Women in Vermont are exercising more control over their economic lives than ever before. A study of the Institute for Women's Policy Research ranks Vermont's women 4th in the country in having achieved "economic autonomy." This poll looks at factors related to our ability to act independently and to exercise choice and control over our lives - including college education, health insurance, income level and business ownership - one of the main topics of the conference today.
Women have been leading the way into the 21st century as entrepreneurs. Today there are almost 9.1 million women owned businesses in the United States. This is almost 40% of all businesses. And this is a good thing. With half of all Vermont women in the workforce, and half of them with children under the age of 18, it is no wonder that studies find that women owned businesses are more likely to offer flex time and other family oriented benefits. In fact, a recent study found that 80% of the women polled would exchange a job with more pay for one that offered time oriented benefits like family leave, flexible hours and help with child care.
But for those of you thinking of starting a business statistics are just numbers. It is frightening starting something new - taking a personal and financial risk. Of course, "going for it" is not the same as being reckless and foolhardy. It takes discipline and a plan to start something new like a business - and there is no guarantee of success. Sometimes it is hard to make a decision.
I know from personal experience how scary it is to try something new - something totally different than what I had been doing. The decision to start a career in politics was a hard one - and many people told me it would be impossible to succeed. But one thing I knew for certain is that if I did not try I would definitely not succeed. The same thing goes for starting a business. If you do not try, you will not achieve your dreams.
You also don't do something like starting a political career or a new business alone. You find partners, allies, mentors. This conference is all about helping you to begin to make these connections. Take advantage of it. Spend the day talking to people - network - ask for help.
The thing about human beings when we are going through change is we feel we are the only one who has ever felt this way - or had a particular experience- what you learn as you get older is that a lot of people have gone through exactly the same thing as you have - and facts don't lie -statistics show that taking the business risk has worked for a lot of women. It can work for you. Good luck and have a great day!
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