I get asked a lot what I do. In fact just last Friday morning I was asked, Michelle, what is it exactly that you do? I don’t think it is that unusual these days to not have a straight answer! The fact is… I ALSO do lots of things – and so do most female entrepreneurs I know.
For International Womens Day this year, f:entrepreneur hosted a fabulous breakfast for 25 incredible people working in the world of empowering female entrepreneurs. And you know that bit when you go round the table introducing yourself that all round tables have and can take the whole morning…. Well the thing said most was I ALSO. This was no round robin of run of the mill CVs, this was a table of incredible experience, courage, hard work and innovation. And it made us think – is this a growing trend? Are we moving from the single job or portfolio career to a world where it is ok to do many things, often interconnecting, at the same time across your work and personal spectrum – and be passionate about them all? I think it is something to be celebrated.
Many entrepreneurs are doing a myriad of things that make up their complicated and interwoven lives, with a blurring of the lines between work and personal, and between paid and voluntary work. The same passion goes into each and the experience in each enriches the rest.
For me, at the heart of it I am a small business campaigner. I started that whilst running my own small consultancy business. Then I ALSO ran a national campaign – Small Business Saturday. I also went on to work with the government and Lord Young on their Enterprise for All work. I ALSO launched new campaigns such as Do It Digital – to get small businesses engaging with digital more, an acute challenge holding many small businesses back. I ALSO launched The Small Awards to celebrate the smallest and the greatest of business. I sit on six advisory boards, advise the government on small business policy and I was recently appointed Chair of the Small Business Charter.
And of course I ALSO run this here campaign, f:entrepreneur, set up to celebrate and promote the fabulous things done by female entrepreneurs.
I think that to really celebrate them, we need to recognise not just their core business, but everything they do around it. From mentoring younger or less experienced entrepreneurs, to building charities, supporting their families and wider communities, promoting entrepreneurship and business skills, technical skills and inter-community support – the breadth of impact of these incredible women is phenomenal.
We will be spending some time this year highlighting – bringing to the surface, shining a light and putting on a stage! – these fabulous women who ALSO do many many things. Please do join us in recognising their achievements and I hope that they inspire you to both reach for more and recognise how much you are already doing – and give yourself the incredible credit you deserve.
If you find yourself at an event and in your introduction saying I ALSO, then yes, we are talking about you. And I have a feeling that is all of you.
Michelle Ovens MBE is Director of peak b, the campaigning company, f:entrepreneur and Small Business Saturday.