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Women Entrepreneurs & The Work-Life Balancing Act

Women in business and women entrepreneurs may feel like an endangered species sometimes. Yet they’re what everyone is talking about. How many women make it into the C-suite of Fortune 500 companies is big news. The success of companies where women are in leadership roles and the access to capital for women is now tracked, measured and scrutinized.

We are all for gender equality and a level playing field, but let’s face it, even Sheryl Sandberg recently admitted it’s tough. Women face unique challenges at different stages in their careers from their male counterparts. The reality is we need to create collaborative environments that recognize these challenges and helps pave a way forward for women as they raise families and grow their companies.

We sat down with Harvest Council Member Elizabeth Gore, entrepreneur guru and Dell’s current Entrepreneur-in-Residence to hear her perspective and unique insights.  Elizabeth is the Emeritus Chair of the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council and Chair of the Circular Summit.  Entrepreneur Magazine named her a Women to Watch this year. In previous years, People Magazine named Gore to its list of 100 Extraordinary Women and Fast Company has called her one of the most creative people in business.  Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethGore

What new opportunities do women in business have today? Why? How?

New sources of capital for women is a big new opportunity, only 5% of venture capital goes to female founders. This has been a major barrier in the past. Today crowdfunding has opened the door for women to easily get faster access to funding. Today, about 60% of crowd-funded, new companies have a woman at the helm.

Women led funds are another new opportunity for women entrepreneurs. Female focused funds like Intel’s Capital Diversity Fund ($125M), the largest venture capital fund ever created to focus on female and underrepresented minority entrepreneurs, was just started about a year ago.  

Purpose driven capitol, this new way of sustainable business thinking that values fixing problems while giving back to the community, preserving the environment, and making the world a better place is good for business. Consumers are demanding companies be socially conscious, and they are putting their money where their mouth is. It is a profitable business model.

What are the real challenges of being a mompreneur?

There are many!  Both men and women have families, it is a double demand on your time and mental bandwidth.  When you are with one, you are always thinking of the other. Kids tend to need their moms more when they are young, so it can be a different issue for moms vs. dads. They also tend to just be viewed differently, whether we want to admit it or not. I will give you a great example, my husband, Jim Gore is County Supervisor, Northern Sonoma County’s 4th District. When he was running for office I was noticeably pregnant with our second child, no one asked him how he was going to manage being elected to office with two small children. Linda Hopkins, who is running for Sonoma’s 5th District Supervisor has two small kids, and is constantly fielding questions about how she will manage the office and child rearing. And that is in a pretty progressive community, or at least we like to think so.  

What’s your advice for your 20 year old self?

You don’t have to make everything happen, and definitely not all at the same time. Worry less, engage more. This is not age exclusive advice by the way, I will probably give the same advice to my 48-year old self when I am 60!

What does “balance” mean to you in everyday practice?

It is a high wire act, everyday needs reprioritization. I am a mega-planner – I plan our meals, kids activity, work schedules and my workouts on a weekly basis. Inevitably, something will tip that schedule on a daily basis. The key is to be flexible. For me exercise is a necessity, it keeps me centered, I go to work early, spend the afternoon with the kids, finish up work, and then reconnect with my children at the end of the day. That is not how it goes everyday, but that is the plan! Taking care of yourself is important, when I am well rested I can handle anything. When I am tired, or indulged too much the night before, I am less able to take on the world.  

It is ok to ask for help, that has been a lesson for me. There is nothing wrong with getting support, in fact I need that trust tree of support to make it all work. Whether it is small kids, business, community, aging parents or any combination of the above, we need help from our friends and family – that is what they are there for.

Elizabeth is a mother of two and one half of a local power couple with her husband Supervisor James Gore. They are part of our vibrant Sonoma County winemaking scene. James’s brother Tom is a second-generation Sonoma County grape grower who recently launched his own label with Constellation called Tom Gore Vineyards. Elizabeth and James also join Tom and his wife, Erin, as proprietors of Gore Family Vineyards.  

Elizabeth will be a featured speaker at Harvest Summit on November 4, 2016.  Learn more about our agenda, see our speaker roster and request an invitation.

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