Letters to the Editor

Why women make better entrepreneurs than men

The trait that helped Uber founder Travis Kalanick achieve such extreme success — his ego, his hubris, his drive — is what helped bring him down.
The trait that helped Uber founder Travis Kalanick achieve such extreme success — his ego, his hubris, his drive — is what helped bring him down. NYT

The irony of the “resignation” of Uber founder Travis Kalanick is rich: The trait that helped him achieve such extreme success — his ego, his hubris, his drive — is what helped bring him down.

He follows in the footsteps of American Apparel’s Dov Charney and Lululemon’s Chip Wilson — hugely successful businessmen who lost sight of their vision and went down some very self-destructive paths.

I’m all for a healthy ego. It’s a vital part of the entrepreneurial spirit. But at some point, ego became a hindrance. It became “me” before their companies.

And this is what, I believe, sets the female entrepreneur apart from her male counterpart, and actually gives her the edge.

Research has long suggested that men are generally more narcissistic than women — more entitled and self-indulgent. Traits that don’t bode well for a healthy business.

WrayBeaVert
Bea Wray . .

Meanwhile, the Harvard Business Review says women are rated better than men as leaders, and not just for the expected reasons — women’s nurturing skills, such as developing others and building relationships. Female leaders were rated better on all levels of business success, including problem analysis and solving, innovation and initiative, all key qualities for successful entrepreneurs.

South Carolina has a history of nurturing female entrepreneurs, beginning with Elizabeth Timothy, who, as editor-publisher of the South Carolina Gazette in 1739, became America’s first female newspaper owner, editor and publisher.

Today, South Carolina is the sixth fastest-growing state for female-owned businesses, according to American Express. And just a few years back, Inc. magazine named three S.C. women among the top 13 female entrepreneurs in America.

We have Columbia’s South Carolina Women’s Business Center, the S.C. Women’s Entrepreneurial Network at Columbia College, Women Entrepreneurs of Charleston and many more local and regional organizations dedicated to empowering established and aspiring female entrepreneurs.

There are successful entrepreneurs on both sides of the XY chromosome divide, but I’m proud to be on this side — with my ego in check.

Bea Wray

Chair of Entrepreneurship Practice, Advantage Media/ForbesBooks

Charleston

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