#Mybusinessmyway - a toolkit for female entrepreneurs

This week I launched the toolkit for female entrepreneurs to shape their success #mybusinessmyway!

Here is a copy of the speech I gave at the University of Nottingham.

Also if you want a copy of the toolkit please scroll down to the bottom!

Hello, I’m Debbie Clarke aka debbiedooodah and I support female entrepreneurs create profitable sustainable, joy-filled businesses using the power of social media.

I just want to say how excited and proud I am to be standing here with Isobel, Alex and Sarah presenting this toolkit to you today.

I first contacted Isobel about this project on the 30th November 2015 and what a journey it has been to get to this point almost 3 ½ years later.

At the time I was 2 years into my entrepreneurial journey and running an entirely different business.

I was slightly confused; running a business I thought other people would want and I had almost entirely stripped the ‘meness’ out of it.

My business my way is the toolkit I wished I’d had at that stage.

We want to empower women in business to reclaim the word entrepreneur. To see it for what it is.

A word to describe creativity and taking risks for financial gain, and my partner who’s just started his business would like me to add doing something you believe in and being independent.

And if you are running a business today, that is exactly what you are doing.

We wanted to create something that changed the landscape of what it means to be successful in business.

To encourage women to bring their whole selves into their business and redefine their version of success.

No more to be defined by our wombs as mumpreneurs, or running lifestyle businesses, or to be accused of ‘playing at business’ – something that actually happened to one of my clients whose business is so successful she has chosen to send her children to public school.

We want to create a landscape where we recognise for ourselves that we can and do create profitable sustainable businesses that fit around our often complex lives, and that’s ok. In fact, that’s amazing and we want to celebrate it more.

When we first started creating this toolkit Isobel, following her research wanted to talk about women and legitimacy in business. Now at the time, I found the word legitimate troubling. It conjured up images for me of women and children outside gin palaces in the 1800s.

But as this journey has gone along, I have become more comfortable with this concept of women needing legitimacy in an entrepreneurial setting.

And I want to share with you a discussion I had only yesterday in a business setting with a couple of male business coaches to demonstrate this to you.

I was sharing the story of the toolkit with a couple of male business coaches. And one of them said to me ‘my mother-in-law says she doesn’t understand what all this feminist stuff is about, she says that women have been in control of the world for years’.

I called this out by pointing out that the person who runs Amazon, ASOS, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Etsy and Apple are all men (the anomaly being the CEO of youtube who is a woman and managed to secure her position heavily pregnant so my hat goes off to her). And that it really is men who rule the world, not women.

Subsequently, I’ve thought that perhaps he meant women rule the world from the home, but we all should know by now that 1 woman is murdered by their partner or husband every 3 days in the UK, so that doesn’t make any sense either.

I then pointed out to him that it’s also a fact that I am more likely to be the CEO of a fortune 500 company if my name is John than if I have a vagina – which in case you were wondering I do.

#Mybusinessmyway - A Toolkit for Female Entrepreneurs

And this is where the conversation got interesting. He asked me why I thought there were more male CEO than women? And I started to give sensible reasons. At which point he posited that had I ever considered that it could be because men were better than women in those positions? At which point I walked away.

Now this man may have been joking, but even if he was, it’s this kind of conversation that chips away at our feelings of legitimacy in the workplace, that makes us feel like we have something to prove and undermines our sense of self.

Now through the many conversations, we have had with women while creating this toolkit; I’ve seen women almost recoiling from labelling themselves as entrepreneurs.

As if it can’t be a term to describe what they are doing.
Thinking that it is a term for people who run multiple businesses, apply for high finance, earn 6-figures and employ a sizable team.

This masculine version of what it means to be an entrepreneur service neither men nor women. And we want this toolkit to be a step away from these existing rules of the game.

Now the toolkit itself is split into 3 parts.

Myself, My people and My success.

We want people, women and men who use this toolkit to think about what it means to them to be an entrepreneur, to feel comfortable to bring their whole selves into their businesses by developing their story, focusing on their achievements and by creating strong solid values with which to lay the foundations on their business.

My people is a section to support women to realise that a business is not built in isolation.

That you need support from networks, collaborators, bank managers, clients and many more people to be successful. And we talk about how to present your business and plan for any audiences you may encounter.

And then finally, the last section, my success.

This section hopes to support female entrepreneurs define their own version of success, take a look at what their business needs are and then map out those all-important visions and goals that help us to create an independent successful business.

We hope to create a bigger conversation about the traditionally female traits that we bring to the business world and how accessing these, things like community over competition and openness in the workplace can benefit us all.

We asked you here today to have this conversation with us and hope that you will share this toolkit with others, please help us to spread the word and don’t forget to use the hashtag #mybusinessmyway.

We really hope that this toolkit helps other women feel more at ease in the entrepreneurial landscape, bringing her whole self to her business and viewing herself as a legitimate entrepreneur.