Starting a business isn’t always the easiest thing to do. The challenges women face range from lack of work-life balance, the dreaded imposter syndrome, to structural biases against women inherent in our culture. In fact, research has shown that about 42 percent of women fear running out of money by the age of 80. Unfortunately, this is even more so with women of color who often feel that they have to work twice as hard to prove themselves worthy in many workplaces.
With that said, I am inspired by women who remain unfazed against all odds and have defied societal expectation to become the change factor in their families. For these women, it isn’t just about the money. Neither is it just about the hustle or the ability to work overtime hours just to keep food on the table.
So, to get a better sense of how women of color are rising to challenge this devastating statistic, I spoke with 5 female entrepreneurs on why they chose to step out of the 9-to-5 shadow.
Here are the reasons these women chose to pursue entrepreneurship
1) The freedom to design and control one’s own schedule.
It’s not just the “steady paycheck and security,” says Candice. Candice Thomas worked for the federal government for about 15 years. She became a high-level supervisor of eight employees and was only 27 years old at the time, which was unheard of in her agency. However, she felt trapped in a life that she wasn’t passionate about. Now as an entrepreneur, she’s passionate about teaching others how to recognize and use their intuition to create the lives they want.
But she isn’t the only one letting go of a steady paycheck and solid benefits.
As a nurse who loves nursing others back to health, Nicole Monique Gill isn’t satisfied either. The freedom to control her own schedule so that she can spend more time with her daughter––who is a definite priority for her, has led to a career in the baby planning industry. Nicole serves mainly pregnant women and babies or anyone expecting a new baby whether it’s from natural childbirth, surrogacy and adoption. Not only does she enjoy what she does, she aspires to help women through motherhood culling from her own experiences as a divorcee and a single mother.
2) The desire to reclaim one’s health.
Has a demanding career got you rethinking your life’s trajectory?
Arielle Hale, single mom and entrepreneur, is also familiar with a lifestyle that ties you to your work. But the unexpected arrival of her son two years into her business changed her plans. After working as a virtual assistant clocking
100 hours a week and burning out, she’s now found success as a Launch Strategist to online business owners.
Now living in South East Asia, she says, “I’m discovering who I am and what I like. I’m working a little bit less. I actually have some hobbies. I’m recovering amazingly from adrenal fatigue. And, most importantly, I’m happier.”
3) The desire to pursue one’s life’s work and leave a legacy.
Tamika Montgomery-Smith has always known that God had something bigger for her at each stage in her life. So when the bug of entrepreneurship bit, she got the revelation that this was her life’s work from God. As the founder of Mommy A La Carte Family Concierge, she helps working moms take control of their lives by creating synergy between family, work, and Self Awareness.
But the opportunity to pursue entrepreneurship has so many implications other than being able to provide for her family on her own terms. Her main purpose is to leave a legacy for her son, and when she says legacy, she is not simply referring to monetary and tangible possessions. “I am more committed to leaving a legacy or hard-work, creativity, risk-taking, and independence,” she says.
4) The quest to discover one’s own voice.
In the time of #metoo and the #timesup movement, women have bonded over a new-found confidence and love for speaking up. But speaking up isn’t just about gender injustice.
For most of her life, Kat Kuan followed what the traditional markers of success were in society (a good college, a good job, etc. But she discovered that she was silencing her inner voice which wanted to play, explore the world, and be artistic. After embarking on lots of soul searching which included therapy, retreats, having a new boyfriend, and even leaving her job, she is slowly finding her voice.
As a result of this, she wants to help other kids do the same by creating children’s books that expose kids to life lessons early on. Her new book, Use Your Voice, has ways for kids to use their voice to say “hi”, “say your name,” “say your favorite color,” all the way to how to say what they want, don’t want, and how they feel.
5) The key to a rich future lies in breaking free from a traumatic past.
It is no secret that Mothers’ day can trigger strong feelings of hurt, rage, rejection, and PTSD in most women. This is why one woman has dedicated her life to breaking other women free from their mental prisons.
As a survivor of incest, abuse, depression, self-hate, suicide, Belkis Clarke-Mitcham helps other survivors unwind from the tentacles of their experience to find value and purpose beyond the trauma. Through motivational speaking and spiritual life teaching, Belkis helps women ages 25 and above move past traumatic experiences to let go of their masks and uncover their life’s purpose.
“To launch my business means not just financial stability for my family but seeing them unleash the best in themselves and be genuinely happy and transforming their lives and that of others,” she says.
All in all, Mothers’ day might be a yearly event to you. But for these women and so many others like them, it means so much more. They are chipping away at the steps of inequality women face in our communities and are changing their financial narratives, one client at a time.