2022 is Giving You Permission to be an Entrepreneur
The cultural conversation around entrepreneurship tends to focus predominantly on the male experience. This may not come as a surprise as entrepreneurship has traditionally been associated with men and was once considered a form of masculinity. In years gone by, some even claimed that entrepreneurship required high levels of testosterone. Although this may now seem absurd, this traditional association of entrepreneurship with masculinity and its embedded assumptions can have serious implications for those considering entrepreneurship who do not fit the ideal image of the male entrepreneur – including women.
In academia, the debate regarding entrepreneurial identity has drawn attention to the gender blind assumptions informing this analysis, thus suggesting that the normal entrepreneur is a white 35yr old male (McAdam, 2013, 2022). Indeed, this lack of fit with the accepted mode of entrepreneurship has resulted in women being made invisible, marginalized and deemed the ‘other’, in the entrepreneurship field (Ahl, 2006). Women must, therefore, reach into a social space that is fundamentally unsympathetic to their gendered characterization. For those women who decide to engage in entrepreneurial activity, they are positioned within the contemporary entrepreneurial discourse, including popular media, as a discrete and separate category with their own label – “female entrepreneurs” or even mumpreneurs. This special classification only goes to confirm that there are normal entrepreneurs (men, family teams, partnerships) and, separate from them, are women.
It is unsurprising therefore that women may be reluctant to claim the entrepreneurial identity (indeed many I have worked with refer to their “wee business”!) and feel that they may need permission to be an entrepreneur. So as the new year approaches, rather than waiting for permission, I have identified 5 key thinking points and takeaways for anyone thinking of taking the entrepreneurial plunge in 2022.
- Don’t wait till you have all your ducks neatly in a row. You do not have to wait until you get a degree, gain 10 years’ experience or reach some other self-prescribed milestone before you can be an entrepreneur – Just do it!
- Surround yourself with a tribe of like-minded individuals who are doing big things as they will inspire you to do big things via their role-modelling behaviour and they will act as your cheerleaders.
- Try to see failure differently. We need to realize that testing, making smart mistakes and experimenting and failing forward is high yield activity. It gets us to our goals faster than playing it safe.
- Mindset matters – mindsets can help to create a vision of what is possible but they can also act as unconscious constraints, limiting what is possible, especially if we focus on our problems, our worries, and allow impostor syndrome to take hold.
- And as Susan Jeffers says – Feel the fear and do it anyway!
Wishing you all an exciting entrepreneurial year!
Author: Professor Maura McAdam
Maura is a conference chair at the forthcoming Diana 2022 Conference – https://business.dcu.ie/event/2022-diana-international-research-conference-and-impact-day/
The Diana Conference is the premier international research conference on women’s entrepreneurship, gathering a collaborative network of researchers studying women’s entrepreneurship from more than 60 countries.