By Deb DeFreeuw, President – Force 5
This is a very deep and challenging topic – I have the typical stories of being the only female at a boardroom table full of men, being paid less for the same job as a man in the same role, etc. Many women have experienced this – some more than others. But to me, having a woman-owned business is about the journey. What brought me here, and who helped along the way. The struggles are real, but in today’s COVID world, I tend to concentrate on my blessings, and focus on the ways that I have received support from others in my life and in my business.
First, my parents raised me to believe “I could do anything I wanted to do.” I believed them, so that was my outlook and expectation for myself. I was fortunate to have that kind of support as I grew up; I know not all of us (female or male) can say that. I was encouraged, never coddled, and given the belief that all things are possible.
The next big supporter I need to recognize is my now business partner, David Morgan. From the very beginning, even before we merged our companies, he believed in me and helped me find faith in myself when it was in short supply. I had doubts from time to time and dealt with imposter syndrome, thinking I knew less than I did. David would gently remind me that I knew more than I gave myself credit for and if I didn’t know about something – just dig in and figure it out. David still has to remind me of these same things, but a lot less often.
Drew McClellan and all of my agency affiliate friends through the AMI+ organization have provided, and continue to provide, another important pillar in my business life. When we gather for our semi-annual meetings it is just people in business helping each other with their challenges. One of the important traits of our particular group is that we accept each other as we are, sometimes we are up, sometimes down – but all cheering each other on.
Being a woman-owned business has its challenges – but most worthwhile things do. Is it always fair? Nope, but if you surround yourself with the right people and apply some grit, anything is possible. I still believe that.