As a woman running your own business, there are some questions you just don’t need to be asked.
I stood in front of six venture capitalists and tried to deliver the best pitch I knew how. I discussed how I had calculated pre-money valuations, how my revenue streams would work and why I targeted this specific demographic. I stood there completely proud and the male investor looked to me and said “Well, that is all great… but what about when you get married and have babies?”
As a woman in 2014 who owns my own businesses, that’s a question I never expected to be asked. I work in a number of male dominated areas and I actually rarely come across the typical female bias that is often complained about.
Before that meeting, it had never occurred to me that a person would view my abilities as any different to my male colleagues even though magazines tell me they do.
This isn’t about complaining that it’s hard to be a woman in business, because quite frankly, I don’t think it is and I feel more than up for the challenge.
I am fortunate, I am capable and I will always move forward regardless of what someone else says. But this particular comment caught me off guard.
My initial reaction was ‘Ugh, that isn’t going to happen!’ but my second thought was, ‘So what if it did?’ Was the connotation that my commitment to my business is only there while I don’t have other ‘commitments’ in my life? Like running a business or consulting start-ups is just filling in time until I find my real calling as mother and cupcake maker, and can stop all this silly career stuff?
Is it really so hard to believe that I actually wake up every excited by the challenges that face me, even the most anxious ridden moments?
I couldn’t think of a more foreign mindset but less than being offended by archaic views, I was simply surprised at how forward and open he was in asking.
How can someone be so blasé about putting someone on the spot and asking such personal questions? What did he expect me to say anyway? ‘You got me!! Don’t invest in me, I am just passing the time playing business until I get bored and ‘over it’? That he should believe in me for now but one day when I am married we can put any business dealings behind us?
I have absolutely no idea what my future will hold, but one thing I know for sure, is I am equally committed to my personal growth in business, and as a woman in business, as I would be if I were a mother.
Is that sad? I don’t think so. I think it is far sadder to assume everyone is the same, that everyone wants the same things and we are just biding our time until our vision boards start kicking in.
There are some questions you simply do not need to be asked as a woman in business, and I think many of us have come across a few cringe worthy ones already.
How did I handle it when the VC threw that to me in front of a panel of businessmen? I let out an awkward sigh and said ‘Anyway, so far I have shown you our year-to-date achievements, let me discuss my strategies moving forward’. The rest of the room looked at him nervously and let me continue. Checkmate, sir.
About the Author
Alexandra Tselios is the Founder and Publisher of The Big Smoke, Australia’s newest opinion site. Alexandra has a diverse background in corporate, public and creative fields and is passionate about seeing Australian start-ups become commercially viable.