October is National Women's Small Business Month, which is a great time to pause and consider the thousands of female founders out in the world. As women and mothers (the female part) and serial entrepreneurs (the founder part) we definitely fall into the "Female Founder" category and love to shout out to our fellow sisters-in-arms. Yet, we tend to think of ourselves as founders with a small "f", rather than shouting out our Founder status in the spirit of Silicon Valley-dwelling, hoodie-wearing, primarily tech-focused FOUNDERS of recent years. When we see articles or resources for FOUNDERS, we typically keep on scrolling as they likely aren't talking to us.
It has often felt that articles, resources and advice for FOUNDERS don't capture the reality of life as an actual female founder. A founder who created work that allowed for flexibility first alongside the ability to raise kids and be a present parent or a primary caregiver when going back to big corporate jobs was no longer realistic or desirable. Our lives are ones that include car pool and playdates and trips to the doctor, unloading the dishwasher again, and wondering what is up with the bananas. Our work lives also include solving complicated creative problems, inventing things, leading client brainstorms and encouraging others to envision and embrace a new way to work. "founders" like us can't go to endless evening networking drinks/Zooms because, well, homework. And we aren't able to relocate to take part in a fabulous incubator, because, well, children to raise. (Perhaps now we will finally see virtual incubators gain real and lasting traction although why we needed a global pandemic for that is another post).
We are founders by design, not ego.
In the FOUNDER world, sometimes being a mom wasn't the greatest asset, regardless of how much lip service is given to the idea of funding female entrepreneurs. We have left pitch meetings and wished we had asked one of our male team members to do the pitch, or, maybe we shouldn't have used the phrase "as a mother of two". In our founder world being a mother isn't something to hide, rather something to remind those we work with that we can do all this, and yes, raise humans too. You're welcome.
We would like to encourage other women who have the spark to start that side hustle to think of themselves as founders. There is a unique rhythm to this style of work. We want to help others find their groove and share their big or big-ish ideas with the world. Being a founder for the first time feels scary and confusing, because absolutely everything has to be done by you. However, if you are a mom, well then, that is an excellent job qualification right there. No idea is too small to share with the world - not every business is going to make $38Billion, and that is just fine. Maybe your goal is to get the people in your community to use less plastic bags. Maybe you have a great product idea but don't quite know how to take the next step. Maybe you already have a full-time job and don't know how to fit growing your new idea around it. Being a founder doesn't mean you need to know all the steps right out of the gate - actually if you think you already know how to do it all, then you are probably a FOUNDER and we wish you godspeed. The very first step is the inkling of an idea. From there it is really just a series of baby steps and small problems to solve.
Our goal in connecting with other founders with a small “f” is to help more people share their good works with the world. We want to give the dreams and ideas inside of all of us a chance to be fully explored and valued. There are a thousand and one ways to slice the work cake and we need more women serving themselves. Even if you have never thought of yourself as an entrepreneur, maybe now, when the entire world of work is shifting, is the time to consider it. You will never know until you try.
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