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What Girls Need to Hear to Become Entrepreneurs

bracelets“Excuse me Miss!” a little girls’ voice rang out to me from across the street. “Would you like to buy a bracelet?”

Of course I did.

That’s when I met Grace, a be-speckled 10 year-old who was selling bracelets made out of color loops. (Remember hot loops? Color loops are those, but smaller and made of plastic). She offered me a variety of bracelets, all for $1. I asked if she could create a custom look, and she said yes, “in 5 minutes or less.”

Grace and I got to talking. She had a great summer so far, her best day being $12 in sales.

“That’s the day I had employees,” she confided. I asked her if she paid them. “Of course,” she said, “they make $1 a shift.”

I asked her why she sold bracelets instead of lemonade like the other kids in the neighborhood.

“I want to provide something valuable…something personal,” she said.

She went on to tell me that her mom was also a business owner, hosting yoga for kids classes in a nearby studio. When her mother came off the porch to chat with us, she confirmed.

“I’m teaching her everything I can,” her mom said, “I want her to know that she is able to do anything.”

Grace told me that no matter what she grew up to be, she would want to be a self-starter, just like her mom.

I was charmed and of course, bought 2 bracelets.

I have been fortunate to grow up in a similar scenario. My mother is a creative and a woman of many trades, having owned and operated successful hair styling, sewing and jewelry businesses. Seeing her succeed while making time for her family wasn’t something that was a glass-ceiling breaking event, it just was what we 5 kids were used to. Now, as a business woman myself, I realize that her hard work and hustle was an excellent example of what I strive to be.

With dismal statistics of women in seats of power (4.8% for CEO’s in Fortune 500 Companies) our ladies of status in the business and political world are fighting to get women into the boardrooms, into the business suits, and into the corner office. In this battle to be a part of the boys club, we’ve got to realize that women have staked a claim in the wild west of e-commerce and trade. 8.6 million women in the US own small businesses, and as arguments are continually built up for or against working moms, that number will only explode. Even though the start-up world is stacked with boys with toys in the tech world, women are coming in strong, with their own versions of what works for them, be it the creation of an app or the development of a product that makes lives more beautiful.

They do this on their own time, in their own space, because they’ve made room for it themselves.

Grace’s and my mom were doing what was natural to them, protecting their brood and training them for the big bad world outside the safe walls of our homes, and letting their daughters create the space for themselves. They were showing us that it’s possible to balance business and babies and still be rebels against the corporate world. They showed us that they could do it, and told us that we could too.

Young girls need to hear that the world is not blocked off to them just because the corporate world is too rigid for their ideas. They need to hear that their ideas are valid, and that they can make their impact on the world in the way that they are naturally able to do so.

Girls like Grace are the next big thing. There is already space in the world for them, right where they are.

Sources:

Statistics for women CEO’s from http://www.catalyst.org/

Small Businesses: American Express OPEN’s 2013 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report: A Summary of Important Trends, 1997-2013

As originally posted on LinkedIn on August 18th 2014.

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