What does a corporate woman know about entrepreneurship?

What does a corporate woman know about entrepreneurship?


I’ve been a corporate woman for more than 25 years. I had the opportunity to travel across the world, to be an expat, to lead hundreds of professionals with different levels of seniority – but like many other people, my successful corporate life ended with the COVID19 pandemic.

by Grisell Sordo

At the beginning of 2020, I experienced the perfect storm: I was unemployed, “expensive” for the market, almost 50 years old, and a woman. I was planted at the intersectionality of gender and age.

For those who haven’t heard that word before, the Oxford Dictionary defines intersectionality as “the network of connections between social categories such as race, class and gender, especially when this may result in additional disadvantage or discrimination”.

You cannot imagine how many first-hand stereotypes I experienced. Nevertheless, I tried hard to find a new job, but it seemed like my future was written, and I needed to change my career path. The answer seemed easy: it was time to start my own business.

But, what did this corporate woman know about entrepreneurship? Not much, in truth.

I had nothing more than an idea running across my mind for a while: to share my corporate life experience with more women. I knew the challenges and opportunities women were – and still are – facing in the workplace. I knew this was making it far more difficult and slower to climb to executive positions than men, and I was ready to share my experience with younger, talented women.

I researched my idea with promising results, and I decided to open my own consultancy firm. I named myself as a Gender & Diversity Consultant / Executive Women’s Counselor.

That’s where the jump from being a boss to be a business owner started, and very soon I realized that I was facing female-entrepreneurship challenges on my journey. Specifically:
  • I was a solopreneur, building my business on my own and responsible for its success or failure; men tend more to “associate” with partners.
  • I experienced “Impostor Syndrome,” lacking confidence in my qualifications.
  • I had limited access to funding.
  • I was battling perfectionism – waiting to have the perfect service, the perfect pricing, the perfect everything.
  • I was struggling to be taken seriously, particularly in a “macho” country environment in Mexico, and trying to sell “female executive empowerment.”
  • I had difficulty balancing my business and family life – the “freedom of entrepreneurship” felt like a myth
  • I had hardship in expanding my network.

I questioned everything. What does a corporate woman know about entrepreneurship?

Am I ready to start from scratch at almost 50 years of age? I am going to be able to do pretty much everything by myself (at least at the beginning)? Can I survive with a limited budget? Can I catch up and reskill? Did I have the inner strength of an entrepreneur? Can I live without a six figure salary?

And the answers were Yes for all of them. And please note – nobody goes into business with a guarantee of success!

Transitioning from corporate to entrepreneurship can be a scary prospect as a working woman. Here’s how I approached it:
  • Walk the talk. I worked on my mindset and self-confidence, I fought the negative voices in my head telling me that I needed to acquire an overwhelming number of competencies before being secure in my entrepreneurial abilities.
  • Built a plan. I was specific and used my planning skills previously used on other brands and companies as an employee.
  • I trusted my path, my pace, and my process. I threw out the “rule book,” and I started to be more flexible, open-minded and creative.

I’ve been operating for almost two years with promising results, I surpassed my financial targets and my branding/positioning objectives, significantly expanded my network, and started to build a reputation; but most of all I am happy, proud of myself, motivated, and highly energized, something that I lost many years ago in my corporate life. What else could I ask for?

While it’s true that women are faced with specific gender-based hurdles, and that can be frustrating enough to want to quit, none of these are/were strong enough to abandon my dream.

Indeed, as a corporate woman, I may have little or no entrepreneurship experience, but it is also true that I know about striving for results. If you are in a similar situation, I say go for it, and stay true to yourself and your passion!

About the author

Grisell Sordo is a senior-level executive with a corporate career of over 25 years.

She knows the challenges, and, opportunities women are facing in the workplace making it far more difficult to climb to executive positions.

She works with female leaders to enable them to get their seats at the table by boosting confidence, competence, and connections, and a variety of companies to develop strategies to increase female engagement, and retention.



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