LIFESTYLE ENTREPRENEURSHIP – GIVING WOMEN THE BALANCE NEEDED BETWEEN HOME & OFFICE…

They are no longer manning desks in plush offices but are in front of computers located in kitchens, store spaces, living rooms and bedrooms. They work hard but also have time to spend with the kids and take care of family chores. They run successful businesses from home but have had no need to attract venture capital funds or angel investors – their capital requirements are typically small but the businesses they have built are successful and are adequate for their needs ; money in the bank and time on their hands. They are the entrepreneurs of a new kind – the lifestyle entrepreneurs who form a new wave of women who want to run their own businesses and also manage their home fronts at the same time. 

Lisa Griswold is one such woman in Atlanta. Forbes recently cited her as one of the growing breed of lifestyle entrepreneurs. She runs Pixie Vacations, a travel agency that offers Disney destinations. Lisa works from home, is successful and has plenty of time to spend with her daughters and participate in their growing up.

Women like Lisa typify a new breed of women who seem to have a totally new take on entrepreneurship. A totally different view to that held traditionally, mostly by men. These women want entrepreneurship on their own terms,  that of a blend achieved between home and work.  

Enter lifestyle business. From Martha Stewart, the original lifestyle guru who built an empire on the strength of it to Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow whose web site Goop has become a major lifestyle force on the web to reckon with. I recently read that the Trump heiress Ivanka also wants to get on board the lifestyle wagon and was creating her ‘own’ recipes on line. Mega stars aside, lifestyle ventures are relatively easy to start in your own home and has the potential to turn into a financially viable venture.

Typically, a lifestyle business will yield a decent income for the founder and not much beyond that – not many have a focus of going public or growing into a powerhouse. But then again, not many women who start lifestyle ventures want to go there, either. They are comfortable and happy with the level of success that still allows them to earn a decent income and manage their homes and be on hand to participate actively in the growing up of their kids.

Erin Albert , author of Single. Women. Entrepreneurs , Director of the Ribordy Center for Community Practice Pharmacy at the Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is one such woman who started two ventures herself and has spent a lot of time researching entrepreneurial women. Erin believes that women want their lives to fit to the flow of their lives. They want to be there when the kids come home. They need to be home to help with the homework so they may not be able to sit in at meetings round the clock but they can and will get the work done. Even if it is at the kitchen table, once the dishes are cleared. 

More and more women believe that working long hours does not automatically translate into success. The majority of women engaged in entrepreneurship of this kind feel that striking a decent balance between work and home is not only important but also is central to leading successful lives.

According to Erin Albert,  many women entrepreneurs are able to take bigger risks because they are self-funded. They need to hold both sides of the candle so to speak and want to be able to be in control of the growth of the business and their personal lives. Erin says that women entrepreneurs who are successful do not want to build businesses that rule the world or grow into a mega house of success. Their model is not necessarily Apple or Google. Just a successful business that empowers them financially, while fulfilling their dream of building a successful career.

According to statistics in the USA, the growth of women owned firms during the past 16 years is supposed to be 1.5 times higher than the national average. More and more women and entering businesses on a regular basis. And their efforts seem to be paying off.

Nina Hale, CEO and founder of  Nina Hale Inc, a social media and search engine marketing agency in Minneapolis , says that women who are building businesses that reflect their own interests are growing.

Nina prefers to work with local companies so she can reduce travel and find time to spend with her family.  She is committed to a 40 hour week for herself and her staff and when the limit is reached, they pull back. Her model differs from the typical social media and SEO agencies who put in 60 hour work week but she says she is content with her success. Her company is financially sound and turns in a regular profit and is debt free – she does not plan on fuelling growth with risk and big loans.

Lifestyle businesses or not, many women would jump at the opportunity to be able to build a career that allows them to work while spending adequate time with the family. Making money is vital but so is being hands on for the kids. Striking a balance between the two is old and dated as a concept but still valid for women everywhere, not just the ones cited here. And can it be done? Yes it can. 

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