With Halloween approaching, I have already begun preparing my masks and costume ideas. For every party and every occasion, I’ll need an appropriate mask and cloak; one that will mark the event with the right amount of appeal without distastefully revealing too much of myself. Oh Halloween, you elusive beacon of festivity, you.
Being a woman small business owner…except, my masks are worn every day. As a woman who owns a business in contemporary American society, there are certain masks I wear for every occasion, but rarely am I likely to be seen without one.
At times, being a woman small business owner means being a ghost, sans the white flat sheet and eye holes. It means making your presence felt and seen, yet not heard (such occasions may be at Planning Commission and City Council meetings regarding pertinent small business legislation).
Other times, being a woman small business owner means being a witch. Making executive decisions that may upset your employees, but knowing that doing so will be for the greater good of the company…all while maintaining that eerie, sultry feminine mystique. To gracefully spew bitter coldness, when to be warm and gentle and mild would be a disservice to the mission of the business.
Occasionally it means carrying around a wooden dagger and a clove of garlic to ward off the evil vampires of competitors, doubters, and those out to see you fail. Unfortunately, many women have to work twice as hard to get half as far (especially in the brewing and beverage industry or so it has been my experience). There are predators out there in the dark nightly world of business, waiting to drain the life blood out of your entrepreneurial endeavors.
Each of these masks carries their own weight and dynamic, and the beauty of being a woman small business owner is (I believe) an inherent ability to balance and navigate between each of them with a poise and grace that cannot necessarily be mastered by our male counterparts. Wearing the right mask means being brave when all you want to really do is run home crying. It means being stern and blunt when what you really want to do is hug your staffer and say ‘this hurts me just as much as it hurts you’. It means being silent and listening, when you really want to scream ‘are you kidding me? Do you seriously believe you can get away with this?’
In closing, I part with you with this call to action: whenever you see a woman small business owner at work, admire her grace. Try to learn a lesson from the mask she’s wearing.