Its a Juggling Act: Work Life Balance for Women Entrepreneurs

Teach a woman to fish and she will feed the whole village – African proverb

The biggest driver of the 21st century global economy will not be India or China but women coming into the workforce. Women entrepreneurs are rapidly becoming vital engines of growth and development, both locally and globally, creating tremendous opportunities around the world by opening doors to greater self-sufficiency, self-esteem, education and growth. They have a passion before profit approach and are dedicated to their business doing what they love.  While many entrepreneurs may launch their business with a clear exit strategy, women design their business in order to make a long-term, sustainable and viable living working in a field where they have a particular interest, passion, talent, knowledge or high degree of expertise. Women choose the path to entrepreneurship because it gives them the freedom to balance time and make money at the same time.

It’s a juggling act with the demands of self, family, career and social time, and women entrepreneurs are able to balance their family life better than those who were employed for someone else. Research shows that 79% of entrepreneurs have more flexibility to take care of their families. However when asked if they made more money than those with employed jobs, the response was interesting- no. And if age, children and every day demands weren’t enough, these women often also care for their aging parents and the definition of time becomes a woman entrepreneur’s greatest challenge.

So what is the key to finding harmony between the conflicting demands of family, friends, and career? How to fit roles such as wife, mother, and friend into an already hectic schedule? A holistic approach leads to work life balance and this can be seen as a pyramid of self, family, work and community, respectively.

Work Life Balance Pyramid

Work Life Balance Pyramid

SELF: One cannot exist in harmony without the other and it all starts with the self. This is the foundation of any woman’s legacy. ‘Who am I?’ ‘Why do I do what I want to do?’ are the guiding questions to the journey as a person, daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, and entrepreneur. It is not about the destination and all about the journey.

The self is the whole package of spirituality, health, personal grooming and education. The sense of well being then reflects on every facet of life – family and work. The secret is to put your own oxygen mask on first to be empowered to support and nurture the people around you. Happy, healthy women make great role models for their families and the resulting support drives them to be successful entrepreneurs. It is like a stack of building blocks forming a pyramid.

FAMILY: It’s an interesting statistic that 70% of women entrepreneurs are married; obviously pointing to a trend that financial and emotional support is required not only to ensure success, but also to provide meaning to life.  Strong family relationships are the foundation for most career women and they form great role models for their children and social network. All relationships need nurturing with time, love and a constant effort to fulfill needs and expectations. Happy healthy individuals have happy and healthy relationships and this then spills over into their work.

WORK: Women business owners are exceptionally motivated. “When you’re passionate about what you do, [prospective clients] would rather give their business to you than to your competitor,” explains Richard Nelson Bolles, author of the bestselling book ‘What Color is Your Parachute?’ They are great at time management and in a sense the perfect project manager; which the PMBOK defines as ‘a challenging high profile role with overall responsibility and shifting priorities, which requires flexibility, good judgment, strong leadership and negotiating skills.’ The intrinsic feminine qualities of multi-tasking, networking, and communication results in a workplace which motivates and empowers. Their more worker-friendly policies boost morale and lead to less turnover, less absenteeism and higher productivity. A supportive circle of family and friends is the platform available to seek advice and assistance and a major factor in the success of women entrepreneurs.

COMMUNITY: Once they move beyond the self and family, women business owners find that their playing field encompasses the community and they have the power to make a difference and leave a legacy of positive change in the word. In following their passion and purpose in life they touch the lives around themselves through contribution and effective giving to become social entrepreneurs.

Deepak Chopra defines success as “the continued expansion of happiness and progressive realization of worthy goals” in his book ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’. And the key word is ‘goals’ and not a goal. Reaching any goal, whatsoever, takes you to a happier sense of being. After all the purpose of life is…drum roll…to be happy! Stop for a moment and reflect on your thought process – if I have a million dollars, I will be happy, if I get that project, it will make me happy — so ultimately the goal is not get a project, money, relationship, whatever – it’s to be happy. Intuitively, women understand this and this is apparent in their successful juggling of career and family. They also understand that success is to have it all, a grounded complete self with great family and a business.

Its a juggling act

Its a juggling act: Work Life Balance for Women Entrepreneurs. As published in the Update Magazine, March 2011

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