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What Is Your Measurement for Entrepreneurial Success?

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Why money alone is a poor determiner of achievement

A lot has been reported in the news recently about the encouraging numbers when it comes to women and entrepreneurship.

For instance, according to Business Insider, women-owned companies make up 30% of all businesses. And according to The Desert Sun, “Although the creation of new independent businesses has stalled overall, the women-owned component of new U.S. firms has shot up 27% in the past eight years. Between 2007 and 2012, according to preliminary U.S. Census Bureau data, 27% of the 2% overall small business growth during this period has been attributed to women.”

Yes, women-owned businesses make less

Yet, despite this growth in women-owned businesses, there is still much ado about the fact that on the whole, female owners make less than their male counterparts. According to the same Business Insider article, “businesses owned by men are 3.5 times more likely to break the $1 million mark” than female-owned ones. This led the article’s author, Bruce Eckfeldt, to lament, “Clearly, we have a long way to go before the business world represents the general population.”

But as Morris Bescholess writes for The Desert Sun, “While the average woman-owned business tends to be much smaller in workers employed, and revenues generated, they tend to be concentrated in specialized sub-sectors that don't require the higher level of capitalization normally attributed to the ‘small business’ sector as a whole.”

So there is always more to the story than whether one business makes as much as the other, no matter what gender owns it.

Ask the right question

Perhaps the best question to ask women is, “What is your measurement for success?”

A few days ago, I wrote on my Facebook page, “The goal to investing isn't money. It needs to be greater. My goal was freedom and being able to give back.” The same holds true for starting a business and being an entrepreneur.

Sure, making money is great, but it is a poor indicator of true success as a woman. There are other factors at play, and your “why” for being in business should be much greater than cold, hard cash.

What money is really good for

Money, after all, is simply a tool that allows us to achieve greater and more important things.

For some women, it’s to be able to stay at home with the children while still contributing financially and growing their financial education. Solopreneur businesses, like those run by folks on Amazon and Etsy, are great examples of mom’s who make a great living and have the freedom to be at home and raise a family.

Never Be Afraid To Succeed image of woman working on laptop

For other women, it’s to give back while making a good living. Social entrepreneurship is a growing industry and one that women are uniquely qualified to prosper in. A friend of mine recently told me about a woman who started a benefit corporation in Arizona to help empower other women. She sells nail wraps and up to 20% of her profits will go to non-profit organizations that work towards the betterment of women. These organizations help teens and women get a better start, transition out of an abusive situation, become self-sufficient, and start their own businesses or launch a new career. My guess is she isn’t basing her success on whether she’s matching the dollar-for-dollar profits of a male-owned business that sells nail wraps for the empowerment of women (hint: there isn’t one).

Other women are set on dominating a market and there are many who are doing great financially.

The point is there are many reasons why a woman would start a business, and the measurements for success are much different and more varied than the general business writer line.

So, are you interested in starting your own business? Start first by figuring out why you want to. Then, determine what success based on the why really looks like. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache, and you’ll be laser focused.

Original publish date: October 22, 2015

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