women and men toe-to-toe

Closing the Gender Gap

Why more women-owned businesses is the key to a fair financial future

This month we’ve been focusing a lot on entrepreneurship and women. To me, there’s nothing more exciting than a woman who wants to take her financial future into her own hands, pursue a passion, and start her own business.

I’m especially passionate about entrepreneurship for women because I believe that it is a great equalizer—and a force for change.

The long-term problem of gender inequality

It’s no secret that women make less than their male counterparts in the workplace, and it’s a problem that won’t be going away anytime soon, at least if things remain the way they are.

According to an article published by Cosmopolitan this week , “An American girl born this year would have to wait until nearly retirement age to make as much as a man. (And by that point, she won't have enough time to catch up.) That's according to a new report, which projects that the wage gap across America won't close until 2058.”

The article goes on to say that today “Women who work full-time and year-round still make 78 cents for every dollar earned by men.”

Whether right or wrong (and let’s face it, it’s just plain wrong), it’s clear that the contributions that women make as employees in the modern workforce are often considered less valuable than those of men.

Which women get paid less?

It would be valuable to stop here and consider, just what are women selling as employees? The reality is that they are selling their time. And in the marketplace, a woman’s time, apparently, is worth less than a man’s.

One of the great things about owning your own business is that you sell ideas, products, and services. Entrepreneurs don’t sell time like employees do, and as such, they price their ideas, products, and services at rates that the market will bear.

This technically is removed from gender because people are engaged with your business, not just with you. Between an employer and employee, the relationship is different. Gender is very much an issue because an employer is purchasing you and your time to accomplish and fulfill their ideas, products, and services…not yours.

Money follows money

True, there are still hurdles to be jumped for women in some sectors— especially tech—when it comes to investment money in women-owned businesses. But the reality is that there are many ways to fund a business outside of the traditional VC firm, and there are many different types of entrepreneurs besides the Silicon Valley darlings.

For instance, my business was funded through money I earned as a real estate investor, and those investments were funded by private equity partners who can tell a good investment when they see one on paper.

Ultimately, what investment money is looking for is viability. Money follows money. That’s why starting a small business on the side is a wonderful way of proving an idea, and building your path to financial freedom. If you can show that your business can make money, you will be able to attract money—no matter what your gender is.

The difference between entrepreneurs and employees

If you want to get out of the rat race, the very rat race that allows employers to pay women less than men in the workplace, you need to change the way you think about making money in the first place.

That, in the end, is what separates entrepreneurs from employees. I made the decision long ago to not get worked up about how unfair the system is and instead chose to use the system to my advantage.

Today, I run a company that employs both men and women—and that pays them equally. In the process, I can guarantee that I make more than I’d ever make as an employee.

The cure for the gender gap

So, what’s the cure to the gender gap in salaries? I think it starts with shoring up the gender gap in entrepreneurship. More women leading businesses will lead to fairer workplaces for all. It’s simple math.

Today, I encourage you to follow your dreams and start that business. It’s not just good for you. It’s good for everyone.

Original publish date: March 19, 2015

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