The real reason women become entrepreneurs

by | Dec 4, 2014


PrintWhat drives women from the perceived security of a job, with a regular income, to venture into the uncertain world of being an entrepreneur and business owner?

Why would they leave something they have known for many years? A place they have spent so much of their time, an environment where they have defended decisions they haven’t truly supported, a place where they have met life long friends, even spouses, and where they have been paid, week in and week out.

Recent research I conducted of 300 Corporate Crossovers® (women who leave their jobs to start their own business to become entrepreneurs)  revealed that only 1% of them stated the glass ceiling as the reason why they left their jobs.

The number one reason given for why women leave their jobs is that they are frustrated with the toxic culture


[Tweet "It isn't the glass ceiling. That is a myth."]



Toxic Culture

No longer do they want to tolerate the corporate politics, bureaucracy, back stabbing, opaque decision-making, paying lip service to the company values, poor leadership, hampered innovation, decisions overturned, extreme pressure, long hours, presenteeism, unrealistic demands, deadlines and budgets, no appreciation of staff and effort…the list goes on.

They decide that they can do it better themselves, and leave.

[Tweet " "Quite simply, they crave freedom, flexibility and control.""]

 “I wanted more freedom and felt that I could make a bigger impact in the world on my own rather than in the confines of the corporate office” commented one research respondent who had crossed over.

Toxic culture

It’s as if these women wake up one day and have the realisation that ‘I am worth more than this’. They see they have other options that will be more fulfilling and work better with their lives. Whether it be through frustration or life events, the scales fall from their eyes about their corporate life and they decide to crossover.

The journey to that moment of leaving their job, and deciding to start their own business, can take months, even years. It is the slow smoulder of frustration, disappointment and feeling they could do more than this, that over time, builds to the decision to leave.

[Tweet "Events that life thrusts upon us can give us cause to reflect and question our current circumstances"].

It may be an illness, a sudden death, a sick child, a marriage breakdown or an unexpected event that will catalyse inspection of our current circumstances. Sharply, clearly and with courage.

We become less tolerant and there is a feeling that our lives are worth more than this. We become frustrated that we aren’t living our dream.  We wonder if this is really worth it. We start to reflect where we are at and begin an honest assessment.

They reassess what they are doing, the value it has, and if it’s all really worth it. They start to wonder what else they could be doing. After pondering getting a new job, they realise that this won’t change their situation enough, and so the idea to start a business is born.

This isn’t the story of an ambitious entrepreneur with an idea to change the world, rather a woman who wants to change how work works for her.

Making work work for them

Another Corporate Crossover from the research comments, “I had major frustration about not being able to implement my ideas. I was not doing what I am passionate about. I was using my skills to make someone else money. I don’t like being told what to do. I wanted more freedom to decide how I use my time.”

We hear the niggling and gentle prodding that not all is right with our world but sometimes it is easier to ignore this than to delve deeper. Ignoring means we can continue on, risk free. This works well until an external event causes us to stop, reflect and ponder. We give ourselves the permission to reflect, assess and possibly set a new path.

And that new path is very often starting our own business.

If companies wish to strengthen their female talent pipeline, they have to start with the corporate culture.



Wendy Kerr Contributor
With a 20-year career in multi-national blue chip organisations, Wendy has specialised in creating and launching new businesses around the world with companies such as Apple, FT and Intuit. A Corporate Crossover herself, Wendy left her corporate career to create a successful 6 figure coaching and consulting business running it from London and Tokyo. She works with leaders of high growth, global technology companies. Clients include; Expedia, IBM, and Betfair. Wanting to change the way work works, she has also mentored and fueled over 1,500 women to create a business that allows them to live the life they love. Her company, Corporate Crossovers®, enables women wherever they are in their journey of leaving their job to start their business successfully, providing them with workshops, tools, and mentoring. She is a best selling author of two books; ‘Corporate Crossovers; when it’s time to leave the office and start your own business’, and ‘My new business; a busy women’s guide to start up success’.
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