That was me. I was fresh out of alternatives. I knew I had to do something, anything, and make it work somehow.
That’s how many entrepreneurs especially women begin—out of necessity.
With that 99cent packet of pumpkin seeds in my hand, I had no idea that I would go on to build a $20 million dollar business. I didn’t even know what being an entrepreneur meant and I had certainly never heard of necessity entrepreneurship. I just knew I had to turn things around. Living on the financial edge every day is wearing. All I could think about is when the next (equipment) breakdown was going to be, how were we going to pay for that, and where the money was to pay for sports equipment and school activity fees. Things that many families, especially in rural communities deal with every day of their lives.
And I know this, not just because I lived it, but because I have been fortunate enough to work with organizations like NWBC and SBA. Currently I’m a Council Member of NWBC (National Women’s Business Council) on the research committee and this is where it all begins—research that creates dialog that leads to solutions that create policy. It’s policy at our government level that secures the necessary funding for all the different programs that SBA (Small Business Administration) operate.
It's amazing how many industries and big brands started with SBA providing initial capital, Chobani, Great Clips, and Constant Contact to name a few.
I admit, I’m a bit of an information junkie, you have to be to be interested in research, but what I find so exciting and fulfilling, is that you can use the data to effect change—change that can positively impact the lives of families and communities for generations to come. That to me is what being an entrepreneur is all about. Making money, sure that’s great, but using your knowledge, influence and skills for the greater good, well that’s a privilege.
Now, here’s some interesting stats that came out ofa recent research report form the NWBC that I was involved “Necessity as a Driver of Women’s Entrepreneurship”.
• 81 percent of women-owned businesses see fewer than $50,000 in receipts per year.
• Women start a business not exclusively due to the lack of employment options, but also because the options available are either not preferable or are not sufficient to achieve a desired outcome.
• Research explored in the literature review suggests that countries with better paid leave, subsidized childcare, and more part-time opportunities demonstrate a negative correlation with necessity entrepreneurship and a positive correlation with growth-oriented forms of entrepreneurship.
All of those stats related to me back in the early 90’s. I turned to entrepreneurship for all the reasons in the study:
• Lack of employment opportunities in my rural community
• The economic disparities facing women in the workforce
• Lack of child care support for my kids
Without even realizing it, I made the necessity entrepreneurship decision to survive and thrive as business a owner and leader.
And, tomorrow (August 24th) Senator Heitkamp will be at our EarthKind® plant in Bismak, ND as part of NWBC’s Solutions Lab Roundtables. I will be welcoming them and local women business leaders and entrepreneurs to discuss Necessity Entrepreneurship in general, but in particular North Dakota being a bounce back state for women business owners since the recession. North Dakota mirrors the nation in percentage of women-owned firms bringing in less than $50,000 in receipts, so how can we help them scale up and what can we do to boost innovation in rural communities which Senator Heitikamp is championing with her Startup Entrepreneur Empowerment Delivery (SEED) Act.
There will be a lot more to come and stay tuned to my social media channels for as it happens information.
So excited and honored to be a part of building women’s business in my home state and the nation.