I read a blog post yesterday that really made me think about what it took to own/start a business. Penelope Trunk, founder of Brazen Careerist wrote a post on Tech Crunch titled, Women Don't Want to Run Startups Because They'd Rather Have Children. In the post she touches on many broad points and makes tons of assumptions about women entrepreneurs and mother's that own their own businesses. She does this of course AFTER she has decided to pretty much take a step way back and let other people run her third Start-up. She is pretty much pointing her finger at VC backed Tech companies - but she makes some bold and assumed statements about female entrepreneurs.
Here are the highlights, if you don't have the time (or stomach) to read it:
- Starting a business can be Hell
- Women are under pressure to have kids - they have biological clocks
- Women don't want to give up their personal life in exchange for the next big Thing
- She won't even go there regarding women with young children that start a business
- She compares the stupid farms people build in Farmville to how Men and Women differ
- Women want a lifestyle business, so they can control their time, work & be flexible with raising kids
Just for the Hell of it, let me counter, question or decipher her points:
Starting a Business Is Hell
Yes, yes, yes sister it sure can be Hell! But uh, anyone in this day and age that does not know that has been living under a rock or is really lacking in the whole brain department. I mean, gee thanks for starting the obvious. I sort of loathe people that fail (and yes I know harsh words, but she did fail) at something and then tell everyone else NOT to do it. It is demoralizing and patronizing. I mean she is right about the whole starting a business is hell....but it is also a hell of a good time. Those first two years for me were mostly exciting, amazing and exhilarating. Everything was so new and so much fun. I was Leo DiCaprio in The Titanic, "I'm on top of the world!"
Women Are Under Pressure to Have Kids - Due to Their Biological Clocks
What? Really? Is it real? No, it is not it was actually conceived as a metaphor for the sense of urgency some women feel regarding reaching menopause, being childless or arriving at her thirties unmarried and without a suitor. We don't really have the biological clocks - but some of us do have the need, want and desire to have children. I don't like the fact that she lumps all women into this nice little decisive statement. Even though I am not who she is talking about, since I started my business after I threw the damn clock away. I already had my children....then I started the business thank you very much.
Women Don't want to Give Up Personal life for the Next Big Thing
The funny thing is when I started Jamie's Painting & Design I thought, no I knew I was going to be the next big thing. Okay not like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates....but I was positive I was the next Rachel Ashwell or even Martha Stewart. I had such conviction and an ego that was huge. I could actually taste that desire for total world domination thing. And, for those first few years I did give up a LOT of my personal life....a lot. Our social card was empty, I worked while the children slept, I was thinking and talking about my business all of the time (shout out to those friends that are still my friends....I must have been hell-a annoying back then). It consumed me, like most entrepreneurs - I was obsessed with my baby. But, back to her statement, it is so final and um broad reaching. She, Penelope decided to quit. She decided she wanted more of her personal and private family life. I mean, she is even sort of snide saying that she wants to be the center of her family NOT her company.
The Impossibility of Starting a Business with Young Children
The crazy thing is she did this, her sons are young, she even says it in the article. But, back to the fact that she did not succeed at it, soooooo no one else should try. I did take offense to this part of the article since I was the one who did exactly that, but then I realized she has no idea who Jamie Lentzner is or what the hell to the L what Jamie's Painting & Design does. Since I am not going after VC money and I don't make some snazzy tech gadget...I am not that woman she is thumbing her nose at. But, I still don't like the statement - so there.
Playing Farmville Shows the Differences Between Men & Women
I hate, hate, hate Farmville. I never ever had the desire or time to play it. I have seen it, I have watched it being played...and I don't get he attraction. Maybe I am biased due to my total disregard and violent hatred of the game but still, I am not sure about her comparision. She claims that women build colorful fun farms and men build big McManssion farms, proving that is why so few women pitch to Venture Capitalists and that even fewer get funding. Okay? So I say to her - what does my (if I had one) fancy farm have to do with me asking or not asking for money? That means nothing to anyone. I think it proves that these men spend way too much time on their computers and Facebook. Or the men that built these huge farms are actually over compensating for something.
Women Want a Life Style Business - To Control Their Life
Okay now I am thinking she is looking at me. I have said this, wrote this, blogged this, cried this and screamed this. I like the control, but doesn't everybody? I have yet to meet a 40 something woman that did not like being in control of her own life. We can't stay 3 forever people - we need to learn how to get dressed, earn a living and use the toilet. Am I right? I think men start their businesses for the same reasons - to control their own destiny. Most uber successful entrepreneurs (I am thinking Donald Trump not Louie my Dry Cleaner) even have enormous egos and love being in control of their own lives.
But What Kind of Entrepreneur am I?
The post, as you can imagine got a ton of comments (482 at last count) and most were from women with and without biological clocks screaming at her. When I first read it I did take it personally and got all, "Oh no she didn't...." and I wanted to write a nasty comment. Then I read it a few more times and I was not as irritated as I sort of confused. I mean, I agree with her on some parts of the article (that would be one part), but coming on the heels of deciding she can not and will not do it all, sort of sounds like sour grapes.
I do know one thing, oh she is so not talking about me or Jamie's Painting & Design. She doesn't even know my name (see another Sixteen Candles reference...I think I will start slipping them into EVERY post from here on out). She knows nothing about what I do, or other like-minded women in small industries do. I tend to buy into the whole You can have it all, just not at the same time theory and my personal favorite quote, "Life is hard...deal with it". But I also think that a woman should not be held back by a ill-concieved pretend biological clock, or her real biological children.....I am just sayin' from experience and all.