As my close small business friends know, I have a deep and resounding hatred of the term ‘my little business’. Have you noticed it seems to be only women who say this? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man refer to his ‘little business’ (not a euphemism, btw…). Women often seem to have this conditioning to make themselves seem small and less of a threat - I definitely don’t mean this as a criticism of those women. I’ve done it so many times myself. Appearing to be submissive so that I’m ‘allowed’ to get my points across and being expected to be grateful for that limited chance to speak. And even when you recognise it and see yourself doing it, it is so hard to break out of that mould. Standing up and saying ‘I have a worthwhile contribution to make here and you can bloody shut up and listen’ is no easy thing to do without solid back up.
I do wonder how many women start up their businesses as a result of a job market that seems particularly unfriendly towards women at times, when their salary is taken up by childcare costs, so they stay at home with the children instead. Or, if their children are older, can’t find a suitable job that allows them to do school runs or deal with the inevitable last minute emergencies. These women stay at home and in addition to all the damn things they have to do for their families, they start their own businesses as well! We should be celebrating that, because it is absolutely bloody amazing!
I bet I could make that...
I see so many talented women create beautiful pieces of artwork, or spend hours designing and writing up patterns for various crafts, but because it’s ‘handmade’ and ‘craft’ people think it's ok to diminish that work and the effort put into it. 'Well, I bet I could do that', they say. Possibly yes you could, but you don’t do you. And if you did, I bet you’d want to charge more than a handful of 2p pieces, a few smarties, a random euro and a mysteriously sticky button that you found in your coat pocket, wouldn’t you? You’d want to be paid fairly for your expenses and the hours of work you put into your project and you’d be quite right to expect that. And don’t get me started on the whole ‘womens’ crafts being undervalued. I might save that for another day...
The inevitable unsolicited opinions
I’m a great lover of Brené Brown (brenebrown.com) and live by one of her quotes, “If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion, I am not interested in or open to your feedback”. Why would we small business owners listen to that random person at a craft fair, with their pretty useless and no doubt unsolicited advice? I’ve got a cross stitch for that too incidentally. Did you have any idea what it took before you got into it, because I certainly didn’t? So don’t listen to those people who aren’t entrepreneurs and have absolutely no experience in running their own business. Because that’s what you are, an entrepreneur, you create something of value that other people will buy and in addition to that you do the marketing and the finances and the customer service and the post run and make the tea and...and...and. These are not insignificant tasks. And in spite of what some people would have you think, not everyone has the ability to do this, but you do! So do not minimise your achievements or stop yourself from dreaming big, by referring to your fabulous enterprise as your ‘little business’. Make damn sure to let people know you’re a badass entrepreneur!
If you’re a small business owner, I’d love to know why you started your business? Let me know in the comments below
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