Finding Fulfilment in Passion Projects as a Woman Entrepreneur
Growing, evolving, and finding yourself is a normal parts of who we are. Sometimes that process leads to reinventing yourself, which can be both exciting and frightening — and it might also be the inspiration for exploring a new passion project. For entrepreneurs, that passion can also be the spark for a new business venture packed with opportunities and maybe a few hurdles, especially for women.
Reinventing yourself typically isn’t a flip-of-the-switch to reveal the new you. Instead, it’s a journey as you explore and learns to discover what matters, what doesn’t interest you, and what you want to change. It isn’t a sign that what you did before was a failure because the time leading up to finding the new you is part of your education, whether it takes years or decades.
Embracing a new passion project as a woman entrepreneur is a great opportunity to explore what’s important to you. That said, there are potential hurdles along the way for first-time and experienced entrepreneurs alike. Knowing where those roadblocks are making them much easier to avoid and overcome.
Find Your Passion
The “I need to do something different” feeling about your career is a pretty good indication that you do, in fact, need to do something different. Just exactly what that should be, however, may call for some introspection. Knowing you want to be happy is a start, but also requires discovering what will make you feel happy and fulfilled.
Gretchen Rubin, a well-known author and founder of The Happiness Project, knew her career in law wasn’t making her happy and she needed to make a change. Through introspection she realized writing was her passion, leading her to give up a legal career for the uncertainty of a new business venture as an author. That led to a string of best-selling books including “The Happiness Project,” “Better than Before,” and “The Four Tendencies,” along with an online store selling organizational tools, journals, and more.
Without honest introspection, Rubin wouldn’t have been able to find the passion project she needed to reinvent herself as an author, public speaker, and entrepreneur.
Avoid the Procrastination Trap
“I don’t know…” and “I don’t have…” are powerful phrases that can stop your progress and let opportunities slip by. Feeling like you lack experience or don’t have the resources to pursue your passion project makes it easy to procrastinate or even abandon your dream.
Knowledge gaps don’t need to stop you from progressing. Learning through experience often teaches what you might miss in classes, and bringing people on board who have the expertise you lack rounds out your knowledge pool and helps set the stage for solid leadership.
Since there’s always more to learn, it’s good to have additional resources like mentors and support groups available. Unfortunately, the male-focused business world creates unique challenges for women thanks to social expectations to be caregivers, stereotypes that they aren’t leaders, and other gender bias issues. Mentors who appreciate the issues women entrepreneurs face aren’t always as easy to find, too.
Despite the uneven playing field, resources for women entrepreneurs are growing. Ellevate, for example, built a community for professional women with networking and learning events. The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women program offers leadership, marketing, and sales business courses, along with mentoring and networking opportunities, and financing for women-owned businesses.
Overcoming the “I don’t have” issue often means money. Investors for women-owned businesses still trail behind their male-owned counterparts. That doesn’t, however, mean funding options aren’t available. Along with Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women program, Portfolio, Pepsi, and Toyota are excellent examples of companies investing in women entrepreneurs.
You can learn more about gender bias, networking, and mentoring options, as well as funding options in our 4 Common Challenges Women Entrepreneurs Face as They Age blog post.
Get Over the Fear of Failure
While fear of failure is real and valid, it doesn’t need to be a reason to give up on your passion project and reinvent yourself. The idea that your current career or business is already going well can be an alluring idea, and fear of business failure is higher for women compared to men, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2021/2022 Women’s Entrepreneurship Report. That concern leads to risk-based resistance, which can have a negative impact on confidence.
Stereotypes casting women as ill-suited for leadership roles heighten the problem, making women entrepreneurs more sensitive to the notion that a business failure equates to not being good enough. Overcoming generations of the men-first business attitude takes time, and while we’re making progress, the finish line is still somewhere in the future. Instead of focusing on failure, identify the risks and craft a strategy to deal with them.
- Define Your Business Goal: Do you want to change the world, or make a dent in the universe? Are you filling a need no one else is addressing? Knowing your end goal makes it easier to measure your success and stay focused.
- Build a Strong Business Plan: A solid business plan is like a compass guiding your company to your goal. Women-led businesses tend to face more scrutiny when seeking funding, and a strong and detailed business plan helps to successfully navigate those concerns.
- Use Your Support Network: There’s a good chance whatever obstacles you encounter have come up at some point for someone else. The people in your support network can offer guidance from experience, or they know someone who can.
- Don’t Lose Sight of Your Passion: Once you commit, don’t lose sight of what inspired your desire to reinvent yourself through your passion project. If you lose that, the fulfillment from seeing your business grow and succeed will likely be lost, too.
Be the Mother of Your Own Reinvention
Transitioning from who you are to who you want to be as a woman entrepreneur is an opportunity to pursue happiness and satisfaction that otherwise might be missing from your life. Whether it’s breaking out of an unfulfilling career or starting a new life chapter, our passion projects can be the catalyst to make that change. While there may be challenges along the way, the payoff can be a new and successful business and a sense of fulfillment that wasn’t there before.