Why It Might be Time to "Lean Out"

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By: Felena Hanson

Do you feel stalled in your career? Are you underpaid and overworked? Do you lack the flexibility and autonomy over your own time? If the answers are yes, then it may be time for you to lean out. And, if you have a personal passion that you want to turn into your own entrepreneurial venture, then it is for sure time for you to lean out.

While entrepreneurship may not be for everyone, there are many reasons why it may 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 percent of the women surveyed desire more flexibility and control over their time. The biggest reason (92%) women gave for independent work, however, was that they wanted to do something they were passionate about. This was closely followed by the desire to be in charge of one’s decisions and the potential for higher earning power.

A study from The Guardian Life Index cited in an article in Forbes (“Entrepreneurship is the New Women’s Movement”) states, “Many women view corporations today as being fundamentally flawed and limiting in their value structures…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, nor does not create a hospitable climate for women to succeed at the highest levels – whether it’s gender discrimination, unfair maternity leave policies, or just an overall culture that only rewards those who “lean in.” When faced with this environment, often times being independent and starting your own business, a step towards your “lean out,” becomes an important life goal.

As you contemplate whether or not now is the time to “lean out,” remind yourself that:

1) You are 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.

2) 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.

3) 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, take breaks, or vacation, you could finally determine your schedule.

4) You don’t 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.

5) You’re 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.


Felena Hanson is the founder of Hera Hub, the first international coworking space and business accelerator for female entrepreneurs. She is also the author of “Flight Club - Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business” - currently available on Amazon. For more information visit www.HeraHub.com and www.FlightClubBook.com. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Ellevate Network is a global women’s network: the essential resource for professional women who create, inspire and lead. Together, we #InvestInWomen.

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