Women are still making only 82 cents on average for every dollar a man makes, but inspiring women entrepreneurs are providing good models for how society can increase that number. Though more women have degrees in higher education these days and many work longer hours than ever before, the gender wage gap persists. For now, women who work as employees for those who set their salaries risk lower pay than their male peers.
Entrepreneurship provides a bridge for this wage gap. A lot of progress has been made by pioneering women who have built their own businesses to pay themselves and their employees fairly. In 2019, the number of businesses owned by women had reached 42%, employing about 9.4 million people in total. These women were paving the way for equality and achieving the dream of flexible hours and virtually unlimited income opportunity.
Unfortunately, the pandemic came and took its toll on these women entrepreneurs, particularly those who were set to launch their businesses in 2020. More than 850,000 women had to stop working last September alone, while only 216,000 men had to leave the workforce in the same stretch of time. This is discouraging news, but hope is not yet lost.
There were certainly many women who kept and even grew their businesses during the pandemic, providing a model of hope for those who wish to get back out there as the economy rebuilds. Below, we gathered advice from our Share Your Umbrella podcast, where we interviewed women whose businesses have weathered the storm of COVID-19.
Plan Each Day with Care
When we spoke to Brandi Bridgett about how she kept her business going through the pandemic, she pointed to her careful calendar planning as her secret weapon. “When you become an entrepreneur, you have to build your own schedule and you have to have a daily method of operation. You have to live by your calendar.” We recommend the handy ContentCal to help you manage social media posting and free up your day to focus on other parts of your business.
"When you become an entrepreneur, you have to build your own schedule and you have to have a daily method of operation. You have to live by your calendar."
Maintain a Positive Mindset
When asked how she overcame her biggest business challenges, FFS’ Pahoua Xiong spoke about the importance of intention and the power of focusing on long-term goals:
“The transition is hard because now you’re doing it for yourself. You’re no longer working for someone; you’re building your own business. It takes a mindset shift. I kept telling myself: ‘This is for my kids, for my future, for our community — so we can grow more and be more.’ It was something I had to tell myself every day.”
"The transition is hard because now you’re doing it for yourself. You’re no longer working for someone; you’re building your own business. It takes a mindset shift."
Embrace and Adapt to Change
Many industries that relied on face-to-face interaction faced the difficult task of pivoting to an entirely virtual operation. Many business owners who had previously stayed away from virtual meeting technology like Zoom found themselves needing to learn these tools quickly without much training. But anything is possible — when we spoke to FFS agent Daniela Dubach, she demonstrated just how quickly people can adapt:
“Our industry was 100% face-to-face. I didn’t even know — nor did I want to know — how to run a webinar, because I considered myself a face-to-face person. That’s what I was good at. When COVID hit, I had to make some major adjustments to that attitude. I had to get out of my own way and adapt because otherwise, I would have had to close up shop. I was very nervous for my first few meetings, but I remember how excited I was when I actually closed my first application via Zoom. After that first success, I knew that adapting was possible.”
Entrepreneurs Can Change Our World
These stories are only a small sample of the strategies that can help women entrepreneurs build their businesses. The gender wage gap is a complex web of issues that stem from history, psychology, and social dynamics — it will take many solutions working together to raise the wages of women across the country. But many women are proving it is possible, and entrepreneurship remains a path women can take to raise their wages and be their own boss to achieve financial security.
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