As seen in HuffPost: What Men Can Learn from Female Entrepreneurs as the Gender Gap Closes.
The Women In The Workplace Study 2016 taught us that women in corporate America experience an uneven playing field, but are female entrepreneurs experiencing the gender gap at the same level? Last year Bloomberg reported that only 7% of the 2,005 founders who received funding of $20 million or more from U.S. Venture Capital were women. Statistics like these do not seem to be deterring women from continuing to work to close the gap, in fact, some would argue that heightened awareness of the gap is empowering women to start more businesses. The 2014 OPEN State of Women-Owned Business report estimated that women are starting approximately 1,200 new businesses each day, up from about 740 a day the year prior, and I would imagine that we are continuing to see exponential growth.
I have spoken with plenty of female entrepreneurs about their opinions on the gender gap, but I couldn’t help but wonder: What do the male entrepreneurs think of the gender gap? Doug Foley has a unique perspective on what is happening because he has had the opportunity to interview countless female founders on his podcast The Happiness of Pursuit so I invited him to share what men can learn from female entrepreneurs as the gender gap closes.
Tara: What do you think the most important thing is when deciding to start a business?
Doug: Being clear on your why. I personally have gone through so many businesses that failed because I did it just for money. There was no bigger purpose and there was no clear mission behind it. It was strictly about making a lot of money fast, but because I did it for the wrong reasons I didn’t have the stamina or the endurance to really make it a profitable business.
Of all of the interviews I have had on The Happiness of Pursuit Podcast, the people who were clear about why they were going into business not only have made the biggest impact, but also saw the fastest growth and the most revenue.
Tara: And so you are saying you attribute that growth and revenue to them knowing their why and having a powerful mission that they wanted to stand behind?
I think there is a lot of confusion between people just trying to make money and those that are trying to pursue their passion. This came to light in an interview with Jeff Hoffman when he talked about The Gold Purpose, which is the intersection between three things.
The thing that you love to do.
The thing the world values.
The thing that you are passionate about.
And in researching that , I discovered there is something more powerful - and it is called Ikigai. When translated from Japanese, it means “reason for being.” It is your reason for getting out of bed in the morning, and is attributed to how people live such long, fulfilling lives.
When I discovered this, I had realized why I had failed so many times with past businesses.
For instance, I am a guy who hunts and fishes and I attempted to sell makeup through a network marketing business. There is a huge misalignment there. There is no shock or surprise as to why it failed, because it wasn’t something I was passionate about. I was doing it because it was sold to me as a way to make money quickly and end up drive a White Mercedes.
Tara: What is your mission now that you have had the opportunity to learn from those failures?
Doug: Once I realized that I needed to find a way to make a bigger impact, I set out on a huge mission to help 1,000 entrepreneurs create a million dollar business by January 3, 2023, which is the day before my 40th birthday.
For most, that goal may seem absolutely insane...which is exactly what I love to hear! A goal shouldn’t be easy to hit; otherwise everyone would do it.
Much of my drive comes from three podcast interviews that helped me make a mindset shift from Inside Quest, (now known as Impact Theory).
The three guests were Jeff Hoffman, who talked about finding your Golden Purpose and the power of entrepreneurship; Bo Eason, who is a former NFL safety turned Broadway performer; and Dave Whorton, who founded The Tugboat Foundation, which is focused on building 100 year companies that are for profit and built to withstand generational change.
Listening to each of those entrepreneurs speak about the impact they could make in the world, was so massively transformative to my mindset because I truly saw the real power of entrepreneurship, and that was the ability to solve complex problems by using your profits to make an impact. What is even more ironic, is that almost anyone with a smartphone and the internet can start a business and build a better life.
Between 60-70% of my guests are women who have created businesses because either they ran into a glass ceiling, or they wanted a better life.
To them, a better life meant they could choose to spend more time with their kids instead of a traditional 9-5. In most cases, that became a $75,000 per year business and having the opportunity to drop off and pick up their kids at school everyday, not necessarily a seven figure business.
The very measurement of success changed quite a bit, and it is amazing to see this groundswell of women empowering other women to create businesses whether it is from network marketing, or starting from scratch.
Tara: It’s so interesting to hear your perspective on that because I feel, as a female entrepreneur, I am surrounded by so many other women who are doing incredible things and really supporting each other to chase their dreams.
Doug: One of the things that shocked me more than anything about entrepreneurship has been the overwhelming support, and I see it more amongst women than men. It is not as cut throat as it appears on TV, especially within the startup world.
With respect to the gender gap, I think whoever works hard and has the best solution will become successful regardless of gender, race, socioeconomic background.
The more entrepreneurs “who make it,” not men and women, will help to build momentum and bring even more people to the table.
Tara: You make a good point that there used to be a gender gap and we are closing it and I feel like we are closing it pretty quickly. Do you foresee a tipping point in the future, and I know it is hard to predict without data and numbers, but just from your own opinion do you think there’s a possibility that women will surpass men in the entrepreneurial space and that we will create a dynamic where there will be more programs to help men or that we will no longer see gender and we will all just be helping each other equally to level the playing field at that tipping point?
Doug: I think the gender gap is closing. I think it really comes down to an individual’s perception on whether or not they can be successful and the rules for starting a business have completely changed.
10 years ago if you wanted to start a business, you needed to create a business plan, apply for a loan, hire staff, etc. Now, virtually anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can start a business.
While there is still no shortage of bias, the opportunity to create a business and find funding is much easier for women now than 10 years ago. Whether it is through crowd funding, grants, or even microloans - the access to capital, which was a huge barrier before is all but gone.
To address the second part of your question, about 60-70% of the interviewees on The Happiness of Pursuit Podcast are female entrepreneurs who are redefining what it means to “build a successful business.” Many of the limits, or in this case, a “gender gap” were a result of allowing perceptions to stand in the way. Those barriers are being shattered. Just do a quick search on the hashtag #mompreneur and look at the number of empowering women in almost every industry.
Tara: You mentioned before that you had 3 businesses fail because you weren’t focused on your why and your mission, do you think that you had to go through all 3 of those failures in order to get to where you are right now with a successful business and podcast?
Doug: 100%. There’s a great saying from Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
I have had three businesses fail. An online apparel company, an online scholarship platform, and two attempts at network marketing. In everyone of those failures I experienced massive growth and forced myself to learn something new, which I can now share with mentees of The Action Academy.
Those failures actually helped lead to the premise behind The Happiness of Pursuit Podcast, which is to find your passion, take action, and build the life of your dreams.
I know so many people with great ideas, they are just too scared to take action. Sure I failed, but had I not tried, I wouldn’t know what I know today and more importantly, I wouldn’t be able to help the people to the same magnitude.
Tara: You now have a very successful business, can you tell me a little bit about what you are doing now.
Doug: I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to push the boundaries of digital advertising as a National Sales Consultant for an Automotive Publisher and as an Agency Owner of Foley Media.
My biggest passion is The Happiness of Pursuit Podcast, which will be expanding this fall to bring me closer to that goal of helping 1,000 entrepreneurs build a $1.0 million business by January 3, 2023 with the introduction of The Action Academy. This will be a private membership community where we will help refine an idea and help members make their first sales and scale all the way up to that $1.0 million dollar goal.
Tara: What is the biggest lesson you have learned as an entrepreneur that you’d like to share with others who are starting their entrepreneurial journeys?
Doug: It is ironic that you ask for a single lesson. I do something similar at the end of every episode and now I know why my guests struggle with it so much.
When I first started the podcast, I had a goal to have Jeff Hoffman on the show. He is hands down one of the most prolific storytellers and teachers I have ever heard speak, and I wanted to have the opportunity to share his expertise with my audience. I will never forget the pure shock and excitement I had when he replied back to my request in LinkedIn to join me on the show!
What I learned from that experience was so powerful for a many reasons:
You will be shocked at who is willing to help you (but you have to ask)
The people you surround yourself with will have an immediate impact on your success - even if it is just for a brief moment in time, and most importantly
When you take action and chase the things you want most - they will happen!
If you want to find out how you can be one of the 1000 entrepreneurs that Doug helps scale to six figures you can sign up to get program updates here.