I can still remember the lyrics to the 1980s Enjoli perfume TV commercial jingle: “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never let you forget you’re a man. ‘Cause I’m a woman…Enjoli!” While those lyrics were telling the world that if you wore Enjoli perfume, you would be a woman who could do anything, looking back it seems that it was also a battle cry for women in the workplace. Some thirty plus years later, women are still fighting for equal ground at work, especially when it comes to being an entrepreneur.
This month, we’re putting the term “entrepreneur” under the microscope. We can all be entrepreneurs at work - whether we’re actually starting a business or we’re a line cook, or an administrative assistant, or a nurse, or whatever. We can own our jobs. We can keep evolving. We can keep offering input to our bosses and colleagues on how to make our jobs better, how to make our teams better, and how to make our organizations better. Because, essentially, that’s what entrepreneurs do. They find something that isn’t working quite right and they want to make it better. This week, we dig deeper into the world of female entrepreneurs. We will talk with our favorite local career counselor on how women can get into a more entrepreneurial mindset and hear the story of how one woman is succeeding as a “momprenuer.”
A woman’s perspective
Men may be from Mars and women from Venus, but are the two sexes that much different when it comes to running a business? “Psychologically speaking, science proves women have every ability a man has regarding business mindedness (and vice versa), but historical and social conditions create distinctions,” said Dr. Natosha K. Monroe, a psychological consultant and cognitive behavioral therapist with offices in Fort Worth and Southlake. When I asked Monroe about the advantages women, and especially moms, bring to the table in terms of starting a business, she had several examples. “Research over the past 15 years has noted different tendencies between the female brain and the male brain. Some of these differences equip women for entrepreneurial success, in some ways perhaps better than men. The female brain tends to be less linear in thinking and more envisioning of bigger picture as well as able to infer the perspective or needs of others. Rapid shifting attention on multiple tasks that are very different in makeup is a great advantage in business. Another advantage for entrepreneurship among moms would be that the female brain is significantly better at empathizing than systemizing, so there will be more of a natural interest in the more social aspects of what may be necessary to envision and maintain a business as well as more accurately envisioning the big picture and being able to then break down the essential steps rather than the other way around.”
Monroe also pointed out that while many ‘mompreneurs’ may experience significant guilt that comes with sacrificing time with their children to run the business, there are ways to manage those feelings. “Women that may experience ‘mommy guilt’ should seek out opportunities to work through it rather than let it deter them from their goals. Finding a mentor and meeting with them regularly is a great idea for any entrepreneur as a way to garner professional as well as personal insight and support. Having a person to confide in and receive support from is an important thing for women and moms pursuing new career goals whether that is a friend, family member, or psychological professional," Monroe said.
Show the love and have some fun
For women, really for anyone, being an entrepreneur is tough. While it’s definitely an uphill climb, it’s also a chance to chase the dream of working for yourself. A perfect example of someone doing just that is Alexa Singleton. A relatively new mompreneur, Singleton is a men’s hair stylist and single mom who worked at a Keller salon as a stylist and marketing manager. We met a few years ago while I was covering that salon for an article and she introduced me to new words that substituted familiar ones to describe the experience she gave her clients. Instead of a place where men could go for therapy, she provided “hair-apy.” And instead of pampering, her clients were getting a solid dose of “man-pering” whenever they sat down in her chair.
A few months ago, she didn’t like the way things were going with the salon so she started talking to some of her contacts about getting her own place. “A friend of mine managed Reign in Southlake and a suite had come open. I had a strong client list and knew that most of them would come over with me, so I took a chance on myself,” said Singleton. Not only did almost all of her clients make the move with her, but she’s acquired new clients in record time. The reason? “For me, it’s not just about the hair. My guys could go down the street and get an $11 haircut and be done with it,” Singleton said. “They need a respite, a place where they can take a break from all of the obligations of life and chat with a friend. My guys are the ones putting food in my daughter’s mouth. They are putting clothes on our backs. I am well aware of that every time one of my guys gets in my chair. I want to make sure that they leave my suite in a better place than when they came in. Plus, I make sure they get the best haircut of their life.”
Singleton offers us a great reminder of the kind of attitude we need at work. Whether we’re a hair stylist, or a ninth grade teacher, or a tech company CEO, we’ve got to sweat the details; we’ve got to care about the people. If you don’t, then get the heck out of Dodge and do something else. Singleton came to a realization long ago that being a hair stylist was not only something that she was good at, but it allowed her to do what she really loves to do - care about people and make real connections. “I get to talk with people and laugh with them all day long. Plus, I also get to play with hair. How fun is that?” Singleton said.
Being an entrepreneur is scary, and stressful, and it can be exhausting. But it can also be exhilarating, and completely fulfilling and, yes, fun. No matter if we’re a, “mompreneur” or “dadpreneur” or whoever you are, the most powerful thing we can bring to the table when starting a business is the right attitude. We’ve got to care about it, we’ve got to love it, and yes, we should be having fun at times doing it. Because if not, why are we in it?
For more information on Dr. Natosha K. Monroe, look under “Find a Therapist” at www.psychologytoday.com.
For more information on hair stylist Alexa Singleton, visit www.styleseat.com/i/alexasingleton