I’ll deal with men first so you are able to see the differences I noted.
The late 80s were a difficult time in South Africa. The economy was in bad shape. The prime overdraft rate had risen to 25% in 1985. Large scale retrenchments were taking place. Even senior managers were not exempt from this. So we had a large number of people approaching us for assistance.
This is what handicapped men
While there is nothing wrong with ‘thinking big’, to expect to replace the salary package of a manager in a large corporate in the short term is not realistic. Small businesses do not grow from zero to large profits overnight.
While their ideas may have been good they usually had no concept of what would be required of them in a small business. They were accustomed to steering a large ship from the corner office. They dealt with strategy, took part in important negotiations, and ‘managed’. But many had no idea of what made the business they worked for tick. This is not uncommon. It is usually only a few people in very large businesses that know how it all works. In their jobs a lot of what happened took place without them actually having to actually do anything. There were human resource departments, sales departments, purchasing departments etc. which is fine. However, in their own businesses they would have to do all of this. Many did not have a clue – but they were filled with confidence – mostly misplaced. In the initial stages of starting a small business one has to do everything. One has no PA taking care of the details of your daily work life for you.
This is why women had an advantage:
- They were accustomed to being on duty 24/7/365.
- They knew what it was like to deal with petty egos on an almost daily basis. If you have teenage children you will know what I mean.
- They knew how to source things. If they were married their corporate soldiers were too busy at work to help. So they had experience in finding things. From lawnmower spares to paper for the printer at home. So clearly I’m not referring to the groceries.
- They were more experienced in negotiating at an inter-personal level (see teenager comment above).
- Many had to do all of the above while having full-time jobs. So they had two jobs.
- While some feel that true multi-tasking is a myth women can be great at juggling while focusing on each item in the air. No closing the office door for a bit of quiet time.
“Women have been starting businesses at a higher rate than men for the last 20 years and tend to create home-based micro (less than 5 employees) and small businesses. Women will create over half of the 9.72 million new small business jobs expected to be created by 2018 and more and more are doing this from home offices across the country. It’s a surprising statistic, especially considering that women-owned businesses only created 16 percent of total U.S. jobs that existed in 2010.” - http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2012/06/08/entrepreneurship-is-the-new-womens-movement/
I’m on Twitter @Mel_BrooksSA