Up to this point I have written about 55 women entrepreneurs. It has truly been an honor to meet so many women who are marking their own territory. Each of their individual stories is inspiring. This week I decided not to write about a specific woman entrepreneur but about women entrepreneurs in general.
From my birds eye view, this has been a year of change for women. When Nancy Hechinger and I put on the Womens Entrepreneur Festival a year ago we did so because we wanted to celebrate women. Celebrating how many women are starting their own companies, making a difference in the world and are influencing the way we live our lives is much more empowering than conversations around topics such as there aren't enough women in a particular field or enough women sitting on public trading boards or enough women running companies. All of that might be true but if one hundred women start a business next week that thrives then there are more women CEO's and more women running companies. The game can be changed. We need to support those women. I am seeing that game change every week.
Positive change is taking place as women are champions and mentors of each other. I see more women creating businesses that give them the independence that they are looking for. Through networking, connections and sheer intelligence they are succeeding in a very different way than they were twenty years ago. We are collaborating with our peers and that is not something we did so easily in the past. We are looking to make changes from outside not from within and that is the only way change will take place.
Women listen, analyze, communicate and perceive things contrary to their male counterparts. The women that are succeeding at being entrepreneurs are focused on success and that success means a lot of different things. Success in their own personal lives as well as their careers, success in being independent and being able to get it all done and particularly success in a work environment that works for them.
2012 is going to be a big year for women. There are a few things that I'd personally like to see happen. I'd like women to stop apologizing and to never utter the word I am sorry for the decisions that they have made in their careers. I'd like women to stop starting their sentences with I think. Just get in there and speak your mind. Truth is women have the ability to do it all. We can decide to go to work, we can decide to stay home, we can decide to work part-time, we can decide to start our own companies, we have so many choices. We need to stop judging each other for the choices each of us have made and instead start applauding each other for who we are. We are all individuals with different sensibilities when it comes to our own priorities, our own sense of style and our own ways of living our individual lives. We are all unique women who bring a tremendous amount to the table.
I am looking forward to the next year as I get the opportunity to talk to more women entrepreneurs who are creating companies, communities and their own identities as role models for every woman regardless of age. All 55 of the women I spoke to this past year ( or so ) have shown all of us that being an entrepreneur is certainly hard work but the upside of owning who you are is empowering on so many levels that we should all think about no matter what career you have chosen, be it an entrepreneur or not, how do you make your career your own. That kind of thinking is the key for more women to have ownership of the career paths that they take.
As Rosie the Riveter, a symbol of womens economic power, said, "We can do it."