A couple of weeks ago I was invited to speak on a panel as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week – hosted by Xero and focusing on women in business. I sat alongside Makaia Carr, public figure and Founder of Motivate Me NZ; Bridget Coates, seasoned investor and Co-Founder of Kura; and Simeon Burnett, CEO and Co-Founder of Snowball Effect. Hosted by Xero’s Country Manager, Craig Hudson, we spoke candidly and openly about the ups and downs of running our respective businesses, finding balance while living and breathing a new business and the importance of support in an entrepreneurial space.
Simeon Burnett, Makaia Carr, Bridget Coates and myself
All four of us on the panel agreed cohesively (backed by some strong murmurs of agreeance from the crowd) about the importance of work-life balance – something I’ve struggled with and need to focus on this coming year. We also talked about surrounding yourself with a village, and how lucky we are in New Zealand to have incredible networks that celebrate and support small business owners – you never know when a conversation is going to lead – the power of that Kiwi one degree of separation!
Makaia Carr & Craig Hudson
As a woman in business in New Zealand, I feel that there are plenty of female-focussed networking groups that are playing a critical role in supporting and nurturing women entrepreneurs, and for this I applaud them. But, I ask you this: why are we, as women, the first to isolate ourselves as a group? Can you imagine the uproar if there were “men in business” support nights and networking events? Why, we’d be seeing red! Don’t get me wrong: I’m a proud female, through and through. But, at the end of the day, are we not just people in business? Why the need to categorise ourselves as men and women? Can we not support each other? The gender pay gap issue is something I back from an equality perspective; but on the flipside, plenty of my female friends out-rank their partners’ salaries or are “higher” on the career ladder. And in such couplings, they’re both happy! By isolating ourselves as the minority, we’re creating more noise than action, and wouldn’t we be better to remove the labels and just be humans in business, together?
Post-panel, I was discussing this topic with Makaia and a couple of other woman bosses who I know and respect. One thing we all agreed on: as women, we bring so much emotion into our respective businesses – we wear out hearts on our sleeves, we bear every criticism to the point where we forget to stop and pat ourselves on the back when we do something good, and we are so busy comparing ourselves to males that we forget why we’re entrepreneurs in the first place… Because we’ve already backed ourselves!
So ladies (and gentlemen), my advice is this: back yourself, back others around you and let’s empower each other to take risks, push ourselves further than before and continue chasing dreams. Bring on December, the silly season and 2018!