Nur-E Farhana Rahman: Launching Your Business
by Kylie Kendall
“I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
Launching a business comes with a lot of late nights and sacrificed weekends, juggling a full-time job while dreaming about doing what you really want to do. Nur-E Farhana Rahman knows this stage all too well.
“There was a point where Knotty Gal overlapped somewhat with my consulting job and I was working at my consulting job from 8:30 in the morning to 10, 11 at night doing Knotty Gal til 3 in the morning,” she says, “and there are definitely sacrifices when it comes to sleep and sanity and social life, and all those things, but for me it has absolutely been worth it.”
Eventually, she made the leap. She now runs a growing social enterprise called Knotty Gal, which sells handmade jewelry to support a cause close to Nur-E’s heart: a girl’s school in Bangladesh founded by her great-grandfather in 1962.
Nur-E is one of 1,200 women per day breaking into the world of entrepreneurship — that rate is higher than the national average, and a lot higher than the average of 740 women-owned start-up launches per day in 2013.
And women-owned businesses are a force. They generate more than $1.4 trillion in revenue and hire more than 7.8 million people in the United States, according to an American Express study.
What’s more, women of color now run a third of all women-owned businesses, and they’re growing in number faster than the average. From 2007 to 2012, White women-owned businesses increased in number by 10.1 percent, while Asian women-owned companies increased by 44.3 percent, Black women-owned by 67.5 percent, and Hispanic women-owned by 87.5 percent.
“Women-owned businesses are key contributors to the post-recession recovery,” said Lisette Bernstein, Vice President at American Express OPEN in a statement.
So why is it that women are quitting their day jobs to start their own businesses at higher rates than men are?
In decades past, entrepreneurship was a way to circumvent gendered hiring strategies that often excluded women from the traditional workforce — or at the very least, underpaid them.
In 1998, female-headed households where the woman ran her own business brought in twice as much income as those without a business, and had an average net worth of almost six times their counterparts.
Studies done at the time showed that women’s main motivations for leaving the corporate world for entrepreneurship were “the desire for challenge and self-determination and the desire to balance family and work responsibilities.”
Almost 20 years later, while things like family responsibilities are certainly still major concerns for many women, women like Nur-E are starting businesses moreso for the challenge and the opportunity for self-determination.
“For me, (the driving factor) has absolutely been to be able to do what I’m passionate about, what I care about,” she says. “In my previous jobs I never felt that way. I felt like, ok, what purpose is this serving? Yes, I’ll sit in these meetings and put this deck together and work on this spreadsheet but to what end? Are we helping anyone? Are we doing anything special or meaningful or worthwhile? And the answer was no.”
A 2015 study by New Zealand insurance company AMP found that women are more likely than men are to be successful at “chasing their dreams” — with 95 percent of women surveyed finding success in their dream industries versus 80 percent of men. Women are also more likely to pursue a dream — like launching a business — in the first place than men are, at 76 percent versus 71 percent in men.
And statistically, more women are willing to take the kind of calculated risk necessary for starting a business. Eighty-seven percent of women surveyed by Centre for Entrepreneurs saw themselves as financial risk-takers, compared to 73 percent of men. Eighty percent of women said they saw opportunity where others saw risk, while only 67 percent of men said the same.
But how do you know when it’s time to quit your day job? In reality, you might never feel 100 percent ready, but Nur-E says it comes when you realize your current situation won’t work anymore, and you trust your gut to guide you in the right direction.
“I couldn’t imagine doing anything else now that I’ve gotten this taste of what it’s like to be my own boss and set my own schedule and figure out what tasks I need to work on,” Nur-E says. “It’s addicting.”
Women like Nur-E have special and meaningful and worthwhile things to contribute to our world and our economy. They’re finding 1,200 new ways to do so every single day.
So what about you?
Have you ever thought about chasing your dream-job? What unique and meaningful ways would you (or do you) contribute to our economy? Comment below or join the conversation in the official Dream, Girl facebook group.