Last year, the National Association of Women Business Owners recorded approximately 9 million businesses across the country that are run by women. These companies staff about 8 million employees and account for about $1.4 trillion in sales for just that year alone. But, according to one female entrepreneur, that number could be even bigger were it not for a couple persistent misconceptions about how women can (or can't) break into the world of business ownership.
Deborah Sweeney, the owner of a small business that helps new entrepreneurs work through the necessary paperwork for launching their own small businesses, tells TIME that over the past five years, she has seen her clientele jump from just 10 percent of women to 25 percent. While the economy's recovery and greater availability of small business loans has helped to grow this number, Sweeney highlights a number of myths that, while not true, are believed by enough women to keep this number lower than it has to be:
- It's impossible for female entrepreneurs to succeed: As Sweeney points out, despite the wider progress made toward gender equality, "comically sexist" attitudes about a woman's capacity for opening and running her own business continue to linger. These can run the gamut from thinking women run smaller operations out of their garage that focus on "making beaded necklaces or making nursing products for children" to the idea that they need to co-run their companies with their husbands. On the contrary, Sweeney runs her business entirely on her own, making about $9 million in revenue every year — considerably more than the "garage operation" stereotype would indicate.
- Owning your own business is more time-consuming than working for someone else's: "Most people assume running your own business means working outrageously long hours. For female entrepreneurs, that has typically meant added pressure, given the traditional, if outdated, roles they're often expected to play in the home," the source writes. "But outrageous hours are another misconception, Sweeney says. She quit a corporate job six years ago to become an entrepreneurs and says it 'actually presents a fabulous opportunity' for achieving a better work-life balance."
- Women don't have the same entrepreneurial drive as men: "Women have a difficult time conceptualizing for themselves what entrepreneurship is about," Sweeney tells TIME, because "they don't have enough role models" for what entrepreneurship should look like. Many of the women Sweeney does business with are first-timers, whereas many of the men she works with are serial entrepreneurs.
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