Making it as an entrepreneur is damn hard work. This is true regardless of gender. But for women in business there are, what I would call a unique set of challenges. To help me on my entrepreneurial journey I read a lot. Business books, self-help books, and memoirs written by successful business people and role models. I read a lot of Fantasy and Sci-Fi too, but that’s mostly just for fun. The biz book I’ve been thumbing this week is #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso, and like Sophia herself it’s refreshingly different.
Starting and running a successful business is hard, period. The perception that women have more trouble in this area because the ‘period’ in question is monthly is out-dated. You might even call it misogynistic. The challenges women face are considerably different to those of men, partly because we are women and we think and act differently (that’s psychology, hormones, and brain chemistry at work, not gender stereotyping), and partly because of social attitudes towards women in the work place. One way to avoid the latter is to set up your own business and work entirely on your own terms. This is what I did, and what many other women worldwide are doing also. One of those women is Sophia Amoruso, founder of (among other things) Nasty Gal, a multi-million dollar vintage clothing business that started life as a tiny eBay boutique set up by Sophia.
Sisters have done it for themselves for a long time now.
The question stopped being ‘can we make it in business’ a long time ago, and has since become ‘exactly how do we make it in business?’
I wouldn’t exactly call #Girlboss a how to manual for building a business empire in heels, but it’s pretty damn close. Sophia’s writing style is wonderful. Although she includes a considerable amount of personal information, and details of her journey, it is all presented to prove the points she’ making, and lead by example.
The Reluctant Cinderella
This is not a memoir, and I appreciated that – although I love memoirs and appreciate a heavy dose of the author’s story shining through in their writing, I’ve found some memoir style business books are a little heavy on the nostalgia and sparse on practical advice and thoughtful reflection. Sophia achieved a fabulous balance in this regard, and #Girlboss spectacularly portrays her reluctant Cinderella story.
I say reluctant, because Sophia remains wonderfully humble. She shies away from seeing herself as a role model, and openly states that she finds it distasteful the media has made so much of her ‘fairytale’ journey. In less than a decade, she went from a shoplifting, dumpster-diving freegan (a person who eats only food obtained for free, usually from rubbish bins) into a millionaire vintage princess. But Sophia is keen to stress that, while it took a relatively short space of time, it still took a lot of bloody hard work.
That’s the joy of this book. It’s partly an inspirational war cry, partly a cold hard dose of reality.
Women can definitely have it all, but having it all takes a lot: guts, confidence, persistence, vision. Sophia has these qualities in spades. And she’s more than happy to share what she’s learnt along the way with her eager readers.
#Girlboss is more than just a business book, it’s touchstone for keeping things real, whatever that might mean for you. For me it’s a need to remind myself I need patience (not my strong suit!), and that just because I’m not where I ultimately want to be right now, doesn’t mean I’ll never get there.
These things take time.
And balls (the metaphoric kind).