By Gemini Dhar
(Take Charge expert and author)
Single women, yes. But by choice or compulsion or fate? Being single or becoming single after years of marriage is a rising trend. The relationships of yesteryears when men and women stuck together through thick and thin or tolerated each other till death is now history.
Modern-day girls, women, and even grandmoms are learning and earning. Some of them are doing it with the support of society, while some are breaking taboos. While women consider a job at a bank to be safe and secure, there are a few daredevils who earn their living by playing stunts, being skydiving instructors, having good positions in dance bars, and even by holding political posts. Social media is flooded with success stories of women in all fields, showing us that it is possible!
The visual in my mind of an ideal woman is totally different from the visual my daughter has, and even more different from what my son has.
When my father worked in Tanzania as an architect, my mother supported him in making plans and drawing details in his designs and in managing the home effortlessly. For me, the picture of a successful woman is that of my mom — a lady dressed in a saree and managing the home along with her husband’s part-time work. A lady of vision and of strong willpower. My mother never received a salary and yet she did every task that an entrepreneur does, right from managing the finances of business to assisting my father in projects, from handling his clients to managing the firm and home. She planned future finances and saved money. She invested the profits and even corrected my father if she foresaw losses.
My children have seen an entrepreneur mom from the day they understood what business meant. While I worked in my office and created my designs and met international clients, my daughter played peekaboo with buttons and fabric and tassels. Their experience of a mompreneur has been great! They have seen a woman who has taken charge of her life, someone who has always made her own decisions, planned her own finances, and got them everything that they needed. Even today, their faith that their mom can and will succeed in whatever she chooses to do is firm. My daughter says, ‘You deserve the success. I am proud of you.’ Tears of pride choke me when she says that.
The power belief of ‘I can’ has got me to where I am today, in spite of being through thick and thin.
So, the picture in my children’s head is — ‘Yes, mom can do it.’
Many women whom I counsel for excellence in their business have shared their reasons to start a business or to soar high in the business that they already have. The women I have come across have common reasons or environment.
They have been either cheated out of their money, rights, and relationships, or have been left behind after the death of their partners. Some of them have faced such grave situations in their past that they have chosen to be single.
Like every coin has two sides, being a single woman can be a weakness or strength, depending on your perception and the action you take. Taking charge is a compulsion or a choice that they have to make.
These women often find themselves at the end of the tunnel, groping in darkness. Sometimes, they are left alone when their spouse passes away or leaves them or when they decide to go single after going through pain and abuse. The reasons are many, but they have a huge impact on their lives and their children’s lives.
Many argue that they are bound by many responsibilities and the lack of knowledge of how to run a business with the financial constraints and the time factors involved. A few women do not even know the basics of technology. Some are so broken that all they can experience is helplessness and depression, and are distraught. There is anger and humiliation which destroys their self-image. This is a very common issue in today’s world.
Neelam was 39 years old and had a young son of just 11 months, when she found out that she had been dumped. Her world shattered around her. Even before she could think of picking up the broken pieces of her life, she was shocked and worried about her baby’s future. He needed food, clothing, and shelter, along with education. Gone were the comfort of her home and the emotional support of her husband. After hours of crying and feeling numb, she decided that life was not worth living, and the easiest way out would be to say goodbye to the cruel world along with her 11-month-old son. She opted for suicide. But God had bigger plans for her. Her suicide attempt failed and she was found unconscious along with her son. They were rushed to the hospital and both of them survived.
The helplessness and fear of future, lack of support, and emotional pressure in such circumstances has horrific outcomes. This is not just one case. Out of the millions of women, I have seen hundreds go through such situations, and it shocks me beyond words.
When every effort Neelam made to escape her situation failed, she hoped for some miracle to happen. And then it did. When she was looking for ways and means to survive, a friend brought her to a class.
She enrolled in the arts and crafts class, where she met one of my students.
We spoke and brainstormed on what could be done with her to help her excel and not just become another entrepreneur by compulsion. At that time, Neelam expressed her deep desire to have a series of workshops to teach more women to create awesome footwear from their old and plain ones.
Thus, Neelam worked with her skills and we helped her put together a plan. Gradually, when her business started making money, her happiness and cheerfulness returned. Now, she had the desperate desire to succeed and we helped her find her passion and how to put into action her plan for success and financial freedom. It required a lot of mental transformation. She decided to take charge of her life and not be helpless or bound by limitations.
I speak about the emotional reason behind the success of an entrepreneur. In my 24 years as a fashion entrepreneur and now a Take Charge expert and author of 9 Ways to Empower, I see 40% of the women I guide soaring at the height of their ventures with the passion of discovering their inner selves.
The women who work with me know the strength that power beliefs have.
Knowing the reason behind what you do may not always be simple for us, as sometimes it requires self-criticism and self-awareness of our flaws and habits that could either empower or disempower us. Many of us dislike looking at the imperfect side of ourselves.
I believe each quality that we learn or adapt can change the course of our lives. Whether you choose to feel cool with a glass or beer or a glass of lemonade is a matter of personal perception. However, sweeping your imperfections under a carpet or overseeing your shortcomings will not lead you to progress.
You should know what empowers you and what excuses we make that disempower us.
Here are a few tips for single women and moms:
1. Having entrepreneurial skills is a blessing, but almost everyone can be an entrepreneur. Believe in yourself.
2. You must have the knowhow to get started.
3. Even if you are a novice in the trade, start out with a solid plan and half your job is done.
4. List down your reasons to start the venture. Get expert advice on how you can do it better and more effectively. Focus on one idea first and grow gradually.
5. Be clear on your investing decisions. How much will you need to have a great venture? What do you need to do to take the first step?
6. Don’t let your doubts hold you back. Write, plan, and go for your goals. Be persistent.
7. You can associate with likeminded people to partner, consult, and invest in your skills or ideas.
8. Even when you need help, you can be of help to others. Connect to a greater cause. There is no better pill to your pain than contribution. Whether it is money or service, do your bit.
9. Don’t expect special treatment because you are a woman. Business is not dependent on gender.
10. Marketing is a skill that all of us can learn. This is the most important skill required to learn. Sales will bring you profits. Provide great value with your products or services.