Connect with us

Opinion Editorials

Open letter to first-time female entrepreneurs

So many times we think we have our lives figured out and then life throws us a curve ball. You feel the urge to do something different, go somewhere different, or be someone different. You have a great idea for a new business, something that feels one hundred percent right, but you don’t know if taking the plunge into entrepreneurship is right for you.

Published

on

female entrepreneurs

Is entrepreneurship right for you?

So many times we think we have our lives figured out and then life throws us a curve ball. You feel the urge to do something different, go somewhere different, or be someone different. You have a great idea for a new business, something that feels one hundred percent right, but you don’t know if taking the plunge into entrepreneurship is right for you.

It is. If you feel it in your gut, it is.

Some things in life are worth the risk. The absolute worst thing that can happen if you try is that it doesn’t completely work out and you come up with a new plan. The absolute worst thing that can happen if you don’t try and you place your dreams on the back burner is that you never know what could have been. Life is full of regrets that we cannot avoid; don’t let your dreams be one of them. If you think about your idea constantly, do something about it.

bar

Find balance in everything

The best advice I was ever given was by my favorite professor. He said, ‘find balance in everything” when we were discussing my career as a scholar and my future as a writer after graduation. Being younger, at first, I wondered what this meant, really. I mean, I was balanced. I worked full-time, went to college full-time and still managed to see my friends and family on the weekends. That felt like balance to me and it probably was at that particular point in my life. However, now that I’m older, I know exactly what he meant (and this is why he was and always will be my favorite professor: he gave students the knowledge, but let them find their own way to the answer).

By “finding balance” he meant don’t let one thing consume you. It’s so easy when you’re just starting out to keep your eye on the prize and not want to give up working on a project to do other things. Those other things are equally important.  Starting a new business can consume you. You’ll forget prior commitments. You’ll forget to eat. You’ll lose sleep. Don’t let it consume you. Instead, schedule breaks and stick to them. Pick a day or time to connect with family and friends. You don’t want to lose sight of “you” outside of work.

Take it step by step, and don’t be afraid to reach out

Starting a business is hard. There will be days you want to give up. You’ll wonder why you ever decided to do this. There will be days you cry. You’ll stress out and shut down. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Start with your idea. Do some research. Develop your plan. Talk to people who have been in similar situations. Use those social media channels to network with like-minded entrepreneurs.

Then, one day, you’ll see part of your plan working. You’ll make progress and you’ll realize you CAN do this. Along the way, if you find there is something that you can’t do, or don’t know how to do, ask for help. Help can come from a family member, mentor, friend, or expert.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t make you look like you don’t know what you’re doing. In fact, asking for help can often save you time and money. If you need a professional website and don’t have a great deal of experience, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. I did this many times when I started as a freelance writer.

Believe that it’s possible

Prioritize what matters and don’t worry about what you can’t control. Stress is always the enemy. Believe in yourself. Believe in your idea, your team, your project and your goals. Don’t let anyone else tell you that you can’t do it. You can. The risk of failure is minimal when you finally realize your dream. Every champion was once a contender. Every pro was once an amateur. Every expert was once a beginner. So dream big and start now.

#WhoRunTheWorld

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Opinion Editorials

Dispelling the myth that women don’t get raises because they don’t ask

(EDITORIAL) It has been accepted as fact that women don’t get raises because they don’t ask as often as men, but new studies indicate that’s not true at all.

Published

on

women female negotiations

Many of the seemingly universal “truths” of business often come down to assumptions made about workers based on their gender.

Among the most oft-repeated of these “truths” is that women and other femme-identifying people are bad at self-advocating, particularly in matters involving compensation.

These include: Women don’t negotiate their salaries. Women don’t get promotions or leadership positions because they don’t “lean in.” Women don’t ask for raises.

This last truth is finally being discussed as the myth it is.

Over at The Cut, Otegha Uwagba discusses her own experience successfully and not-so-successfully negotiating a raise, but more interestingly how increasingly research has shown that there is no “gap” in between the genders when it comes to asking. Rather, the disparity really arises when it comes to which ask is heard.

As Uwagba explains, “While men and women ask for pay raises at broadly similar rates, women are more likely to be refused or suffer blowback for daring to broach the topic.”

This blowback comes from the inability of some people in leadership positions to think critically about the ways in which business still actively dismisses women’s leadership qualities while simultaneously praising less-competent men who demonstrate these very characteristics.

The HBR article acts as good reminder that the cumulative effect of all of these misguided “facts” about women and business often perpetuate the toxic culture that creates and circulates them.

The implication of all of these myths creates a sense that women are the ones responsible for the unequal treatment they often receive. When the message that women receive is that the reason they don’t get a raise is that they didn’t ask—even when they DO—that tells them that their lived experience isn’t as valid as the pervasive “truth.”

This is, simply put, gaslighting.

Even more, telling women that women face challenges because they didn’t do something or know something, rather than the addressing the very real fact that professional women face sexism at almost every step of their career does not help them.

It only helps those already in positions of power blame women for their own archaic beliefs and actions.

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

Funny females are less likely to be promoted

(CAREER) Science says that the funnier a female, the less likely she is to be promoted. Uhh…

Published

on

funny females promoted less often

Faceless keyboard warriors around the world have been — incorrectly — lamenting that women just aren’t funny for years now (remember the “Ghostbusters” remake backlash?).The good news is they are obviously wrong. The bad news? When women dare to reveal their comedic side in the workplace they are often perceived as “disruptive” while men are rewarded.

That’s right. Women not only have to worry about being constantly interrupted, receiving raises less frequently than men despite asking for them equally as often, and still making nearly $10,000 less than men each year, but now they have to worry about being too funny at the office.

A recent University of Arizona study asked more than 300 people to read the fictional resume of a clothing store manager with the gender-neutral name “Sam” and watch a video presentation featuring Sam. The videos came in four versions: a serious male speaker, a humorous male speaker, a serious female speaker and a humorous female speaker.

According to the researchers, “humorous males are ascribed higher status compared with nonhumorous males, while humorous females are ascribed lower status compared with nonhumorous females.” Translation: Male workers earn respect for being funny while their funny female coworkers are often seen in a more negative light.

There are, of course, several reasons this could be the case. The researchers behind this particular study pointed to the stereotype that women are more dedicated to their families than their work, and being perceived as humorous could convey the sense they don’t take their work as seriously as men.

Psychiatrist Prudy Gourguechon offered another take, putting the blame directly on Sam the clothing store manager, calling out their seemingly narcissistic behavior and how society’s tolerance for such behavior is “distinctly gender-based.” She says these biases go back to the social programming of our childhoods and the roles mothers and fathers tend to play in our upbringing.

So what are women supposed to do with this information?

Gourgechon’s status quo advice includes telling women to not stop being funny, but “to be aware of the the feelings and subjectivities of the people around you.” While recommending an empathetic stance isn’t necessarily bad advice, it still puts the onus on women to change their behavior, worry about what everyone else thinks and attempt to please everyone around them.

We already know that professional women can have an extremely hard time remaining true to themselves in the workplace — especially women in the tech industry — and authenticity is often a privilege saved for those who conform to the accepted culture. We obviously still have a long way to go before women stop being “punished” for being funny at work, but things seem to be progressing, however slowly.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama shared her thoughts last year on the improvements that have been made and the changes that still need to happen, including encouraging men to step up and do their part. In the wake of the #metoo movement, CNBC recommended five things men can do to support women at work. There are amazing women in STEM positions around the world we can all admire and shine a spotlight on.

All of these steps — both big and small — will continue to chip away at the gender inequality that permeates today’s workplaces. And perhaps one day in the near future, female clothing store manager Sam will be allowed to be just as funny as male clothing store manager Sam.

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

Two common business myths that could get you sued

(EDITORIAL) Two misconceptions in the business world can either make or break a small business.

Published

on

trademark lawsuit cartridges initiative

When you’re an entrepreneur with a small staff, you may be in the habit of running your team casually.

While there’s nothing wrong with creating a casual environment for your team (most people function better in a relaxed environment), it’s wise to pay close attention to certain legal details to make sure you’re covered.

It’s easy to misinterpret certain aspects of labor law since there is a lot of misinformation about what you can and cannot do inside of an employee-employer relationship. And since labor laws vary from state to state, it can be even more confusing.

As an entrepreneur, it might be strange to think of yourself as an employer. But when you’re the boss, there’s no way around it.

Here are two employment myths you might face as an entrepreneur along with the information you need to discern what’s actually true. Because these myths carry a lot of risk to your business, it’s important that you contact an attorney for advice.

1. Employees can waive their meal breaks without compensation

It’s a common assumption that any agreement in writing is an enforceable, legally binding contract, no matter what it contains. And for the most part, that’s true.

However, there are certain rights that cannot be signed away so easily.

For example, many states in the US have strict regulations around when and how employees can forfeit their unpaid meal breaks.

While meal breaks aren’t required at the Federal level, they are mandated at the state level and each state has different requirements that must be followed by employers. While some states allow employees to waive their meal breaks, on the other end of that the employer is usually required to compensate the employee.

For example, in California an employee can waive their 30-minute unpaid meal break only if they do so in writing and their scheduled shift is no more than 6 hours. In other words, when a shift is more than 6 hours, the meal break cannot be waived.

Additionally, when an employee waives their unpaid meal break, they must be paid for an on duty meal break and be compensated with an extra hour of pay for the day.

Vermont, on the other hand, provides no specific provisions for meal breaks and according to the Department of Labor, “Employees are to be given ’reasonable opportunities’ during work periods to eat and use toilet facilities in order to protect the health and hygiene of the employee.”

As you can see, some states have specific regulations while others have general rules that can be interpreted differently by each employer. It’s best not to make any assumptions and contact a labor law attorney to help you determine exactly what laws apply to you.

2. You own the copyright to all employee works

So you’ve hired both an employee and an independent contractor to design some graphics for your website. You might assume you automatically own the copyright to those graphics. After all, if you paid money, shouldn’t you own it?

While you may have paid a small fortune for your graphics, you may not be the legal copyright holder.

Employees vs. independent contractors:

When your employee creates a work (like graphic design) as part of their job, it’s automatically considered a “work made for hire,” which means you own the copyright. An independent contractor, however, is different.

While any legitimate work made for hire will give you the copyright, just because you created a work for hire agreement with your independent contractor doesn’t mean the work actually falls under the category of a work made for hire.

According to the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 101) a work made for hire is defined as “a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas.”

This means that unless your graphic design work (or other work you paid for) meets these requirements, it’s not a work made for hire.

In order to obtain the copyright, you need to obtain a copyright transfer directly from the creator, even though you’ve already paid for the work.

The boundaries of intellectual property rights can be confusing. You can protect your business by playing it safe and not making any assumptions before consulting an attorney to help you discern the specific laws in your state.

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Our Great Partners

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!