.”
These female business owners are both in the freelance, communications and media industry and the interesting situation is that essentially, the business is them. The business represents their personality, work ethic, and their network.
Most entrepreneurs face struggles when they first start out their business. Marais acknowledges that you have to make ends meet. “I was literally doing anything job at the beginning and I also had a part-time job,” Marais said. “I worked in a minimum wage job in order to supplement any work I was getting at the time and even until this day, if business wasn’t good, I would turn around to get a job on the side.”
For Drudge, at the time, the biggest struggle was her mindset. “It was a bit of a mental battle because I had to wrap my head around the fact that I had this opportunity,” she said. It was always on Drudge’s mind to start her own business, she could certainly resonate with people who had imposter syndrome because she had to get over that hurtle of the ‘am I capable of making a go of this’ thought.
However, for the entrepreneur there is the importance of a network, confidence, and money management. “It’s all about building a network, having a network, and making sure you cultivate that network (personally and professionally,” Marais said. This means staying in touch with previous colleagues, employers or clients such as sending a ‘touch base’ email every few months.
“Confidence is so difficult but so important,” Drudge said. “Negotiating contracts with clients is difficult but you have to have an understanding of your skill set, what your worth is and then you have to put a dollar amount on that.”
Most businesses would like you to work as much as possible for as little pay, and it’s not personal. Drudge says it’s the bottom line for small businesses and for you to get off the ground. As you build experience overtime you have the ability to invoice more.
“The most important thing as an entrepreneur is the fact that you have to manage your money, knowing that tomorrow may not be the same situation,” Marais said. “It’s a matter of looking forward in the future.” If you know your freelance project ends soon, you’ll have to start reaching out to your network to look for other projects and start setting up meetings for potential future projects.