Business Owners Toolbox Blog Discussions and articles to help the small business owner solve the challenges they face as they grow their business.

August 20, 2009

Women vs. Men Business Owners

Filed under: Growth Management — Tags: , , , — Mike Van Horn @ 12:39 am

Q: How are women business owners and execs different from their male counterparts? What do they do right? What mistakes do they make? Lee B.

A: Two observations from my many years of working with men and women small business owners:

1. The similarities are much greater than the differences. Some of the claimed differences I hear about aren’t true in my experience.

2. But here’s one difference: In general, women owners are more intent on preserving their balance between work and the rest of life. A while back, I surveyed a number of our Business Group members during meetings. I asked, “How many hours a week do you work?” The men complained/bragged about the number of hours they put in: 50, 65, 80, more! One guy said, “I have to wear a nametag so my kids will recognize me.”

Then it was the women’s turn: “I work 35 hours, then I go ride my horse.” “I’ve set it up so I never work Fridays.” “I want to be an absentee owner. If my GM can’t handle things, he’s fired.” “I want to spend as much time running my non-profit as I do my business.”

The women ran equally large and profitable companies — ranging from 5 to 50 employees. And they weren’t brilliant managers. It’s just that they insisted on maintaining their work/life boundary and ran their business to maintain it. The men looked at working long hours as a badge of honor.

I must say, this exercise had a huge impact on the men. They started changing their attitudes about this. And it has paid off: the guy who made the “nametag” comment is now finishing a four-month sabbatical from his business, during which his Operations Manager handled things just fine.


1. The difference in hours worked was entirely due to the attitudes and beliefs one held.

2. People could change when confronted with the possibility of doing things differently.


Want to reduce the hours you work without hurting your business performance? I get into this more in two of my e-books:

— Recapture Your Time

— The Inner Game of Growth


  1. Mike,
    Very interesting post! Once again your simple question to the Business Group members sparked a conversation that had a positive impact on those present. It sounds like the man who made the “nametag” comment needed a break. And based on your other blog post, “Do I Have to Work All the Time,” his business will benefit as well.

    Comment by Andrea Dwyer — October 7, 2009 @ 10:05 am

  2. Thanks, Andrea
    And as I pointed out, he has taken a six-month hiatus from his business, successfully leaving it in the hands of his #2, by applying the things we talk about.

    Comment by mvh — October 7, 2009 @ 11:35 am

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