It was the first time Michelle let her mind wander in months. Or maybe the first time in years. She had finally taken that hard earned vacation. And the change of place was feeling awesome.
Sitting in the sun, listening to the waves hitting the shore, the sound of kids playing nearby. But the more her mind wandered, the more it came back to the same thought: “I’m so ready for a change”.
Summer is a time of change. Vacations, in particular, have a way of throwing you into full tilt change. Change of scenery, change of daily routine, change of people you spend the day with, change of attitude (hopefully), change of pace, change of activities, etc.
And sometimes change inspires more change. When you step outside your routine, it gives you the chance to do some thinking. You might find yourself in Michelle’s flip flops; reflecting on your career, your future, or your impact. If you are a woman leader considering a career transition, you are not alone.
Recent numbers indicate an increase in women leaders making the transition from a corporate role to a startup business. The businesses women leaders are starting range from a solopreneur or consulting model to launching a fast-growing concept that builds to 100 employees or more.
Age does not appear to be a significant factor, although 40-65 seems to be the sweet spot. This data from the National Women’s Business Council chart is a few years old, but the trend it reflects is continuing:
Are you experiencing the “push” or the “pull”?
In July, the National Women’s Business Council published a comprehensive study looking at what’s contributing to the rise in women entrepreneurs. The report, Necessity as a Driver of Women’s Entrepreneurship, in part explores the factors of ”push” and “pull”:
“These are typically referred to as “push” and “pull” factors, where pull factors are often associated with opportunity and push factors are associated with necessity.
With respect to push, or necessity-based, factors, Hisrich and Brush (1985) mention lack of promotional opportunities and recognition for women, consistent with the glass ceiling limitation discussed by Bhola, et al. (2006). Orhan and Scott (2001) identify several other push factors specific to women, including difficulty finding a job, dissatisfaction with salaries, an inflexible work schedule, and insufficient family income.
While many of these factors might appear to be gender-neutral characteristics, the authors specify a particular link between workplace dissatisfaction and the “glass ceiling” that impedes executive women from reaching more senior executive positions. The authors also attribute the push to entrepreneurship to women’s dissatisfaction with “a dominant masculine business culture, characterized by the hierarchy, the ‘old-boys’ networks’ and the use of directive power.”
“[The authors] summarize several pull factors related to greater schedule flexibility and control, independence, self-fulfillment, and higher income. The factors of timing, opportunities, individual agency, and external social factors are all relevant when exploring necessity as a driver of women’s entrepreneurship.
With respect to timing, both opportunity and necessity entrepreneurs are driven by motivating factors and expectations that fluctuate over the life course. The self-employment decisions being made at one point in time for a particular entrepreneur might be vastly different at another point in time.“
For many of the women leaders I work with, a combination of these factors is true. From seeing a need or stumbling across an opportunity to being laid off, burned out, or driven to make a difference, they simply couldn't ignore it any longer. Often they describe it as the “perfect storm” of factors driving them to make a change.
Where do I go from here?
You’ll need to get organized if you are serious about taking the leap.
Clarify it: write down your concept or ideas, define your product or service
Monetize it: figure out how you would make money from your ideas, answer honestly: will someone actually pay for this?
Research it: look for others providing the same or similar offerings, remember: competition is a good thing because it means there is a demand
Survive it: figure out how you will replace your current income until your business takes hold, determine how you will fund the business
Identify your dream team: create a list of professional resources; attorney, advisor or mentor, website designer, administrative support, favorite ghostwriter :) etc.
Of course, you have a lot more to consider than what is listed here.
But if you are sitting on a beach somewhere and reading this article lit a spark in you, then maybe it's time for a change.
And as Sheryl Crow sings it, "A change would do you good."