Melissa dos Prazeres Allard
Written by Melissa dos Prazeres Allard
Research studies will tell you that women are generally more conservative in their decision-making, relative to their business or careers, in comparison to their male counterparts. This risk-averse mindset stems from how differently girls and boys are raised, all the way to family obligations and roadblocks that women hurdle through in our working years.
While this still holds true, the gap is narrowing rapidly. We are in the midst of a transformative period for women in business on a global scale, but we don’t have to look far to observe the changes. Right here in the Valley, women are in more decision-making positions than ever before. Not only are we more assertive in steering the direction of our careers, but also more of us are freeing the constraints of our (perceived) safety nets by diving into the entrepreneurial arena.
The 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report found that 1,821 women-owned businesses were added per day in the U.S. in 2018-2019 (slightly lower than the previous year’s record-setting 1,827).
There is a direct correlation between the immersion of the digital age and the current “golden era of entrepreneurialism.” The world of opportunities is at your fingertips with the click of a button, and so is instant access to information that would — at best — take a lifetime to acquire previously.
More women have higher education credentials, which gateway to increasingly available programs (government and privately funded) that support female-owned businesses.
In some cases, women pursue the entrepreneurial, or “sidepreneurial,” route to afford ourselves the autonomy of a flexible schedule that enables us to also assume the primary caregiver role while aiming to fulfill household financial obligations, partially or completely. Or in less dire situations, simply to pursue a passion.
The staggering spike in female-owned businesses is driving job creation, wealth building and economic development in our local communities. However, the full potential of women in business has not been fully actualized, and it starts with us trusting our abilities to leap forward and out of current positions that are cozy in familiarity. As our financial and family responsibilities increase with time, those restraints of comfort hold us back even tighter under the guise of safety. That being said, overcoming self-imposed barriers is easier said than done regardless if the goal is rising higher on the corporate ladder, supplementing income or pursuing entrepreneurial dreams.
So, how do you step away from the misleading comfort zones that keep us tucked in complacency?
Here are 3 steps to get started:
Make two lists. One clearly defining the daily tasks you currently do for your job/business that are in your comfort zone, and another listing activities that you delay or avoid that would take you/your business to the next level.
When I first launched The Desk to Dusk Company, it was an exhilarating time and my days were filled juggling the daily tasks of solopreneurship in the launch phase, and not to mention being a new mum. At month 13, I hit a point where I knew how to construct a full, productive but very “safe” day. Operating and updating the e-commerce website, publishing content on social channels, managing finances, and once a month I’d throw in a networking event to get from behind the laptop — all necessary tasks, but none of which would propel the business to the next level.
The retail division of my company that sells business and evening wear is in direct competition with giant international brands and veteran small boutiques. So if I wanted to make a name for myself, I had do things outside of industry norms and my comfort zone. I made a list of the activities I needed to incorporate into my work schedule that would help accomplish these goals.
Address your fears of change: the fear of failure, rejection, the unknown or being true to yourself. Stop overvaluing opinions of others and trust yourself to fail forward and often. Every “no” is a little step closer to “yes” and serves as a learning experience on how to adjust to move forward.
Commit to small but consistent change. You don’t have to turn your world upside down overnight. Stick to the tasks on your new list and commit to making small adjustments to incorporate your uncomfortable activities daily. Calculated risks minimize failure, and create opportunities for advancement and sustainability.
Melissa dos Prazeres Allard of Fresno is a former marketing consultant with The Business Journal and is the creator of The Desk to Dusk Co., which is a lifestyle brand for women in business. For more information, visit www.desktodusk.com or @desktodusk.