Women Entrepreneurs Forgoing Offices
Observations From the Coffee Shop
By: Shayna Englin
Research confirms that I’m not alone in my career choices. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 7.4 percent of the U.S. work force is independent contractors, which means that at least 10 million people hung out a shingle as of 2003—the last year they counted. Those numbers don’t include the one-and-two-person small businesses; and counting home-based small businesses has proven difficult.
The upshot: we entrepreneurs are everywhere, and there are more of us every single day.
I need go no further than my neighborhood, Wi-Fi-enabled coffee shop to confirm the statistics. At 2 p.m. on any given weekday the stay-at-home-moms have gone home for naptime; the morning coffee meetings attended by office denizens dressed in their finest are back at their offices; and the place is humming with the sound of keyboards clacking. We office-less freelancers have taken over, and we’re not ashamed of our jeans, giant coffee mugs and pallid skin tinged blue from the glow of our laptop screens.
There’s the bohemian across from me with his headphones on and his Mac open to sound editing software. The well-coiffed woman two seats down from me has been crunching numbers on a spreadsheet for the better part of three hours. Every so often she takes a break to check out a celeb gossip site—last time she noticed me peeking and confessed her secret love of juicy celebrity stories, explaining that it provides relief from the stress of her solo business forecasting practice.
And there’s me. Tomorrow I’ll be out at meetings in my suit and heels, but the day after I’ll be back here in my regular spot, making my contribution to the cacophony of keyboard clicks and display of denim couture. I’ll be working my way through project briefs, finishing up proposals, and loading up on caffeine. All of it punctuated by glances at my fellow risk-taking, skill-building, entrepreneurial fellows—all of us, living the statistics here at the neighborhood coffee shop.