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Room(s) of Her Own

"Have you any notion how many books are written about women in the course of one year? Have you any notion how many are written by men? Are you aware that you are, perhaps, the most discussed animal in the universe?" So wrote essayist and novelist, Virginia Woolf, in her now infamous work, A Room of One's Own. Woolf wrote the book in 1929 to talk about why, and how women at that time were excluded from the world of power, knowledge and money.

A room of one's own seemed little enough to ask.

After all, women had attained voting status by 1917, at least in Vermont, and by 1920 in the nation, so why were they being denied respect and recognition in the world of literature and writing? In her remarkably witty way, Woolf's writing took that issue to heart--bristling at the way men of academia were in the habit of denouncing women's writings as"childish scribblings." Woolf's answer to their shortsightedness? "Suppose, for instance, that men were only represented in literature as the lovers of women, and were never the friends of men, soldiers, thinkers, dreamers; how few parts in the plays of Shakespeare could be allotted to them; how literature would suffer!"

Today, many women have a room of their own. Some women have more than one room. In fact, in the dawning of this grand new millennium, women are taking the space they need. They are taking it to open home-based businesses faster than you can decipher FDOTFL (teenspeak for: falling down on the floor laughing...used when IMing friends). 60% of woman-owned businesses are operated out of the home. The U.S. Census tells us that 64% of all women ages 18-34 "want to become business owners." The Center for Women's Business Research says "women-owned businesses are financially sound, they have proven themselves credit-worthy, and they are eager to get established and grow their business buying the same products and services their male colleagues buy."

Women like the idea of being there for the family. My book on marketing to women reveals this updated version of the old 70's feminist call, "I am woman, hear me roar," changing it to, "I am woman, hear me roar, my home is now my store, my office and so much more." And, the Center posted this stat just last week: FACT OF THE WEEK, March 15, 2004 Women owners of $1 million-plus businesses are more likely than men owners of $1 million-plus businesses to have a Website that is capable of fulfilling online transactions (56% compared to 38%). The Leading Edge: Women-Owned Million-Dollar Firms Underwritten by AT&T and KeyBank, January 2004

In his book, Futureconsumer.com, author and futurist, Frank Feather, writes, "The small office/home office (SOHO) market is changing the socio-economic landscape." He predicts an accelerated growth of home-based businesses to more than 200 million within the decade! And therein lies the reason for this post.

I was reminded of the power of home-based businesses and of the fact that women are opening them in droves, by an article in my local newspaper today: " Home, on their own: Turning hobby into business is fun, time consuming." Written by Mary Chao, the article highlights four home-based businesses--three of which are owned and operated by women. That's it. That's my point. Women have several rooms of their own, now. Rooms they are turning into businesses--businesses that NEED products, services, supplies, and customers.

Now, why aren't you selling to them? Instead of thinking they need to get "approval" from their husbands, or assuming the President or CEO of their company is male, start recognizing these women for what they are: entrepreneurs who are enthusiastically pursuing their dreams. HELP them make those dreams come true by learning more about them; offer them value-added content on your website--something that will make their work, home, or family better, happier or easier. They will thank you with sales. And, more importantly, with their loyalty.

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