You Can't Plan When Entrepreneurship Will Fit In

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We had five amazing women lead teams slated to be in the Spring 2013 class, more than we've ever had, then one by one they started to drop or defer like flies. It struck me that the male participants, many of whom had the same conflicts and decisions to make, took the risk and leveraged the opportunity. By Angela Benton (Founder & CEO, NewME Accelerator)

The topic of women "leaning in" regarding their careers has been a hot topic as of late. A lot of really good articles have been written about this issue in general, and as a woman and a mother, I relate to and agree with much of what has been said. The lack of female founders running startups is just another reminder how much woman need to take that leap, risk, lean, jump... Whatever you want to call it, and get in the game.

Take a look at this picture below. It's the latest round of Founders in NewME Accelerators spring 2013 class. It's all men. In case you don't have background on NewME, which I'm the Founder and CEO of, it's a 12-week residential program based in San Francisco. We focus specifically on founders that are underrepresented in the technology industry; Blacks, Latinos and women. In the past, we've done a pretty good job recruiting great women founders for our classes.

In the current cycle, we had five amazing women lead teams slated to be in the Spring 2013 class, more than we've ever had, then one by one they started to drop or defer like flies. The reasons ranged from family obligations to conflicting travel for a portion of the program. It struck me that the male participants, many of whom had the same conflicts and decisions to make, took the risk and leveraged the opportunity.

We really have to change our mindset and way of thinking when it comes to taking risks. Entrepreneurship is one of the biggest risks one can make, it's hard as hell, time consuming to say the least, and doesn't care about your personal plans. That said it can be easy to see how entrepreneurship might not fit in. One of the biggest mistakes we make as women is trying to make plans for how things will fit in our lives. We plan marriages, babies, and even our careers. Coincidentally entrepreneurship is one of those things you can't really plan. Literally anything can happen on any given day. Last year I wrote on Women 2.0 about organized chaos. It's how I balance my life as an entrepreneur and single mom who also happens to have some pretty ambitious goals.

Let's start to get to the solution and how we fix this for women. I'm thinking about the moms who think they might not be able to balance a new venture and family, the women where the possibility of a passion turning into a business isn't part of their plan, and honestly the young women who just don't see entrepreneurship as an option (yet). How do we solve for those use cases?

If you are ambitious and have a great startup (or even an idea for that matter), I'd love to see how we can make this work. I'm willing to step up to the plate and support by:

  • Women located in DC can attend our 3-night Popup Accelerator for free March 1-3, 2013. Email me for the code.
  • Starting an "Executive" program of NewME, similar to Executive MBA programs. Though still intense, it will primarily take place on evenings during the week. Women in the Bay Area interested in joining this, please email me to discuss.

Lets do this! Frankly, though I'm excited to work with the latest round of Founders, I don't want to be the only woman in the room. It's unsettling, wrong, and I don't want to work out of an office like that every day. I'm only one person and can only meet you half way.

We need brave women to "lean in" and step up to the plate.

Women 2.0 readers: Do you think women need to "lean in" to entrepreneurship more? How can we create a new model of entrepreneurship that works for women?

Angela BentonAbout the guest blogger: Angela Benton is the Founder and CEO of NewME Accelerator, a technology startup accelerator for Black, Female, and Latino startup founders. She recently launched NewME Community which serves as a way for local minority entrepreneurs across the country to gather, learn, network, and share with each other. You can learn more about her at about.me/angelabenton. Follow her on Twitter at @abenton.