When Entrepreneurship is Necessary by Anya Smith

January 30, 2023
Anya is an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving with the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Leadership Lab (WELL) in Missoula, Montana

“Men start businesses because they have an idea or an opportunity, women start businesses because they have to.” 

This (or something close) was said at the first full staff meeting I attended for the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Leadership Lab. It’s a phrase that has stuck with me ever since. I’ve lived in Montana most of my life, and based on my experience, it can be difficult to find jobs here that allow a person to make a livable wage. This is compounded by the fact that women tend to be the primary caretakers in their household, and often the available jobs do not offer enough flexibility for them to comfortably do this. While the discussion of unequal labor is a whole topic unto itself, I think it’s interesting to note that the current design of the workforce is not conducive to women working in competitive, high paying positions. 

We’ve all heard the stereotype of the woman who doesn’t get the promotion because she has children. According to the New York Times, some women even took the opportunities afforded by remote work to hide pregnancies during the COVID 19 pandemic. In some cases, this was done in order to avoid the judgment that comes along becoming a mother. In my opinion, these examples serve as evidence that there is still a bias against women in the workforce, despite the fact that 46.6% of the United States workforce is female. 

So what if, instead of trying to fit into a system that doesn’t meet their needs, women could design something new that does? That’s where entrepreneurship comes in. By starting and running a business, women are afforded a few important opportunities. First of all, they are able to design their schedules in a way that suits their needs and allows for a better work life balance. They can often work remotely when possible, and create company policies that support their own needs. More importantly though, running a business gives women the opportunity to have high powered careers that would otherwise be difficult to achieve due to inherent bias against women and mothers. 

Supporting women entrepreneurs is important because it allows women to thrive and achieve financial independence. This creates happier, healthier individuals who are able to live holistic and satisfying lives. These women are then in a better position to support the success of their children or mentees, leading to an even larger effect within the community. When women thrive, we all thrive.