I've heard one too many female entrepreneurs preface a challenge they've had with the statement "maybe it's just because I'm a woman but I find it hard to"...(you can fill in the blank): ask for what I want; settle for something less than perfect; not to try to do it all myself. These statements make me cringe. I'm not a fan of sweeping gender generalizations and I'm certainly not keen on women attributing their challenges (challenges that many people experience by the way) to the fact that they are female. Women entrepreneurs get enough flak for not being more like men without us jumping on the bandwagon ourselves.
I can't say whether any of the oft-recited gender stereotypes are true ("scientific" studies always seem to be contradictory in their findings), but let's pretend for a moment that they are. Then let's pretend that these differences aren't deficits (gasp) and instead are assets. What if gender differences made women even better business owners? It's not hard to make a compelling case.
Let's take a stab at it. Here are 10 reasons why women are better entrepreneurs:
1. Women are better connectors.
A stronger network means they will be better resourced throughout the life of the venture. By leveraging their connections, they will have to reinvent the wheel less and learn fewer lessons the hard way.
2. Women are better at multitasking.
They can work towards multiple priorities and balance multiple roles simultaneously. They won't shy away from a full plate and will be equipped to handle the multifaceted job of entrepreneur.
3. Women are perfectionists.
They have high standards and won't settle for mediocre efforts or results. The business will save money and time because haphazard mistakes and sloppy work will be avoided in the first place.
4. Women take others into consideration.
They build businesses that deliver value for multiple stakeholders - customers, employees, investors, and founders. They aren't out for purely their own gain and their "put others' first" attitude will net tremendous loyalty for the business in the long run.
5. Women think success comes from hard work not just from being "awesome."
They are willing to do what it takes to hit the mark and they don't let their egos get in the way. Failures, which are inevitable, spark a redoubling of efforts, not a crisis of self-worth.
6. Women share the credit.
They build companies where employees feel valued for their contributions and input.
7. Women second guess themselves.
They consult others about important decisions to make sure they aren't overlooking something. They won't be afraid to change course if new information or learning is brought to light.
8. Women don't take as many risks.
This means that the ones they do take are more calculated and well thought out. They won't over-extend the company by chasing bright shiny objects or the latest hottest idea.
9. Women don't fiercely negotiate for the best they can get.
They understand that the price paid or received isn't the whole story. They think about value more broadly and understand the price that relationships and the process requires.
10. Women value their life outside of work.
Their commitment to their company is only enhanced by having a full life outside of work. They know that friends and families are an important part of overall satisfaction and that the costs of burnout are significant for both themselves and the company.
Certainly this isn't true of all women. All of it may not even be true for one woman. But any of it could be just as true as the current deficit model that many of us subscribe too. Further consideration of our assumptions is warranted when we assume that any differences, if true, are instant liabilities - qualities to apologize and compensate for. So, the next time you hear a woman apologize for being a woman, offer one of these alternate interpretations as a reason for her success.
Adelaide Lancaster is an entrepreneur, speaker and co-author of The Big Enough Company: Creating a business that works for you (Portfolio/Penguin). She is also the co-founder of In Good Company Workplaces, a first-of-its-kind community, learning center and co-working space for women entrepreneurs in New York City. She is a writes a blog for Forbes.com and is a contributor to The Daily Muse. She lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband and daughter.