Even as a young girl, I always saw myself sitting in a
large skyscraper office, running the company I founded.
It never occurred to me that others would think
this was an unusual goal.
—Sophomore at Boston University, 1995
Dreams of entrepreneurship are woven throughout the fabric of Ameri-
can life. Liz Claiborne, Jenny Craig, and Oprah Winfrey allowed them-
selves to dream “big” and then, through hard work, careful planning,
and brilliant execution, they made those dreams come true. You might
have a similar vision and, if you are reading this book, you are proba-
bly already well on the way to making it a reality. If so, you are among
the entrepreneurial elite. Many people think long and hard about start-
ing their own businesses, but only a few will take action, and even
fewer will pursue growth.
Why? Because, exciting as it sounds, starting a new venture is
daunting. It requires imagination, courage, and commitment from
you. Whether you choose to create an independent movie production
company, sign on as a restaurant franchisee, acquire a local print shop,
or launch the next Internet colossus, you will face enormous chal-
lenges before you can claim the rewards that are calling to you. If it is
so challenging, why do people do it? Why have you chosen to be an
Your answer depends on your underlying motives. You might be
seeking wealth and fame, or you might be looking for an avenue to
express your creative genius. Perhaps you want to deliver an extraordi-
nary product or service that will enable others to live more comfortable
lives or you hope to nd the personal satisfaction that comes from creat-
ing something useful and enduring. For many people, entrepreneurship
represents their best opportunity for personal independence or work ex-
ibility. No matter what your primary drivers are, the economic rewards
are likely to be important, whether your goal is to become the next Inter-
net billionaire or simply to provide a better living for your family.
Power, achievement, personal comfort, and self-actualization are among
the energizers that spur entrepreneurs to action. Sometimes, just satisfy-
ing a personal need is sufcient motivation. For example:
When Marla Malcom was unable to locate cosmetic prod-
ucts she preferred, she started her own company. She
bought and refurbished two cosmetic boutiques in Wash-
ington, DC to launch Bluemercury, Inc., a retail distributor
of high-end and hard-to-find beauty products. Three years
later, she added a mail order catalog and launched an
online store, achieving revenues of $8 million.
Her busi-
ness philosophy? “(Offer) super-cheap, reliable products
and serve the customer.”
Just how high you set the goal for yourself depends on your level
of personal aspirations. Those aspirations will determine what kind of
new venture you choose to start. For example, achieving nancial com-
fort might be one of your goals. If nancial comfort means home own-
ership, a full pantry, college education funds, and a secure retirement,
you are likely to choose a business that can meet those expectations. If,
on the other hand, your view of nancial comfort includes multiple
homes, luxury cars, exotic vacations, designer jewelry, and yachts, you
might be interested in starting an entirely different type of business—
one that has boundless opportunities for growth and prot.
Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, started small,
but quickly saw an opportunity to expand her natural cos-
metics business worldwide. In her words, “if you have a
company with an itsy bitsy vision, you have an itsy bitsy
Many women business owners are highly motivated by personal
comfort and self-actualization goals and, as a result, their nancial
aspirations for the business are relatively low. They tend to start local
retail and service businesses that allow them to work at something
interesting, but maintain exibility so that they can spend substantial
time with (and sometimes give priority to) family. On the other hand,
large-scale businesses are extremely demanding, requiring full-time
attention, high levels of energy, and signicant leadership and deal-
making skills. Because these behaviors are inconsistent with the
motives and aspirations generally attributed to women, there is wide-
spread belief that few, if any, women are suited to running a high-
growth, high-potential new venture. This chapter investigates motives,
aspirations, and commitment of female entrepreneurs and maps these
to the demands of high-growth businesses. It concludes with tips for
overcoming possible concerns about your entrepreneurial motivation,
goals, and commitment.

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