From the hindrance of self-doubt to co-parenting and life as a single mum. Katherine Wildman, who went from writing a screenplay to writing scripts for multinational businesses, discusses the reality of being a female entrepreneur.
2018; the year of women. Exactly 100 years after the right to vote, women are rising. Katherine Wildman is a creative and commercial copywriter who used the disciplines of writing from her Master’s degree to develop her own creative writing agency. After spending two years as a stay at home mum, she was ready to take the world by storm. Katherine delves into the good, the bad and the ugly of starting her own business and whether or not she feels being a woman impacted her success.
“I work for myself. The only glass I see surrounds a hearty helping of Rioja in the evening,” explains Katherine. The Glass Ceiling can be defined as an unacknowledged barrier to advancement in a profession, especially affecting women and members of minorities. Perhaps a view that not many would expect, Katherine can be seen as the type of woman who is neither defined by boundaries, or somewhat outdated stereotypes. The 21st century is a promising environment for women in the workplace, there need be no limit to a female’s potential. Katherine continues, “People are making a living with an Instagram account or a YouTube channel. Give me my laptop and a wifi connection, and I’m away.” The internet can open so many doors. Whether that is through networking, taking online business courses, getting inspired by podcasts or creating your own creative business by simply setting up an Instagram account.
Whilst it is easy to paint entrepreneurship as a way of creating a job you love and making your own success story, the reality of setting up a business isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. “Self-doubt” admits Katherine. Two words that are heavily under-estimated. Do women really lack funding purely due to their gender? For women to rise, we must focus a great deal more on closing the confidence gap. Judith Beck, an executive recruiter in the financial services industry and CEO of Financial Executive Women revealed, “Women are less likely to take a risk on their career. Over time they end up missing out on opportunities.” Those that beam in confidence are captivating, something which seems to be spouted so effortlessly, yet others feel like an imposter never quite ready to take the leap and ask for that promotion, fight for better funding or believe that they are good enough to run a business and maintain clients.
It is easy to think women must only struggle with lacking confidence, yet Katherine opposes this idea when it comes to entrepreneurship, “The inability to ask for help. That goes for both men and women.” And that applies to parenting too, “I have a dear friend who’s a single father. The struggles are the same. Needing to be in three places at once are the same.” It seems in modern day society, the beauty of technology and smartphones allows for a better life balance. Katherine admits “I cried when Steve Jobs died. The internet and smartphones have changed so much of the working world since I was a new mother. The iPhone made it possible for me to work and have two kids. And yes, I have sent work emails from the toilet when I’ve needed to. I washed my hands, I promise.” Jokes Katherine, lightening up the mood.
Inevitably biology comes into play for women. Within a recent online Instagram survey gathered for primary research, 64% of people felt taking maternity or paternity leave would have a negative effect on their career aspirations, with 89 out of the 102 people that voted yes being women. For Katherine, being a stay at home mum could of led many people to believe setting up a business could have been due to being left uninspired, but it was quite the opposite, “I bloody loved it, and I’m eternally grateful that my ex-husband earned enough money to allow me to stay at home. I can make you a mean fruit bowl out of Play-Doh, recite many, many episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine and I’ve been to more soft plays and children’s farms than you could shake a stick at. I feel fortunate that we were able to give that constant care to our kids.”
Of course, that may not be the case for many women who do not desire to be at home looking after children, but there are ways around that. Katherine expands on this notion, “It depends on the relationship you have with your partner. If it’s a functional co-parenting arrangement and I mean you each do night shifts, you share the school holidays, the office is not seen as more demanding than the babies, then it can work.”
Once you’ve got the business going, meeting with multiple clients and tackling the world of business, it can be easy to forget the struggles you faced when you first began. Entrepreneurs can be a support mechanism for individuals who want to follow in their footsteps, “We’ll be in the Tyneside Café, I’ll be the sweary enthusiastic one.” says Katherine when discussing how she makes time for students who ask her for a coffee and a chat after they’ve graduated. Mentorship is a way of receiving support, advice and inspiration. Something which is crucial when setting up a business. She continues, “It can be all too easy when you’re working, paying the bills, tapping away on a MacBook Air, drinking the skinny cappuccino, to forget how you got here and the people that helped you on your way. I try and be one of those helpful people for those who want to do their own thing too.” Mentorship can be an effective tool used to transfer business knowledge, perpetuate wisdom and expertise across generations.
Beaming with confidence, speaking like a modern-day boss woman and facing entrepreneurship heads on. Whilst self-doubt had a huge part to play in the creation of her business, Katherine is learning to unapologetically believe in herself. She concludes the inspirational and exuberant interview with some important advice to women looking to set up their own business, “The world, my darlings, is your oyster. Work hard, play hard, be kind, don’t gossip, read, read some more, walk, eat well, sleep well, believe in yourself and all that you can do, dream big and go and get it. It’s all waiting there for you.” In short, don’t be afraid to get out there and show the world what you’re made of.