Statistics show that women around the world are taking entrepreneurship by storm, with female entrepreneurs launching significantly more businesses, worldwide than their male counterparts. However, most women-owned businesses (WOB) are still limited to traditionally feminine industries — healthcare, social services, and administrative support. This leaves many profitable industries such as construction, transport and logistics, and wholesale trade largely devoid of women entrepreneurs.
I was born incredibly shy, and with a natural desire to not speak up, not stand out, and not make waves. Despite this, I was lucky to be raised in an Indian household where being a girl was not used as a reason to limit my potential. My parents encouraged me to pursue all my dreams — I succeeded at athletics, adventure sport and aeronautical gliding. However, I know firsthand that many women have bought into a point of view that they can’t or shouldn’t do something simply because they are ‘a girl’. It’s never easy to break the patterns of what has come before. But, throughout my life, I have learned the value of boldness, adventure and creating limitless opportunity. I have moved beyond my shyness to adopt a refreshingly rebellious view on WOB and what we are truly capable of. Importantly, I know that if I can have the courage to embolden myself in male-dominated environments, you can too.
Yes! Ask For What You Want!
In my view, one of the most destructive concepts we adopt as women is that we are not entitled to demand what we truly want. Traditionally, girls are encouraged to be sweet, accommodating and undemanding. Women like me grow up with the idea that it’s not acceptable to inconvenience other people in order to fulfill our personal needs. However, when I confronted this idea in my own life, I was surprised at how easy it was to break the mold. When my children were young, for instance, my husband was traveling almost constantly and I decided to become a traditional stay-at-home mother. However, I had always wanted to be a pilot and, before long, the yearning became unbearable. One day, I found my strength and put all my trust in my gut instinct. Importantly, I started demanding that my dream is fulfilled. Leaving my two darling children with their grandparents and extended family, I moved to Florida for nine months where I successfully completed a commercial pilots’ license course. It is incredible how my family stepped up to support me — even those whom I never expected to be on my side. I demanded to be heard and it’s like life supported me.
Living Without Limits
Since then, I have been committed to living without limits. I have boldly pursued a multitude of careers and interests including interior and furniture design, fine art, aeronautics, and spiritual practice. In each case, I have followed my heart’s desire without judging whether it would be deemed acceptable, proper or suitable. I have liberated myself from social expectation. For women with a non-traditional business idea or desire, I offer the following advice:
1. Jump off a cliff, every day.
Every morning, visualize yourself jumping off a cliff; in your mind’s eye, take yourself to the edge of the cliff … and leap! This will help get you out of your comfort zone and overcome fear, guilt and unconscious social conditioning.
2. Focus on: What will it take for me to do this?
Don’t worry about where the money will come from or how it will work in with your life. Just be empowered and ask for it to show up.
3. Recognize the opportunities that arise.
Don’t second guess or judge the doors of opportunity that open for you. Accept whatever is showing up at that moment, even if it doesn’t seem logical. Follow your gut instinct.
4. Don’t let anything stop you.
When something feels right, do what is necessary to make it happen. Shake some trees, make some noise and go for it — and expect everything to fall into place for you.
5. Allow yourself to move on when the joy has gone.
Being empowered in your business means giving yourself permission to change your mind when things no longer feel right. Immediately after gaining my commercial pilots’ license, I returned to being a stay-at-home mum, because that’s what I wanted at that time.
Most importantly, I encourage women to acknowledge their true desires, even if they are not what society would expect. If you have trouble following your dreams, ask yourself: Who does this belong to? From whom have I adopted this point of view that I am not able or capable?