Women Entrepreneurs: What’s Keeping You Up at Night?

How do women entrepreneurs feel about their businesses, their prospects and themselves? The American College recently surveyed some 800 entrepreneurial women, in business for a minimum of three years, about their financial goals, stress levels, and optimism regarding their businesses work/life balance. In other words, what issues kept these entrepreneurs up at night?

awake at night

Here’s what they found—see where you fit in:

  • Sleeping Soundly: Thirty one percent of the respondents say being an entrepreneur has met their expectations. They enjoy a good work/life balance and are successfully managing the financial aspects of their businesses. They are confident about their present financial stability and feel they have planned well for the future. This group had the highest business revenues of all the women surveyed.
  • Dreaming About the Future: Thirty three percent of the entrepreneurs report their businesses are in a moderate or stable stage of growth. They have a good work/life balance with enough time for family and friends.  While not as high in terms of revenues as the Sleeping Soundly group, this category plans to grow their businesses, maintain financial stability and transition to retirement. To reach these goals, they are comfortable taking risks.
  • Sleeping With One Eye Open: Sixteen percent of respondents fell into this category, which had the lowest reported business revenue and the fewest employees. This group was not focused on or planning for future events such as retiring or transitioning the business to family members. However, these business owners are very satisfied with their work/life balance and feel that their businesses meet their expectations. It’s possible (although the survey didn’t include this) that these women had lower expectations for their businesses, such as working part-time or starting them primarily to gain work-life balance or as a job replacement.
  • Tossing and Turning: Here’s where the results get worrisome. Fifteen percent of study participants are “extremely stressed” by business ownership. They say being a business owner is not what they expected; they worry about almost every aspect of owning a business. They report a lack of work/life balance and overwhelmingly feel that their businesses take away from important time with family and friends.

If you fall into this last category, what can you do? First, I suggest it’s time to sit down and re-evaluate what you want from your business. Think back to what led you to start a business in the first place. Did you think you’d have more time for your family or personal life? I’m sorry, but unless you’ve started a part-time business, that’s not likely to be the case. Did you need to replace income from losing a job? Did you want to turn a hobby or interest into a money-maker?

Next, determine the specific factors behind your dissatisfaction. What’s keeping you up at night? Do you love what you’re doing, but you’re worried because your business isn’t making enough money? List the duties that are part of your business, the ones you like, and the ones you dread. Maybe you love working behind the counter at your retail store but hate doing the books, leading to late tax payments, fines and penalties.

Finally, figure out what needs to change. If you’re truly not cut out to be your own boss (and not all of us are), perhaps you need to look for a job. If you’re going it alone and want support, perhaps taking on a business partner is the answer. Or if you’re simply feeling overwhelmed by roles you’re not comfortable in, figure out how to outsource the burden (to an employee, virtual assistant, partner, etc.).

You’ll be surprised how making a few simple changes can rekindle your passion for your business—and how much more soundly you’ll sleep at night.

Can’t Sleep Photo via Shutterstock


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

3 Reactions
  1. Is there a comparable study out there that measures men’s attitudes about their businesses? I would be particularly interested to know if the last group (those who are super stressed) is larger or smaller for men.

  2. Questions: What percent of these women are single or married? And in either case are there children involved? How is divorce doing amongst these women? If married, how successful are their husbands? Is it the fact of life that, the traditional Biblical American home is fast becoming a thing of the past where yearly up to million of children become homeless! Materialism is now having Americans on a leash like!