Never before in history has so much been asked of women.

This goes triple when we’re talking about entrepreneurial women.

While 30 Percent of businesses in the US are owned by women, only 2 Percent ever make more than $1Million. [1]

There are many reasons for this – in Australia, it’s often because women start businesses for different reasons than men. In fact, a study by the AWCCI found that 44 Percent of Australian women lead businesses were started for “flexibility”. [2]

However, a study by GEM also found that women have lower perceptions of their capabilities than men. [3]  So often, I meet incredible women who have amazing gifts to offer the world and who would really love to take on that role in their life – but a lack of belief in their own capabilities holds them back.

There’s also the fact that the majority of women who start a business have no background in management, coming from more traditional “womens” careers – such as teaching, nursing and clerical roles. [4]

Perhaps more of a concern than any of this,

“Women more often operate businesses as single founders and without employees. One-woman operations, however, cannot leverage the ideas, abilities, resources and connections of co-founders. … from an economic development standpoint, we also need women that will engage others in these endeavors. It perhaps brings up questions about collaboration as a cultural value and how this is perceived in male versus female businesses.” [5]

I want to repeat that, because it’s key:

“… brings up questions about collaboration as a cultural value and how this is perceived in male versus female businesses.”

Because this is what I keep seeing.

Women who believe they have to do it all alone.

That having help somehow makes them less.

I’ve been binge-watching the TV show House over the last few months – and there was a moment when one of the male doctors says to Lisa Cuddy,

Any man in your position would have 3 assistants and a wife and nanny at home helping with the children – why do you think you need to do it all on your own?

And this so perfectly sums up our dilemma.

Somewhere along the line we took the idea of “women can have it all!” and turned it into “women must have it all and they must do it all on their own with no support from anyone else, lest they be crucified by society, the media and each other!”.

 

Can Women Have It All?

YES!

Can they have it all on their own?

Not so much.

You need to be willing to create and work with a support team.

Despite the number of women now working in full time employment or running their own businesses, a study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that women are still responsible for 75 Percent of domestic duties. [6]

From personal observation, I’d say this isn’t an issue of unsupportive husbands – but a reflection of a lack of time. When both spouses are working full-time, trying to spend time with their children and to fit in at least a small personal life, something has got to give.

And men are more likely to not care so much about the house being a mess or the kids eating cereal for dinner.

Women, on the other hand, will forego personal and relaxation time out of guilt. They’ll hold themselves to a completely unreasonable standard of perfection – a standard that will always find them wanting.

 

From Supporter To Supported

When my clients first start making serious money ($500k+), the first thing I recommend they do is to hire home help.

They always fight me, in the beginning.

They fight me because they’re afraid of being judged by other women – which they almost always are.

They fight me because they’re afraid of losing quality time with their children – which they never do.

Remember: it’s only been in the last 50-odd years that women have been expected to raise families on their own. Before that, it was totally normal to have your mother and / or mother-in-law living down the street, helping you out. And that’s when your only (only as in singular, not as in diminished) role was to take care of the home and the children.

What, on Earth, makes women think they can take care of a household, children, and run a business on their own?

More importantly – what makes women bristle when I say that?

Why are you less for needing help?

How does the love and support of other people diminish you?

I don’t have children and I couldn’t do my job without my support team.

I have a support team, across the home and business, of five people.

Does that make me less?

I prefer to see it as a case of being SO loved and SO supported that I have the freedom to create the life for my clients, myself and my support team that we all deserve.

 

“Behind Every Great Man, Is A Great Woman.”

But when a woman is great, who is behind her?

I asked some of my clients about the women they most admire. They named people like Oprah, Angelina Jolie, Michelle Obama, Serena and Venus Williams, Dame Judy Dench, JK Rowling and Adele.

All of these women have support teams – business teams, domestic teams.

Do you admire their achievements less because they had help?

Does having a tennis coach make Venus William less amazing?

Does having domestic help somehow detract from Michelle Obama’s achievements as First Lady?

Does Oprah’s significant sized team at Harpo Studios detract from her business accomplishments?

Of course, these questions become even more interesting when I ask you about the men you admire. They also have support teams – except, you’ll find almost no information about that, anywhere. There are no articles written about it. There are no feature pieces. Because it’s just a given that men who run large businesses – and countries – have a support team behind them.

 

It Takes A Village

If you’re a woman who is looking to take your business to multiple 7 figures, at a minimum, you need a support team made up of:

  • Full-time home help – someone to do the laundry, the cooking, run errands and take care of the things you don’t get joy from. The point here is NOT to outsource quality time – but to outsource lack of quality time. And that’s different for each person. For instance, some of my clients LOVE school drop off time – for them, it’s a time to really connect with their kids. If you feel that way, don’t give it up! For other parents, school drop off is a horrible chore that just needs to get done. If that’s the case – give the kids a hug and send them out the door with your home helper.
  • A full-time Personal Assistant – someone to make appointments, write letters, do research, handle customer service calls, run errands and take care of the things in the business you don’t get joy from.

Will hiring these people draw fire from outsiders?

Possibly. I know women whose parents, parents in law, friends and acquaintances have had a great deal to say on the matter.

But once these women get used to living with this kind of assistance, the criticism is easier to take. They know they’re less exhausted. They know they’re spending more quality time with their kids, rather than doing laundry and vacuuming. They know they’re doing what’s right for them and for their family.

These women also join communities of women of a similar mindset, so that they have support networks during these times.

The vast majority of women in business are fairly good at finding other women to talk to – but we’re very, very bad at asking for help. We support other women. But we struggle when it comes to asking for the support we need.

What if, instead of seeing your need for help as a weakness, you built yourself a support team and a community?

What if you let go of the unrealistic expectation that you can do it alone and instead built your own village?

And what if, instead of this making you “less” or a “failure”, it actually made you a success? What if allowing yourself to be supported is actually a key component in supporting others?

 

The 8 Percent Village

If you have questions about this article, are looking for a supportive and entrepreneurial environment or are looking for more ways to engage with your Great Work, join us over at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/8PercentVillage/

A community of artists and entrepreneurs supporting each other to engage in their Great Work.

 

[1] Zimmerman, Eilene. “Only 2% Of Women-Owned Businesses Break The $1 Million Mark — Here’s How To Be One Of Them”. Forbes.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.
[2] AWCCI National Research. 1st ed. AWCCI, 2016. Web. 28 Mar. 2016. http://www.security4women.org.au/wp-content/uploads/AWCCI_National-Research-RegionalvsMetro_12.pdf
[3] Kelley, Donna J et al. GEM 2012 Womens Report. 1st ed. Global Entrepreneurship Research Association, 2013. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.
[4] Winn, Joan. “Women Entrepreneurs – Can We Remove The Barriers?”. Leadershipforwomen.com.au. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.
[5] Kelley, Donna J et al. GEM 2012 Womens Report. 1st ed. Global Entrepreneurship Research Association, 2013. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.
[6] “4102.0 – Australian Social Trends, March 2009”. Abs.gov.au. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 Mar. 2016

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