I experientially state that this is true. Flexibility is as good as money.
Before I’m anything to anyone outside of the walls of my home, I am Mom. There are four kids, currently ages 9-18, who need me on a daily basis to be a Life Bracket. (And while I’m talking about Things That Are True, I will also say that it’s a myth that kids need parents less as they age. I have found the teenage years to be at least, if not more, energy-demanding than the infant and toddler years. Sure, it changes a lot when everyone can bathe themselves and wipe their own backsides. It’s downright liberating in many ways. But teenagers need your time. They need eye contact. They need a listening ear. They need money. And, they need an involved parent. This is pretty awesome, actually. It’s very rewarding and fulfilling. Just don’t let anyone say it’s easy.)
I am also Wife. And, I am Writer. I am many roles. One that I am not very good at is Employee and so have chosen to avoid that title. It’s much better to be Owner, Operator, CEO, Head Honchess, the Person in Charge.
My favorite feature of being an Entrepreneur is the flexibility it offers me.
noun, plural en·tre·pre·neurs [ahn-truh-pruh-nurz, -noorz; French ahn-truh-pruh-nœr] .1.a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerableinitiative and risk.
2.an employer of productive labor; contractor.
- I set my own hours
- I decide which contracts to accept and which to decline
- I develop, approve, and implement the products and services offered
- I streamline my energies into the most important, high return tasks
He-Man said it. But actually……
Of course, entrepreneurs also accept full responsibility. The good, the bad, the ugly (you are welcome for the Ear Worm). But it’s worth it. When I can finish a project and then elect to take three months off because one of my children needs to immediately homeschool, it’s worth it. When I can focus on ebook creation and memoir writing and know they will become later assets to my business, it’s worth it. When I don’t have to ask for approved time off and risk being told “no” by a superior, it’s worth it. When I was a single mother and needed to work late at night so that I could be a mother during the day, it was worth it.
I work to support my life: it’s not the other way around and being an entrepreneur is what empowers that. I’m sure there must be opportunities for working mothers out there where they can both work for someone else and enjoy flexibility. They must exist; I just have never found one. Most women I know struggle with finding a way to create the balance. They need to either contribute to their family’s finances or provide for them in full. In general, today’s workplace does not offer them much freedom in determining how they do that.
I was running the numbers for our household budget the other day and just completed the education assessment for my son. It’s time to come off full hiatus and gradually take on more work. There’s no stress in the decision- it’s a matter-of-fact evaluation of the work/life/family requirements. It’s organic, this way of running a business, a family, a life. It’s exactly what I need. This was confirmed through great timing: word of mouth advertising led to a new lead that I’ll certainly pursue. The word “gentle” is rarely heard in conjunction with “business” but that is exactly what this feels like. A gentle progression of manageable growth that is a means to an end feels rational, healthy, and intelligent. It means I’ll have a greater probability of avoiding burnout, work-generated stress and overwhelm, or over-commitment.
Perhaps, this is part of the strength that women bring to the business world. American business is sort of personified by a dominant male figure in a suit, blindly ambitious and capitalistically hungry. Stereotypical breadwinners of the past have had the freedom of focus that allows them to know things are taken care of at home while they work to rise to the top at work, take on employees, and make a big impression. I’m thinking out loud here but… women are usually multi-tasking. Their work isn’t their whole life, even if they love it very much. Having their energies and loyalties divided becomes personally expensive. Stress, burn out and overwhelm takes a toll on a woman’s health- something never far from the mind of anyone who say…likes Oprah. Helping women prioritize and accomplish a vision in healthy ways is a complete industry. We’re working on it! All. The. Time.
So I bring that womanly wisdom to what I do and the decision-making process I utilize: business grown more like a garden than a steamroller. It’s organic. It’s flexible. It blends together perennial and annual offerings. I scale accordingly. My women-in-business friends are doing so likewise. Our way of working, works. Flexibility is as valuable (and maybe moreso) than venture capital. Flexibility is a key to success. Women Entrepreneurs, as I have experienced and witnessed both, are quietly rising in ranks of success. Making work, work for us, is just one of the reasons why.