Today’s generation of women-owned firms in the United States contribute nearly $3 trillion to our national economy, create or maintain 23 million jobs and produce employment for 16 percent of the U.S. workforce, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research’s economic impact study.
The difference between this generation of women and that of our mother’s is, simply, choice. In the ’60s and ’70s, women forged out into the workforce to exercise their rights to a career. As they began feeling the pressure from the demands of balancing career and motherhood, many opted to resume the role of stay-at-home mom.
In the last decade, the shift in thought has been, “If I am going to put myself out into the world, I want to choose a career that is an extension of who I am as a person. If I am going to put this much energy and effort into my career, while continuing to take care of my family, I want to create something that I really love to do, that I am passionate about.”
Women want to feel a sense of accomplishment. They want a sense of identity separate from their relationship and their children. When this happens, they feel more fulfilled and, in turn, have more to give to those they love.
Connie Delong’s son, Tom, contacted me a year ago to coach his mother to find a career that would be fulfilling to her. Delong had a strong desire to create a career that was meaningful and uplifting. She had been in the mortgage business for years for financial reasons only.
“It is very stressful work and even though I am good at it, it was never very fulfilling for me,” Delong said.
Her true passion is grief recovery support, which she had been doing for years on a volunteer basis through Horizon Hospice of Poway. She wanted to start her own business for a longtime, but was afraid to take the leap and leave her job.
“This economy forced me to find a new way to pay the bills. My gut was telling me that at this point in my life I could no longer work at a job that was unsatisfying. Life is too short to not go after your dreams,” Delong said. “My life and business coach helped me move past my fear of becoming an entrepreneur, and then supported me in laying out a step-by-step strategic plan to create my own grief counseling business.”
Delong is now the proud president of San Diego-based Breakthrough Grief Recovery. She recently stated that she hasn’t been this excited about her life in years.
Linda Webb walked into my office feeling stuck and run down. She used to be a buyer at Nordstrom’s, but went through a divorce and couldn’t travel anymore because she needed to be home with her young children.
She took a job for survival purposes, time quickly passed and before she knew it, 10 years had gone by and her kids were in high school. Webb said she felt like she was running on a hamster wheel that wasn’t going anywhere.
Webb always wanted her own fashion store. She loved the creativity of fashion, but felt having her own storefront was not a viable option. The other side of the story is that Webb’s mother had passed away from pancreatic cancer a few years before.
She said her mom used to find pennies at her feet all the time and would always pick them up and make a wish. Webb’s mom told her that it meant someone in heaven was watching over her. For the few months after her mom passed, Webb was finding pennies everywhere.
Over several months, I guided Webb to help her make her dream come true. She is now the president of heavenspennies.com, an online fashion store. A portion of the proceeds go to pancreatic cancer research, hence the name.
The keyword here is choice, and women are choosing to re-invent themselves in ways that fit their lifestyle, dreams and desires, rather than what has been expected of them by society or family. When they move past their fears and take steps in this direction, watch out. There is absolutely nothing they cannot achieve.