There’s a bit of a start-up scandal: when a startup accelerator, FounderFuel launched, they forgot to invite the girls. This caused Shannon Smith to ask, “How do we fix the gender imbalance in Start-ups?”
One of my favorite answer to this question comes from Jens Wuerfel, who said “Women – start startups!”
This is the clearest-cut, most direct way to even out the imbalance.
Keep in mind there’s a reason why women aren’t tripping over themselves starting start-ups. It is not for our lack of will or desire or even sheer ambition.
We’ve seen what happens to our gender counterparts in these start-ups.
We looked at ourselves and asked, “Do we really want to live that kind of a life? Keep in mind we may possibly become multi millionaires and even billionaires.”
For most, our answer is, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
We realize that we can potentially have a profound impact on the world with our start-ups. Don’t think for a second that we are not attracted to the ideal of leaving a long-lasting imprint in society and even in popular culture or human consciousness with our ventures.
We see it. We know what’s at stake. We become intoxicated by the same desires that our gender counterparts get drunk on.
But we women don’t need to “get knee deep into it” to see what goes on at these start-ups.
Want proof? How about this from Quora:
Is it possible to build a successful startup from the ground up and have a successful marriage?
or this: Is it possible to reach the top of your field and have a successful family life? [note that I voted up the only answer that I believe tells the truth - NO. And I take absolutely no satisfaction or happiness for this truth, but the truth doesn't care how I feel about it.]
However, where our blind spots have been, is that we assumed that the way current start-ups are founded and run (meaning: kiss your family farewell for the next few months/years and laugh hysterically at the notion of the “work-life balance”) — is the only way that start-ups can be founded and run.
Hence, once women start starting up companies and run these differently, perhaps they can then set a new tone and culture for these ventures. But only when we:
- have the courage to create a new culture (don’t think for a second that we women can’t also be nasty micromanaging bosses who force employees to have no life. I’ve met some of those.)
- have the acumen to make this culture sustainable (a.k.a. turn a profit, win market leadership, get swallowed up by a larger corporate mothership, or get IPO’ed)
Keep in mind also that women are heading up plenty of start-ups, only most of them create the kind I’ve been creating – microbusinesses that often only have 1 or 2 persons at the helm (including the female founder).
We do this not because we can’t, or don’t want to found start-ups of the popular VC-vying kind.
We do this because we are operating on a different definition of success, and for most of us, “having solid, quality relationships FIRST-HAND with our spouses and children” are #1 on that list. Let’s face it, there is only so much texting and sexting we can do… we still need to physically show up to make quality stick.
Recently we’ve been maintaining close contact with a relative overseas who is in the end stages of pancreatic cancer. This loving aunt had a steady stream of siblings, relatives, friends, children, and family members keeping vigil close to her as she slips in and out of life. The way she’s lived her life and conducted herself is shown in this steady stream of people who love her and who are there for her because they want to.
There are many ways to start a start-up and screw up your life and your relationships and even your morality or personal values. Maybe it’s time to look at a way of starting up businesses that will allow both men and women to live their lives in such a way that at the winding down of their lives, they’ll remain admired and remembered not only by the fans of their start-ups, but also by the people they are closest to in their personal lives.
Because I’ll tell you — in the past when I had to choose between world-dominating ambition and my “inner circle” — my “inner circle” has won every single time, and the odds aren’t going to ever change. (I won’t let it.)