It is not surprise news that I talk and write about women leaving their corporate careers to start their own businesses. Honestly, who can blame them? The glass ceiling is still in place. Then throw in the now debilitating silver ceiling into the mix and women are out the revolving doors. The economy isn’t great. Our male counterparts are making more money than we are. Plus, there is virtually no maternity/paternity leave in the U.S. compared to other countries.
I could beat you over the head with statistics. You can Google any of these terms and find out for yourself. Nevertheless, I want to share a more personal resource for this post so to shake things up.
A woman client of mine worked at a real estate office. In 2008, the bottom of her world fell out…along with the rest of the U.S. and global economy. All of my client’s retirement funds were lost, her job disappeared with her employer’s bankruptcy. Trying to draw unemployment was like trying to pull teeth without any numbing medicine. My client eventually lost her home, her car, and had to sell many of her possessions to make ends make. Having all these tragedies happen are devastating enough, but to have it happen at age 55, so close to retirement age, magnified her burdens and exacerbated her distress and rightful fears about her near and far term future.
However, as tragic and disabling as this all was for my client, she had no choice but to re-examine her work, life, and plans for the future so she could make a new life and self-affirming decisions. When she first came to me about her shocking unexpected shifts, she was stuck in the muddle, frozen like a dear in headlights, not knowing the answers she needed on her own. Would she go back to a 9 to 5 job, or would she go out and launch her own business? That’s when our work together really progressed. You guessed right, she went out on her own, but first she started a “side hussle” so her eventual move to full entrepreneurship would be smooth and gradual. Within 5 years she was not only recovered, but thriving.
Many women, especially women post age 50, who have spent their working lives climbing the corporate, firm or non-profit ladder, are facing the difficult choice between leaving to start their own businesses or staying with their company, striving to be one of the exceptions. But really, if you are going to be a trailblazer wouldn’t you want it to be on your own terms…within a career you adore, with people you enjoy and for clients you love to serve?
The question is, with the Great Recession receding and with the worldwide Occupy and Resist protests gaining significant ground swell against corporate and government greed, fraud, and environmental destruction, will we soon see a shift? Will we collectively force the hand of those in power to recognize that sustainable transformation begins with visionary leaders who understand how to do good while doing well?
Some would say only time will tell, but that view discounts the power we have to change and redesign our own future. Time may tell us what has worked, and what hasn’t…but only in the past tense.
Yet time doesn’t tell us everything. Time doesn’t have a voice. We do.
We can’t predict the future, but we can lead the way toward creating alternative futures that transform the world as we know it.
Whether you are a career professional, or a new or seasoned entrepreneur, you cannot afford to ignore the opportunity we have right now to step up and out amid the chaos and the un-ending distractions to lead the way to a greater future—not just for women, but for the world.
In the comments leave me the first step that you are making to claim your own voice and change things within your part of the world under your stewardship?
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