Why Women Need to Stop Asking for Permission to be Entrepreneurs

Why Women Need to Stop Asking for Permission to be Entrepreneurs

This past week had us at one of our most favorite events of the year - the annual WARF UpStart Alumni dinner. We’re graduates of this free entrepreneurship program for women and people of color, and the very first iterations of THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™ came to fruition while we drafted and revised our Business Model Canvas throughout this 10 week program.

UpStart was an important step into entrepreneurship for us.

Unplug: disconnect to really connect


It may be time to take the work day back.

I know many of us started solo careers so that we could shake the shackles of the 9 to 5, but our hyper-connected digital lives are creating a space for us to work anywhere, anytime... and it seems that might be exactly what we're doing. 

And of course, those of us working as solos are not the only ones feeling it.  The blur of the line for sending and replying to work email and posting to social media has all of us too often feeling the need to work all the time. And we all understand why. It seems that even when we try to put that darn smart device away, we wonder and worry what we might be losing out on if we're not checking in. And in doing this, we're actually forgetting what we are indeed losing out on - the life in front of us that very moment.


Was that what we wanted? 

Far too often our shift to being a solo leaves us feeling so dependent our on smart devices to stay 'connected', 'in the loop', and at the 'fore of everyone's mind' that we can forget that real connections come when we meet face-to-face, have conversations, extend ourselves, teach one another, learn, talk, listen, socialize, and make friends, and build community. 


Because how connected can we be to the people, places, and experiences that are happening right in front of us when we're constantly pulled away and looking at something else; literally or metaphorically. 

So in the spirit of building a work lifestyle that really works, here are few ways to consider unplugging with confidence in order to possibly connect authentically. 

  1. Set working hours. Do this for you and for your clients. It doesn't have to be Monday to Friday 9-to-5 if you don't want that, but being clear about when you're available will help you get comfortable leaving that voicemail or email until 'opening hours'. Letting your clients know when your shop opens and closes will also help them understand when to expect to connect. This clarity in communication will make everyone happier.
  2. Power-down to promote creation over consumption. There is plenty to consume.  Plenty. You'll do yourself and your business a favor if your 'creating hours' outweigh your 'consumption hours'.  Make sure and tip your scale toward creation. 
  3. Better manage your time online with smart tools. There are several online tools that can block access to specific websites for different time periods, like Selfcontrol, or that can completely disable your internet connection for a defined time period, like Freedom. Try them! 
  4. Take extended technology breaks and build them into your calendar. This might be for certain hours or certain days, and when you get brave enough this might even be for certain weeks. Planning these technology breaks helps you be more mindful and intentional about your 'tech breaks' and helps you build the discipline to step away from that phone. 
  5. Host unplugged events.  Go on, give it a try.  It's really okay if there are no social media photos to confirm all that fun at your event! 

There really is no one 'right way' to unplug from work, so do what makes sense to you. But try unplugging, if for no other reason than to know, that we can still connect even when we're disconnected.


TECH + THE Pay Gap Paradigm Shift

Something big is going down.  You can see the cracks and feel the reverberations. Change is in the air, as women use, make, create, and build technologies to power a pay gap paradigm shift.

Yep you heard it correctly. Women are harnessing technology to power their paychecks. 

Technology fashions shift sin Wage gap. -THE JILLS

Now, the stats are still lousy when it comes to pay equity.  According to the AAUW report, The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap, "in 2015, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 80 percent of what men were paid." The reports also suggest that progress toward pay parity is slow and that it has stalled in recent years suggesting equity may not be achieved until the year 2159!  The report also identifies larger gaps in pay for women of color and notes that as a women ages the pay gap grows. 


However, in her article for the Harvard Business Review, How Technology Can Help Close the Gender GapSallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, offers hope. Krawcheck deftly draws conclusions about how access to information (specifically information on companies' gender practices) , online social networks and communities, and value-driven decision-making are bridging the pay gap and leveling the playing field for professional women. She suggests there is a lot happening that is moving women in the right direction for pay equity. 

Good news for us all.  The timing, it seems is at a critical pace for women to know about, explore, and utilize the infrastructure and the ecosystems that are currently creating a much needed equalization of power in the workplace and beyond. 

Throughout the article, Krawcheck details numerous technology resources that women can access to help close the gender pay gap (which you should totally check out) and she identifies the growing number of options for women in the workforce as making significant impact on the gender pay gaps. She highlights the increasingly viable option of entrepreneurship for women and notes the importance of being able to hire on a project by project basis as a contributor to the success of startups and young companies. Krawcheck also predicts a very near future "in which professional women work for, buy from, and invest in companies that align with their values."  Vicki Saunders' organization SheEO is one that is already creating this future with their approach to investing - Radical Generosity - where up to 1000 women contribute $1,100 to create a million dollar fund to invest in women-led ventures. Nicole Yeary, also exemplifies these ideals with her Chicago-based company, Ms. Tech, whose member platform 'helps business women do tech, and tech women do business'. 

Women empowering women, does indeed seem to be a theme for bridging the pay gap.  

And this is, indeed, why we founded THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™. Because forming an ecosystem and shaping an infrastructure where women entrepreneurs can help women entrepreneurs lift and link each other, complete projects together, find community and get stuff done... well that has the potential to change everything.

JOIN THE JILLS. FIND A JILL. REFER A JILL. And start to power a cycle that spurs a workforce revolution and help us all work toward bridging the gender pay gap. 


Women in the Driver's Seat: The Jills 5

Quick 5 minute reads to keep you up to date on trends, tools, and tips for the solo professional.

women empowerment women equity

Sheila Herrling, SVP, Social Innovation at The Case Foundation, shares her insights, along with substantial data, to support what she sees as the biggest trends in social good - women, women, women. In this post, Sheila explores Women as Investors, Women as Consumers, and Women as Entrepreneurs to reveal why our economy, and our social fabric, depends on investing in women. 

Biggest Trend in Social Good? Women in the Driver's Seat | Sheila Herrling | The Case Foundation | January 17, 2017

Our Founding Mothers & the United State of Women

We Didn’t Set Out to Be Entrepreneurs. Why Steadying the Scales of Work-Life Balance Compelled Two Women to StartUp.

Megan and I did not necessarily set out to be entrepreneurs.

Megan build an amazing career in fashion and design, climbed the corporate ladder to executive positions in prestigious organizations, shaped brands that changed an industry, traveled the world, was granted patents, was featured on Oprah, made movies, and even dreamed up experiential cruise ship voyages. She earned a top salary, and was beloved by her staff and colleagues. Her nurturing and generous spirit extended through her leadership where she taught many, especially women, to fully embrace the ampersand and be powerful & feminine, direct & kind, humorous & focused, collaborative & independent.

As life changed, as it’s so apt to do, Megan did too.

Children grew, relocations happened, new interests developed. There was downsizing. And Megan found herself contemplative and eager for a brand new dress to wear, one that could bring her closer to a work-life balance so she could soak up more time with her husband, 3 teenaged children, and her extended family living in different states.  She eventually styled her own independent and successful brand strategy and design consultancy business, and after nearly 30 years of leading multimillion dollar projects and being 'traditionally' employed, Megan was now using her talents and skills so she could work when she wanted, how she wanted, and on projects that mattered to her. A flexible schedule with a variety of projects and hand-picked clients suited her as an encore career.

My career story was much more of an 'adapt and go' kind of set-up from the beginning. I loved to teach, I was good at it, and I used it to satisfy my taste for travel, spending the early part of my career in both the Middle East and Europe.  When I moved to the US from Canada, I found myself in Austin, TX where I decided to redirect my talents for teaching and writing to an educational publishing company instead of the classroom, and exchange my evenings of grading papers for night classes to earn my massage therapy license - something I’d wanted to do since high school.

But before long, I too, decided to step out of corporate and embark on what I know see as my portfolio career working as an independent: writing, teaching, and educating. Because besides being wearied by the corporate ladder that only one person can climb at a time, there also came pregnancies that were tougher than imagined, relocations, and superhero mom and dad manoeuvres to ensure one of us was always home with our boys - a portfolio career made sense to me.  There just wasn’t a name for it then.

Together, Megan and I have a very unique 360 degree view of work. We know both sides of being an independent and working in corporate. We see the possibilities, opportunities, and struggles of both.  We know stay-at-home parenting, we know being working mothers. We’ve lived re-entry and are always re-entering so we can routinely adjust the work + life equation. Megan shattered glass ceilings. I stayed off the ladder. We know the merits and downfalls of each.

And we know the world of work is changing. And so do you. You’ve seen the statistics; read the headlines. 70% of us will work freelance in the next 10 years.  Lifetime employment is over. The gig economy is the new economy.  It’s a Freelance Nation. Our work will come from our alliances, not recruiters, and not employers.

So no, we didn’t necessarily set out to be entrepreneurs.

But after nearly 30 combined years of trying to steady the scales of work-life balance, we’re compelled to be. 

We’re turning directly to the problems felt by both the independents and the hiring clients in this gig economy and creating a solution.  And it is our combined 360 degree view, and our lifetime of experiences that make us uniquely qualified to take on the challenge. We’ve lived the problems, see a path to a solution,  and know it’s time for us to step up and lead a workforce revolution.

Join us on our journey.  

Because we know in our core that when women come together,  link arms, and lift each other up we have the power to change everything.


How is the Gig Economy Going to Work? And Be Sustainable.

Although the statistics are hard to pin down precisely, the Freelancers Union tells us approximately 34% of the current US workforce is ‘freelance’ - equating to 54 million people in the United States. With estimates from the likes of Robin Chase and Fast Company suggesting that in the next 20 years those independent workers will rise to 70-80% of us. Liz Ryan reports in a recent Forbes article that we need to  “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee. Employment is Over”.  And in a LinkedIn post, Reid Hoffman, agrees that ‘lifetime employment might be over”, and offers that “lifetime relationship remains ideal” suggesting that our work will come from our alliances.


It likely means that you and your partner and your friend and your brother and your sisters will be working on a contract by contract, project by project basis consulting, creating, and collaborating with each other, with previous colleagues, with new startups, with anchor businesses.  It means you’ll be marketing yourself, operating your own business, working from spaces you chose, and hunting up your own work.  You will be empowered to carve your career how you will like. It means you will be responsible for your own success.


With this ‘new’ economy on the brink of exploding, one has to wonder, how exactly is this going to work?  And be sustainable.


Companies like Uber,  Fivver and TaskRabbit, are evidence of a ‘gig’ economy and are built on leveraging excess capacity showing us how the sharing economy can and does make our lives more efficient and possibly more profitable. But we cannot ignore that  Uber is routinely under scrutiny for under or de-valuing the independent workers, and Mattermark suggest that the company itself is not profitable. Fivver operates on the premise that you can get work ‘done’ for just five bucks, and TaskRabbit focuses on easing the daily tasks in your life like cleaning your house, fixing your repairs, and completing your grocery, laundry and mail deliveries - none of which seems to fit a professional model for being ‘employed’. Add in campaigns like that of the Freelancers Union, which is blogging and tweeting that #FreelanceIsntFree as they create the world’s longest invoice of unpaid bills, and it can make stepping into the world of independents seem rather daunting.


Yet there are others recognizing where this economy could go and all that it has to offer. In her June article How the Gig Economy Could Save Capitalism, Rana Foroohar begins to explore new directions for the gig economy and offers up the potential benefits of a shift from big employee/employer systems to smaller more entrepreneurial system. Her article considers the future of what she describes as community based capitalism and suggests the need for new thinking on labor laws, regulatory systems, and crowd-based capitalism. Faisal Hoque reminds us of the “value of small” in his Fast Company article while painting the global picture of the gig economy and describing the future of work as one where we can work how we actually want to work. He sees the future of a robust freelance economy where both independents and companies gain mutually and beneficially.


The world of work is clearly changing and there is a growing need to establish the necessary infrastructure to support this new workforce . As we move through this transition, where almost half of us will work as solo professionals in the next 10 years, let us be thoughtful and intentional in how, as independents, we can lead this new economy in ways that are positive and profitable and most importantly sustainable for us all.


Quick 5 minute reads to keep you up to date on trends, tools, and tips for the solo professional.

Hootsuite CEO, Ryan Holmes offers up some smart commentary on the growing workforce trend of building portfolio careers and cross functional teams to retain and engage great employees. The article offers some food for thought for solo professionals and how they might engage with companies on new HR approaches.

Why I Started Training Employees to Leave Their Job | Fast Company | August 25th, 2016

Women Entrepreneurs Helping Women Entrepreneurs

In so many ways, THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™ was co-founded in celebration of women and their constant deftness at reconfiguring the work-life equation. We’re women, and our personal and professional lives have morphed so many times, and in so many directions, as our families changed, our children grew, our mother’s needed us, and as we needed our mothers. And in all the inventing and reinventing, and keeping to our core and leaning in, we have loved all its iterations. And it was from these experiences that we knew we wanted to create a platform where all women were empowered to work when they wanted, how they wanted, on their terms, and on projects that made sense to them. We didn’t necessarily set out to be entrepreneurs, but we found ourselves compelled to do what seemed right for many women.

Having established portfolio careers ourselves to try and find the balance and flexibility we sought in our own lives, we decided to turn directly into the problems we encountered in our pursuit. Using our experiences both in corporate and as independent consultants, we noticed two clear and synergists problems:

  1. Companies had a growing need to hire highly specialized consultants, freelancers and independent contractors in an on-demand, a la carte capacity, and;

  2. Many talented and highly qualified women who craved and created flexible work experiences were fragmented and ‘off radar’ to these hiring clients.

Both the independents and the companies alike, lacked efficient and effective ways to seek and find each other. For us, it was time to bridge the gap between companies and consultants and aggregate a community of independents into a one-stop shop for diverse on-demand talent. The emerging gig economy fueled our fire, as did the importantly growing voices of women demanding pay equity, leadership experiences, and work flexibility.

And THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™ was born - a community-driven platform to support and promote women entrepreneurs, consultants, freelancers, scientists, attorneys, designers and engineers and to connect businesses to a highly qualified on-demand talent pool.

Much like the way Etsy carved a community from the big-box shop of Ebay, so too does THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™ carve a niche for women in the landscape of the freelance hiring marketplace, without job-bidding, or brokering or taking fees for work engagements. Instead THE JILLS are incentivized to join to gain community, collaborative partnerships, and large-scale marketing exposure.   

As we embark on our entrepreneurial journey, we recognized the opportunity this new economy is creating, and we’re audacious enough to believe that women can lead it.

Join our journey and let’s get started. If we want to lead in this new working space, we must first link arms, lift each other up, and walk the path together so we can get out in front.


we are the founders of THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™ and we are on a mission to work smarter, live fuller & lift others who wish to do to the same. 

After our corporate 9-5 gigs became more grind than growth, we were convinced there was a better way to do work, find work, and get work done. We knew you could have an independent business and still feel professionally connected. We felt sure it was possible to feed our brains & fuel our hearts, without sapping our souls, without missing out on life's special moments….And still stay busy. And still make a living, while keeping a life. 

Naive? Utopia? Nope.

We're doing it here at THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES ™. Join our journey. 

Corinne and Megan