Why Prime Time For Women Entrepreneurs May Be Later Than You Think

Arianna Huffington, who launched aninternaitonal media empire later in her career, says she now sees sleep as critical to success.Millennials get a lot of buzz— about what they’re doing, where they work, what they buy, what they think, what they click. And it’s mostly all good. But sometimes just listening to the stories of Late Blooming Baby Boomers who are leaders in their fields can be an inspiration for all women entrepreneurs in the workplace of any age.Gabrielle Moss writes in Bustle about the lessons from Julia Child, film directors Lynn Shelton and Claire Denis, plus author Dorothy Allison. Moss also writes about forgiving yourself for not jumping into an idea or a business until later in life.“Achievement isn’t some kind of special material that the powers that be only dole out to the very young; in fact, sometimes, waiting is better,” Moss writes. “So if you’re young and you’re afraid because you haven’t figured things out yet, don’t be; and if you’ve waited and you’re afraid, know that you have nothing to fear. You may have just been waiting for the right moment, and that right moment might be right now.”Dottie Mattison, CEO of Gracious Home New York tells the New York Times that her leadership style has changed over the years, mellowed a bit. And she has slowed down.“I talk a lot less than I used to. I still talk too much, and I work on this every single day. A mentor of mine once told me, ‘You stop at the first question. Keep asking ‘why,’ and then ask again, and then ask again, because you’re not going to get remotely close to the truth unless you keep asking questions.’ He would literally say, ‘Ask ‘why’ six times,’” Mattison said.“The other thing that I’ve had consistent feedback on over the years is that I just move way too fast. A colleague sat me down one day and said, ‘Your slowest move is everyone else’s fastest move.’ And it wasn’t meant as a compliment.”Everyone knows the story of Arianna Huffington’s late blooming career launch of Huffington Post. Now she’s out with a new book, The Sleep Revolution, and she tells Valentina Zarya of Fortune that so many problems in life, business and the world are a result of losing shut eye.Zarya writes: “Huffington’s thesis is that our collective belief that productivity equals success, coupled with the ability to be ‘on’ 24/7 thanks to technology, is causing a worldwide epidemic. ‘Our cultural assumption that overwork and burnout are the price we must pay in order to succeed is at the heart of our sleep crisis,’ she writes.”This is not just a gimmick to sell a new book and maybe take a nap now and then. Sleeplessness causes economic problems.“For employers, this nugget is particularly compelling: According to Huffington, the total annual cost of sleep deprivation to the U.S. economy is more than $63 billion in absenteeism and ‘presenteeism’ (‘when employees are present at work physically but not really mentally focused’),” Zarya writes. “Huffington predicts that major companies, if they haven’t already, are on the brink of addressing sleep deprivation in a big way. ‘I predict that nap rooms in corporations are going to be as prevalent as conference rooms,’ she says.”And everyone can stay awake for this new research in the Grant Thornton International Business Report, “Women in Business: The Path to Leadership.” The study shows that women of all ages, and particularly those who have been climbing the ladder for a while, report that gender bias has been a distinct barrier since the start of their careers.“Drawing on 5,404 interviews in  35 economies conducted through our International Business Report and 20 in-depth interviews with senior business leaders, this report finds that women’s advancement is being constrained by a number of factors, from entrenched social norms and gender bias to parenthood and archaic business practices. Clearly there  is no silver bullet to combat such a  broad range of barriers, but the research offers insight into the actions society, governments, businesses and women themselves can take to begin the  process of change.”So why are so many women entrepreneurs who have put in the time, years and struggle in a career not already at the very top, like their male counterparts would be after investing the same amount of time and toil?According to the report, “A pervasive belief is that not enough women put themselves forward for promotion or for the ‘stretch assignments’ that will give them the experience and visibility necessary for advancement to senior leadership, a view shared by 20 percent of the women (and 23 percent of the men)  we surveyed.”The report continues: “Linda Wirth, a gender expert with the International Labor Organization (ILO) says: ‘A lot of the stories you hear are that the women don’t ‘lean in’. But there are just as many stories of women who say that they’ve done everything to climb, but [have] ultimately been frustrated because they do not get appointed by the men around. This is  one of the reasons why women leave  the corporate world to start their  own businesses.’”Another impetus for woman entrepreneurs to start a new business solo midway through the career climb could be unpleasant interactions with other female coworkers in some organizations, according to a new study from the University College of London’s School of Management.This is not what we like to hear, but unfortunately a reality for many women entrepreneurs.[bctt tweet=“Women struggle to interact with female co-workers which can restrict their career progression.”]UCL Assistant professor Sun Young Lee, author of the study of 797 participants, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, “Women  could struggle to interact with female co-workers, becoming overly cut-throat and mean, which can restrict their career progression.”She adds, “Within businesses, the hierarchy of the organization is shaped through daily interactions between staff, incorporating a mix of delegation and cooperation. But the constant need to compete with female co-workers could leave some women lacking the support from other staff they need to succeed.”According to the Daily Mail, “The findings could have implications for business, and the researchers suggest that organizations with a majority of female employees could be better off switching tack and organizing work in a way which fosters a less competitive environment.”“‘As a woman who has worked across the world, I’ve long observed that women take competition with other women much more personally than men take competition with other men. My research provides support to such an observation,” Lee said.Launching a business and leading a company is a challenge for women of all ages, and for all women entrepreneurs  around the world.Commenting on Canadian women entrepreneurs, author Leyla Seka writes in Tech Vibes: “Today, women lead a third of the country’s small and medium-sized businesses and employ 1.5 million people, while over half of them have more than 10 years of management or ownership experience under their belts.”She adds, “But despite these credentials, women-owned businesses don’t seem to be growing. In fact, Industry Canada’s latest research on female entrepreneurs found that women-owned companies are less likely than those owned by men to grow beyond small or medium-sized.”To get female entrepreneurship growing in Canada and jumpstart ideas for women entrepreneurs there again, Seka offers tips that can be used by women leaders everywhere of all ages.“Transparency has become a business and communications buzzword, but consumers also know when a company is pulling one over on them. The same can be said for leaders. Successful business owners are those who are genuine — who have a clear vision and aren’t trying to dance around it,” Seka writes.“While leading a company can be stressful, those who maintain their core beliefs and personalities are going to be the business leaders who have a loyal employee and customer base. With the skills, the knowledge, and the experience already in hand, taking charge of some of these attitudes can help push you and your business to the next level.”The restaurant business is one arena where women entrepreneurs and leaders can enter early, mid or late in their careers, research and experience reveal.Ina Pinkney, known as The Breakfast Queen in Chicago and around the world, launched into the food business at 37 years old. She opened a special order bakery called The Dessert Kitchen in 1980, then Ina’s Kitchen in 1991. She was the Chef/Owner of INA’S, an American Food restaurant serving Breakfast and Lunch in the West Loop Market District, which opened in 2001 and closed in 2013. Her recent book, Ina’s Kitchen, is part recipes/ part memoir. An award-winning documentary about the last 31 days of her restaurant, “Ina’s Kitchen,”  has been showing in film festivals around the country to wide acclaim.Pinkney is a prime example of women in their prime employing Power To# 3 from Take The Lead, or Using What You’ve Got.Apparently the restaurant business is open to dynamic women at all stages of their careers. Dawn Sweeney, president of the National Restaurant Association, acknowledges that the food world is more welcoming to women.Sweeney writes in Huffington Post, “Restaurants truly are an industry with no glass ceiling: we have more women owners and managers than any other industry in our nation. And the opportunities women have found in restaurants extend far beyond ownership.”She adds,”Sixty-one percent of adult women have worked in a restaurant at some point in their life, and 37 percent got their first job in one. From students to retirees and servers to owners, millions of women are finding their pathways to success in restaurants.”Proving that point is Leah Chase, the 93-year-old proprietor of Dooky Chase, a Creole restaurant gem in New Orleans. As the first ever African-American recipient of the James Beard Foundations’s lifetime achievement award, Chase tells the New Yorker: “I’m still going at ninety-three. And I’ll still be going at ninety-five.”