Why Women Should Strive To Connect & Collaborate More Often

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First Thing’s First...

Women make GREAT entrepreneurs. This is not just a statement being made to push a feminist agenda or to toot our horns needlessly because I happen to be one. Quite frankly, the research confirms it. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation states that among other things:

  • Women entrepreneurs have a more nuanced view of risk, identifying more strongly than men as financial risk takers;
  • We display greater ambitions to become serial entrepreneurs than our male counterparts; and more broadly,
  • An increase in the number of women in business leadership positions is correlated with increased business returns and payout ratios.

Nevertheless, women remain underrepresented among entrepreneurs and are half as likely as men to start a business. One of the reasons suggested is the lack of mentorship; a reason that is certainly open to interpretation. I dare not say that there aren’t enough women entrepreneurs out there, as the National Association of Women Business Owners states that as of 2015, there were 9.4 million firms that were owned by women, with that number rapidly climbing each year.

So what is it? The lack of connections and collaborations, or an overall disinterest in helping other women come up to pursue her dreams perhaps? Say it ain’t so…

Unfortunately, most likely, it may be. This is a trend that needs to change, pronto. In the pursuit of our goals and dreams, we can’t forget to reach back and pull another sister up with us. Better even, why not pull each other up while we’re both climbing? This is accomplished by intentionally and strategically creating a network of women-owned product manufacturers and service providers with whom to partner or refer. Connecting and collaborating with other women is critically important to the growth and sustainability of women-owned businesses as a whole.


In the pursuit of our goals and dreams, we can’t forget to reach back and pull another sister up with us.


Here are a few reasons why:

Society Says We Can't-Do It

I recently read an article in which Gene Simmons, front man of legendary rock band KISS, said of women balancing career and family, “Get over your biological urges. It’s natural to want to have kids, but, sorry, you can’t have it both ways. You have to commit to either career or family.” Sure enough, it is challenging for a woman to balance a career, a family, and your own social life, not to mention building a business from the ground up. However, to say that it can’t be done, or a woman must choose between being a wife and mother, or a businesswoman is absurd.

Yet, this idea is still fairly prevalent in today’s society.

Every day, women encounter a climate that does not support the notion that she can be a wife, mother and pursue a career. Yet, even if we do, we are bombarded with meaningless and fallacious banter.  In our careers, we can’t be “too bossy” or “too emotional.” Professional women are those “who cannot keep a man,” and so is now sadly married to her career.

I mean, what REAL woman doesn’t want a loving husband and children after all? Isn’t that our entire purpose in life?  On the flipside, when choosing family over career, we are weak, pathetic, even worse, we are applauded for accepting the natural order of things, “our role” and allowing the man to “be the man” by bringing home the bacon while she happily cares for the children and the home. Our choice is never ours, and if we make one, no matter which one it is, it is the wrong one.

Seriously?? Sure, we get up and put on our Superwoman cape and face the world as best as we can, but it can be a daunting task day in and day out, with this seemingly endless barrage of “you can’t,” or, “it’s a problem if you do.” Ladies, it’s tough enough out here being Superwoman, and there are certainly enough people who say we can’t, WE NEED EACH OTHER! Moreover, who knows more about our struggles than us?


Ladies, it’s tough enough out here being Superwoman, and there are certainly enough people who say we can’t, WE NEED EACH OTHER! Moreover, who knows more about our struggles than us?


To me, there is a sense of togetherness as well as a reminder that “having it all” can happen if you work for it,” states Elisha McGhee, owner of Dallas based business, Page Eleven Paper Goods. “They know the struggles you’ve faced and the walls that had to be broken, and therefore we are able to hold one another accountable. In moments of doubt, it is an affirmation you that you are unstoppable and nothing is impossible. It is like an unspoken sisterhood that allows for mistakes but thrives on growth and unlimited opportunities.”

There’s Only Room for One Cowgirl in This Town

Let our culture tell it, there can only be one woman leader in each industry. One lead female actress, one successful woman mogul, one top businesswoman, one female presidential candidate one, one, one. Therefore, why help another woman who is a threat to your spot? There are already too many event planners out there, so many writers, so many make artists and creators, and way too many brand consultants. If there is only room for one head honcho, then it’s going to be me!

Contrary to this belief, ladies, there’s more than enough revenue and success out here for all of us, and partnering with other women only stands to strengthen our products and service offerings. It allows for growth by revolutionizing and possibly even expanding what you already offer. Collaboration inspires innovation, reduces unnecessary risk, and ultimately amplifies success for all involved. We all have something special to offer our customers or clients, don’t threaten your upward mobility with the fear of being in the shadows of others. Walk proudly into the sun with your sister by your side!


Contrary to this belief, ladies, there’s more than enough revenue and success out here for all of us, and partnering with other women only stands to strengthen our products and service offerings.


"Sometimes you need a hand, sometimes you lend yours, but it’s always an opportunity to grow and learn,” says Cecilia Austin, owner of Houston based media firm, Yellow Bandit Media.  “As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned to cultivate a network of like-minded women that in turn motivates me in my own business. From collaborations to mentorships, never be afraid to draw strength or inspiration from others. Sometimes it’s that very support that keeps you going.”

It’s true, and as cliché and corny as it may sound, we stand to accomplish more when we band together. In fact, Forbes.com states that in today’s economy collaboration is no longer a luxury, but a requirement. In this ever-evolving and expanding marketplace, and as our businesses and various ventures transcend time zones and space, meaningful and support based collaboration is indeed the glue to keep us together. Don’t allow this crazy society to dictate to us what we know to be true; that is, there’s enough out here for all of us cowgirls to wrangle in!

2018: The Year of the Woman

Having only had my business up and running for about two years now, the only thing that’s more exciting to me than closing a deal, or completing a task on behalf of a client is watching other women do the same.  

Most recently, I put a twist on a traditional raffle drawing at an event I hosted. I reached out to every woman-owned business I knew, and asked for a discounted or free service or product and offered them to the winners.  I did so with the intention of drawing more attention to their businesses, not only for those whose names were drawn but to the whole audience. So in addition to offering the yummy food made by a woman-owned catering business, Zenful Eats Catering, being styled by Her Guiltless Garb, or having my face made beautifully by Vanessa Copper Artistry, (see what I did there?) I used a segment of the event to shine spotlights on these businesses, and several others that are fearlessly owned and ran by women.

That to me was perhaps more thrilling than the social event itself!


The notion that women cannot work together, or shouldn’t work together for whatever reason must end, and that ending must start with us.


The notion that women cannot work together, or shouldn’t work together for whatever reason must end, and that ending must start with us. Most importantly, debunk through the experience all of those theories as to why it wouldn’t work. You CAN be a family woman and business owner, you CAN be a success and a leader in your industry, regardless of how many other women are doing the same, we CAN connect and collaborate without envy, jealousy or other stereotypical and nonsensical emotions that we are constantly blamed for expressing.

We are all in this together, and we can all get to the top. The only competition we must commit ourselves to, is being better than our former selves.  So let’s make a pact, sis. When planning your goals, let’s make one of them to consciously connect with another woman-owned business. Let’s make 2018 the year of the woman.

We can do it if we all work together.


 

written by candace okin

Candace is the co-owner of KC Creatives, a business design and events company based in Houston, Texas. Having been in business since late 2015, KC Creatives boasts unique services to help create and revitalize businesses, as well as corporate and social events. Visit her website.

 
Lifestyle, BusinessAlisha Byrd