In January of this year Barclays investment bank produced a report showing that women entrepreneurs out-earn their male counterparts by a whopping 14%. Now if we could drill down further in to 'business women' and 'hobbyists with a sewing machine' I think we'd start to see some startling and empowering figures.
Everyone over the age of 25 knows that passion fizzles leaving you empty-handed and filled with cheap regrets. As a bone fide grown-up I find myself wincing every time I hear that phrase "follow your passion," when aimed at the female entrepreneurial demographic as though it's a tried and trusted business plan. It feels like just another way of keeping us women in our place, by encouraging women to "follow their passion" we end up with a plethora of women chasing business dreams and ambitions through the medium of cupcakes and "gorgeous, tasteful, little stylish little gorgeous things" as the great Edina Monsoon once stated.
Touted to and perpetuated by women there are plenty still championing this destructive mantra. Do what you love and the money will follow we're told. It's of the same genre of platitudes dished out to financially struggling women who are told "babies need only love". We're told that as women "love will provide" and warmth, kindness and charity will conquer all. Ever tried paying the mortgage by hugging your bank manager?
Men and women appear to have very different definitions of business success and men are not patronised in this manner of turning profits from hobbies, neither do they set out for 'pin money'. I want to know why women are perpetually falling for this myth and why we have a situation where women are often reluctant to raise the issue of money, being seen as unfeminine, vulgar, unpalatable and morally reprehensible to ask for or demand cold, hard cash.
Had Lord Sugar been born a girl, The Apprentice might've been a very different show. "Follow your passion babes - you deserve it" and we'd see 12 ambitious young knitters, bakers and producers of vintage bunting battling it out to launch an Etsy store. Perhaps aged 15 and a half he'd have confided to his friends that he wanted to make his own fortune and put his stamp on the world. Being supportive and caring for Alan's ambitions, 16-year-old Dave would've given him the benefit of his worldly wisdom; "follow your dreams mate, follow your passion" - and so young master Alan would've run a stall on Brick Lane selling handmade footballs - gorgeous darling, gorgeous!
When I look at one of the UK businesswomen I most admire, it's Hilary Devey - Hilary, who built a haulage company from scratch. Do you suppose she woke one morning and felt passionate for lorries, tanks of diesel and a few hours snatched sleep at a motorway service-station? Perhaps her knees knocked with unbridled lust each and every time an Eddie Stobart truck rolled past. I think not, I think what Hilary did was seize an opportunity to make money and her passion was for developing business. What drove Hilary? Was it being a single mother wanting to be able to put a roof over her son's head and pay the bills? Are you more driven if you're expected to provide? Is this why men don't fall for making pin money?
Business profits cover your mortgage, pay for holidays and a business will ensure you can afford your heating bill next year. When you run a profitable enterprise you have time and money to indulge in your actual passions and desires. Your job should of course be enjoyable, but it's wholly unrealistic to expect it to fill your soul each and every moment of each and every working day. If you're trying to squeeze cash from a hobby then it's going to put unnecessary stress and pressure on what was once your relief and pleasure. Trying to make money from pleasure is a sure-fire way to quickly remove joy and will leave the entrepreneur confused, disenchanted and distrusting, embarrassed at their failure and inability to have fulfilled the promise of making money from "passion".
The simple truth is that with cold, hard cash you can pursue both your actual hobbies (passions) and altruism. So put down your pinnys and build your enterprise, the future is yours for the taking so don't insult yourself by trying to build an empire from your grown-up version of a colouring-in book!