Paving the Way for the Next Generation of Female Entrepreneurs
When reading today’s headlines of the Coronavirus’s impacts on women’s livelihoods or small business closures’ statistics, it’s easy to become caught up in the news and the fear. The statistics alone can make you feel like your head is spinning, and when you pair that with recent news of a female recession and growth of the gender pay gap, it can feel like we’ve still got a mountain to climb.
But who says you have to play their game? Yes, there is a statistical gender pay gap, glass ceilings, and inequality in our workplace and homes, and yes, we need to work to change the systems that keep women and minorities down. Many industries are still predominantly male or disproportionately male to the number of women they serve. Take Financial Planning, for instance; we’ve learned that only 15-20% of all financial planners are women, and only 23% of Certified Financial Planners (CFP) are women. On average, we also know that women earn roughly 81 cents on the dollar to their male counterparts across industries. Focusing on the statistics is a benchmark to show the work left to be done, but it doesn’t mean that you have to be another statistic. Rather than focusing on the gap and challenges, let’s seize the opportunity for you to achieve greatness. You don’t have to play by their rules in your career while we all work to make a brighter future for the next generation by role modeling what is possible.
One of the most exciting ways I see women beat these odds is to listen to the call of entrepreneurialism. I’m not saying that everyone is prepared to be an entrepreneur. Running your own business comes with its own challenges, headaches, struggles, and rewards. It’s not for the faint of heart, those seeking a weekly paycheck or craving financial security, as many businesses don’t turn a viable profit when first starting. But for those trailblazers, those fierce women who have decided to hang out their own shingle, pave their own way, and do more than trade their time for a paycheck to make a difference and impact in the world, they are the fearless females I focus on here.
Why? You might ask. Well, let me take you back to where it all started. As a teenager, I was not an academic superstar, athletic, or had any other noticeable talents. I was not happy and had accepted that was my life. Yet after transferring to a new all-girls school as a junior in Hong Kong, a group of amazing girls befriended me. They saw me for who I was, accepted me. I was what one might consider a wallflower, yet these three friends helped me find my way and blossom as a teenager. We may live on different continents now, yet we are still well connected, and I consider them my dearest friends and my first advocates that helped me realize the strength I had in myself to forge new paths and make my visions a reality.
When I immigrated to the United States with my husband over 25 years ago, I felt like a wallflower once again. Unseen, unheard with no network or friends in the U.S. Yet again, kind women from the community took me in, provided opportunities for me to restart my career, and saw my potential. It’s from the kindness of both men and women throughout my life that I am where I am today. These individuals, who pushed me to achieve more, inspired me to chase my dreams, provided me the guidance and tools I needed, and welcomed me into their communities with open arms that helped shape my personal and professional life.
These experiences of being seen, welcomed, and supported are why I continue to pay others’ kindness forward by introducing and connecting individuals, welcoming others into groups and conversations, and supporting the next generation of female leaders. You do not have to be another statistic! Your community, network, and fellow professionals can help you build a business, create financial freedom and achieve your goals, but you must put in the work.
No, it will not likely be easy, but what worthwhile in life ever is? No, there is no playbook of precisely what to do and how to do it for the average business, and yes, you’ll likely make mistakes along the way. But, if you reach out to your fellow entrepreneurs, women professionals, and support network, if you are willing to dare to be seen for who you are and what you can offer, and if you are ready to take brave steps, the sky’s the limit.
My goal is to inspire you to take decisive action, to let go of the fears that may be holding you back, to provide you the tools, techniques, and skills I’ve built over the years so that you can learn from my mistakes and take what will work for you and your vision. While I don’t have all the answers, I’m eager to share my cliff notes to help you get ahead in your entrepreneurial journey and make the impact in the world you desire to see.
When women unite, we can move mountains. It’s time to start the next leg of your journey; your future is calling. Are you brave enough to answer?
Lifelong friends: Alice Lo, Stella Kwan, Stella Sin & Alice Tang