While 75 per cent of entrepreneurs grow up with dynamic role models, 78 per cent of female business owners don’t see anyone of the same gender as them.
When I started my business 16 years ago, I was hard-pressed to find role models who I could align myself with, and whose values and experiences resonated with me. At school, I was consistently told that I would never make it in business and on the day that I failed my business A-level, I was convinced that those words were true.
All around me, success looked like men who were extroverted with money. How could I possibly compete with that as an inexperienced woman? While yes, I had idols like Oprah and Whitney Houston to turn to, their fame and success felt a million miles away from where I was – it all felt like an impossible dream.
Despite that, I realised I had a choice. I was so keen to take the leap into being a business owner, despite what others said, and I could either let the lack of role models around me demotivate me or let it be the push I needed. I chose the latter, and decided to forge my own path, to be a role model for myself, then in turn, others like me.
According to my parents, I’ve had entrepreneurial blood for as long as they can remember. I spent my early secondary school days selling sweets to my classmates for a profit. I thought about this fondly when taking my first steps as a businesswoman and thought, ‘I just need to believe in myself and go for it.’
Eleven-year-old me, her confidence to do something a little different was pretty inspiring as was my ability to push back against the nay-sayers in my teenage years. Let’s not forget about how I got up and dusted myself off when I failed my A-Levels. My resilience, grit, and determination to build something for myself was all of the inspiration I needed to get by. My role model was future me, the woman who would look back and be proud of whatever I achieved.
Now, as a woman in business who has a daughter, the importance, the saying ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ has never been more relevant. I want my daughter to have the same opportunities that my son will have, I want her to be taken as seriously as him and I want her to know that no dream is too big. I hope that by having been a role model for myself, I have been able to create a role model for her. Someone she can look up to for inspiration, but also someone who can show her that being your own champion is no bad thing.
As a woman in business, it’s crystal clear that, even in 2022, we still come up against multiple glass ceilings. While it is my hope that as the years go by, more and more young girls see businesswomen who inspire them, I am even more hopeful that they build the confidence to see themselves as their own role models.
Do you have a role model? If so, let me know by dropping me a note on LinkedIn.