By Emily D. Tisdale
Diversity is an asset for an entrepreneur, but it often starts with feeling like the “other.”
Most business owners become entrepreneurs because they’re driven to be different — to provide services differently, to have a different quality of life and more. The problem with “different” is that it usually starts with the perception that you’re outside of the norm.
If you’re trying to start your own business, the pain of exclusion can be a discouraging roadblock to your success.
But entrepreneurship is ideal for those who are “different”! In fact, entrepreneurs often delight in the fact that there’s much more diversity than they initially thought.
Lose the labels
The traditional labels we use to define “diversity” no longer apply in the world of entrepreneurship. Each entrepreneur is unique — and the routes for entry into business ownership are more inclusive than ever before.
Consider the traditional issue of the workforce gender gap.
While most entrepreneurs today are men, current trends show that more and more women are pursuing entrepreneurship. Something as basic as being male or female in the workplace is no longer relevant for an entrepreneur.
By nature of their independence, entrepreneurs themselves set the cultural and financial norms for their own ventures.
These days, you’re going to encounter a variety of entrepreneurs. Some are single; some are married. Some have kids; some don’t. Some work from home; others work in an office. Some aspire to stay small; others want a global enterprise.
And thanks to the current technology, more people can pursue entrepreneurship today in ways never available before.
Undeniably, in the real world, diversity is amplified among entrepreneurs.
Pitch the cookie-cutter mindset
If you don’t feel a sense of inclusion within the corporate world, chances are you’ll choose entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship is a perfect fit for minds that stretch outside the box and for leaders who long for a dream fulfilled. It’s meant to be a solution manifested by one individual’s dream.
But entrepreneurship was never supposed to be a one-size-fits-all endeavor. So why do we try to make it a cookie-cutter experience?
The beauty of entrepreneurship today is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. We get to make the journey our own, tossing out the “this is how we’ve always done it” mindset.
By entering the world of entrepreneurs as a business owner yourself, you “join the club.” You’re including yourself in the diverse community of business owners fueling their dreams with action. You’re becoming part of the community.
Support your peers
Independence is magnetic, and the autonomy of business ownership is a powerful draw for those eager to transform vision to reality.
As an entrepreneur, you can choose to do business with anyone. You have the ability to support small, and minority, business owners — and your support strengthens them to become powerful themselves.
Be diverse in how you support other businesses. Don’t automatically go for a big name just because you know the brand. Instead, explore opportunities to work with organizations that are local to your community. Think about how you can support more businesses like yours.
Most importantly, support these businesses with your actions and dollars, both personally and professionally. Your support of other entrepreneurs will create a ripple effect of growth within the entrepreneurial community.
Business owners are a diverse community of thinkers, doers, dreamers and planners. It takes all kinds of different people to make entrepreneurship happen, and the growth of the field illustrates its inclusiveness for people who aspire to independence in business.
And that’s a great way to measure progress in our communities and our economy.
Emily Tisdale is the founder of LEAP For Women, an online community founded in Fishers, Indiana, for woman-to-woman business networking. Learn more at leapforwomen.com.