I previously wrote a piece for Equitas titled “Fake it ‘till you make it”. The idea was something that had sat at the back of my mind reminding me to be as authentic in my new business endeavor as possible. Essentially the article aimed to disregard the age old saying of “fake it till you make it”. What I didn’t realise is that it would become a very important aspect not just for our work with our clients but furthermore, as we found our feet in the business world.
As the founder of a new business, Siúl Liom Equine Learning Centre, I have been attending several business events across the country to connect with others, learn as much as I can and share what we can along the way.
My observations from these events shone a light on how seldom people show the reality of starting a business. We were sold “the dream” at some events, more times than I was comfortable with.
Where is the entrepreneur that talks about the blood, sweat and tears that one pours into their business just to get it open?
What about the late nights and early mornings, even the sleepless nights to make it a success?
This start-up process has been incredibly exciting, wonderful, interesting and in the same breath it has been incredibly daunting, scary, frustrating and so much more! I know I am not alone in this as a new business owner.
Let’s look at the facts...
Forbes magazine stated that ‘ only half of small businesses survive past the five-year mark, ranging from 45.4% to 51% of businesses failing in the first 30 months’. If I am honest my research for this piece required quite a few breaks to process some of the stats. They certainly are not for the faint hearted!
This is even before we look at the percentage of female entrepreneurs in that space.
The reality is that ‘only 14.8% of start-up founders are female’, according to Forbes magazine.
The World economic forum stated that ‘Women entrepreneurship is growing around the world, but obstacles remain and men still outnumber women 3-1 when it comes to business ownership’.
I do not write this to scare or deter my fellow potential entrepreneurs. I write today to begin to show the good, the bad and the ugly of starting a business.
I love my business, I am building my “dream”, but it has been, and continues to be, a nerve wrecking and stressful time. (That’s even too mild, but I am trying not to use expletives so bare with me!). I’ve yet to be given a handbook or step by step on what to do for our individual business which provides bespoke equine assisted learning activities but I do know that I will be surrounding myself with authentic entrepreneurs and leaders as we find our feet.
Brené Brown defines authenticity as ‘a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real.’
The people that choose to show up every day and be real or attempt to, those are the people I will be surrounding myself with in both business and life. The Equitas community are the perfect example of this.
So, what can we do as a community?
I see authenticity playing a major factor as we move forward. Being authentic is at best uncomfortable, especially in the beginning. But when we are authentic, sharing our true experiences, we can support each other to learn and grow from those experiences. Take it from someone who is still unlearning at least 20 years of being inauthentic and knowing no better! I can now see the impact of authenticity, not only for myself but for others.
If new entrepreneurs cannot see the hard work and dedication required ahead, or some of the obstacles they are bound to face, are we not setting them up to fail?
With males accounting for 85.2% of the start up founders, I also see an important role for men in this space too. If men account for the majority in the business world, then we need to see our male counterparts supporting us in our endeavours. Many of us are fortunate to have both male and female support in our lives whether it is partners, family, friends or colleagues.
We need to see this movement not only empowering women to support one another and empowering change together, but we also need to see the men in our lives addressing some of these issues right alongside us.
So Equitas, what are we going to do about it all? As outlined today, I have some thoughts on this, but equally would love to hear yours, similar or otherwise.
How can we show the good, the bad and the ugly - not only in our businesses but in our everyday lives, so that we can continue to wholeheartedly and authentically, Empower Change, Together?!