Being Equal Doesn’t Mean Being the Same: Why Behaving Like a Girl Can Change Your Life and Grow Your Business by Joanna L Krotz: A Book Review

I recommend this book on entrepreneurship for women by Joanna Krotz to any woman thinking of starting a business. Why is entrepreneurship an important topic for women? Krotz explains that because women still don’t have pay parity and are subject to what Kolb and Porter describe as “second-generation bias,” they are leaving male-run organizations to launch and grow their own businesses in record numbers. For example, women leave technology companies at a rate of 52 percent, twice the rate of men. Krotz notes that in 2015, there were 10 million women-owned businesses (WOBs) in the United States, which generated $1.6 trillion in sales and employed 9 million people. Women of color owned one-third of these WOBs. Krotz describes many unique characteristics and strengths that women bring to running a business that are especially relevant to today’s world, and she offers specific female-friendly tools to help leverage those strengths.

Some Historical Context

I found the historical context offered by Krotz very interesting. She notes that there have been many successful female entrepreneurs in the United States, such as Madame C.J. Walker, who have been overlooked and under recognized. She tells the inspiring stories of several of these early role models. In addition, she explains that the source of our current gender wage gap is federal labor policies established during World War II, when women were encouraged to take up the manufacturing jobs vacated by men drafted by the military to fight in the war, which sanctioned paying women less than men for doing the same work. While these policies were not intended to create a permanent justification for paying women less, this is another example of “second-generation bias” where the negative impact on women’s earnings continues to this day.

Some Differences Women Owners Bring to the Table

Krotz identifies some important trends and strengths for women business owners:
  • Women owners may be satisfied with smaller enterprises to meet income and professional needs and maintain desired work/life balance.
  • Women may define success differently. Krotz notes, “Size is a male obsession and a less-relevant measure for women’s success. Fulfillment may be harder to measure, but it’s far more appropriate for women-owned businesses,” which often seek to accomplish a combination of profit, social impact, culture, and employee-satisfaction goals.
  • Women are more collaborative and more patient than men in the start-up phase of a business.
Of particular interest is a SWOT business model analysis created by Krotz to showcase the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of today’s women entrepreneurs. Krotz lays out her analysis and then offers tips and strategies for leveraging the strengths and addressing areas of weakness, opportunity, and threats. Here are some examples of strengths and weaknesses in the analysis: Strengths of women entrepreneurs
  • Can quickly connect with prospects and stakeholders
  • Strategically assess perilous risks
  • Identify early market opportunities
  • Respect staff and instill loyalty
  • Capably organize and manage
Weaknesses of women entrepreneurs
  • Undersell their accomplishments to potential investors
  • Avoid reasonable debt needed for growth
  • Undervalue the ROI of building networks
  • Resist delegating: prey to the Superwoman syndrome
  • Set product prices too low
This book draws upon research from the Babson College Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership and the Center for Gender in Organizations at the Simmons School of Management in Boston, along with a range of other research from brain mapping to leadership competencies, to examine gender differences for entrepreneurs. Overall, it provides excellent context for why women are choosing to become entrepreneurs, validates our strengths, and gives practical tools and strategies for becoming successful business owners. I particularly appreciate the author’s suggestions for rewriting the rules of success for women entrepreneurs, along with a frank and honest assessment of ways we undermine our success. The information about different avenues for raising investment funding in addition to a variety of online resources for entrepreneurs makes this a must-own resource book for current and potential women entrepreneurs.]]>