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May 11, 201710:32 AMOpen Mic

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Lean out: 5 questions every female entrepreneur should ask

Do you feel stalled in your career? Do you feel underpaid, overworked, and without flexibility and autonomy over your time? If the answers are yes, then it may be time for you to “lean out.” Adding to that, if you have a personal passion that you want to turn into your own entrepreneurial venture, then for sure it is time for you to lean out.

While entrepreneurship may not be for everyone, there are many reasons why it may be the best thing for you. Some women seek independent work to have more time with family and to achieve a better, more fulfilling work-life balance. A study released by the National Association of Women Business Owners reveals that 65% of the women surveyed desire more flexibility and control over their time. While the biggest reason women gave for independent work was that they wanted to do something they were passionate about (92%), it was also followed closely by the ability to be in charge of one’s decisions and the potential for higher earning power.

Women also feel the draw to explore a new professional journey when they cite “office politics” as a catalyst for leaving their corporate jobs to start new businesses. A study from The Guardian Life Index revealed that many women view corporations today as being fundamentally flawed and limiting in their value structures. And with the cost of starting a business at an all-time low, women are saying “no thank you” to spending years climbing and clawing their way up the corporate ladder, dealing with corporate politics, and working long days without feeling the overall fulfillment they crave.

The corporate world does not always fully recognize women’s contributions or does not create a hospitable climate for women to succeed at the highest levels — whether it’s gender discrimination, family-unfriendly policies that punish women who choose to take time off to care for children, or just an overall culture that only rewards those who “lean in.” When faced with this type of a corporate employment environment, being independent and starting your own business, a step toward your “lean out” becomes an important life goal.

As you consider joining the ranks of the already 10 million female-owned businesses in the U.S., there are five key questions you should ask yourself as you decide if it’s your time to lean out:

  • Are you determined? Let’s say you have an idea but everyone is telling you it can’t be done. What are you going to do about this situation? This experience might be motivation enough for you to try to one-up the naysayers.
  • Do you want to leave a legacy? You aspire to live a bigger life, to make an impact, to make your presence known. As they say, if you’re not building your own dream, you’re building someone else’s.
  • Do you want to control your time? Maybe you’re most productive from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m., or perhaps you’re a night owl. Maybe you want to be at your daughter’s soccer practice at 3 p.m. or your son’s acting class at 4 p.m. Instead of being told when to work and when to take breaks or a vacation, you could finally determine your schedule.
  • Do you mind getting your hands dirty? You’ll have to do plenty of grunt work as a new business owner. It’s not always enjoyable but you find it rewarding to see the fruits of your labor.
  • Are you a born leader? Having a great idea is one thing. Being able to communicate that idea and convince others to jump on board is another. If you have the leadership skills to round up the troops and motivate them, consider starting your own venture.

The entrepreneurial journey is not an easy one. It requires determination, time, hard work, and leadership. But if you said yes to the above questions, it’s your time to lean out and turn your dreams into reality!

Felena Hanson is the founder of Hera Hub, a spa-inspired shared workspace and community for female entrepreneurs and author of Flight Club — Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business, which provides tools and resources to women in every stage of launching their business. For more information, please visit www.herahub.com and connect with Felena on Twitter, @felenahanson.

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