I’ve been working on a interview series over at IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com about women and their relationship with personal finance and business, featuring several successful female entrepreneurs, consultants, and freelancers. The first one-on-one is with Pamela Slim, a great gal from Mesa, AZ. Pam left the corporate world in 1996 to start Ganas Consulting, and she writes a great blog called Escape from Cubicle Nation, about transitioning from the rat race to independence! These women each have some amazing firsthand experience and a lot of great advice; they’re an amazing source of wisdom, and it’s really eye-opening to hear their viewpoints. Here’s a short excerpt:
What challenges did you have to overcome in the process of setting up Ganas? Did you face any hardships you think most men in the consulting business might not face?
I actually had it pretty easy when I started my business since I got a nice, juicy client right off the bat (Hewlett Packard) and a six-month project that guaranteed I could pay my bills without worrying about hustling for new work. Since I was selling my brain and not a physical product, there were no big start-up costs or financing hurdles, which is sometimes where you hear stories of slightly increased challenges for women to get VC funding or bank loans.
My challenge in the early years had to do with pricing my services appropriately, since I tended to undervalue my services and felt uncomfortable asking for “too much.” I know that this is something that affects many new entrepreneurs, but in my 11+ years of self-employment experience, I would say that it affects women at a much higher ratio then men. It could be that there is a big conspiracy by the misogynistic male white corporate machine that starts to disempower us in kindergarten and stop us from all kinds of things like getting into math, finance and engineering careers. I discount nothing, as I was raised with a healthy dose of skepticism and a fondness for theories of oppression.
Another likely theory is that females are raised in many societies to be in a “helper” and “nurturer” role, and to downplay material gain. Fathers historically talk to sons more about business and finance than they do their daughters. Women are taught to compromise and broker peace, not to engage in hardball negotiations. Whatever the cause of my beliefs, I had to get over some ineffective mental blocks in order to charge what I was worth. I am always curious what other women (and men!) think about this topic, so please comment here.
You say you went through a phase of self-employment evangelism. What are some of the more effective methods you found to encourage others to go solo?
My best experience with encouragement is through my blog. I call it the Magical Mystery Tour, because ever since I began to write it, I have experienced a strange and wondrous connection with thousands of people I never would have had the chance to talk to. I never know which topic or post is going to make an impact…sometimes what I consider the most off-topic or “out there” subjects get the most heartfelt responses. Perhaps my favorite compliment ever came from a reader who told me that I represented “virtual hope.” How cool is that? I would like to stress that my goal is not to have everyone in the world quit their corporate job to start a business. Some are not ready, equipped or naturally suited to self-employment. What I do want to do is demystify the process so that more people feel comfortable exploring the option to see if it is right for them.
Continue reading at IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com: Heroines of Personal Finance and Entrepreneurship #1: Pamela Slim.