Alaska Small Business Development Center

3 Reasons Why Lean In is Important for Entrepreneurs

October 1, 2015

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to listen to Sheryl Sandburg speak in person at the national ASBDC conference. I had recently finished reading Lean In and even though the talk was centered on a different topic, I was excited to hear from a woman who literally wrote the “How to” for working women. As Sandburg spoke about entrepreneurship and small businesses I realized her book raises some interesting points that should catch the attention of our entrepreneurship community.

In the U.S., more than 9.1 million firms are owned by women. According to Forbes, the number is up by lean in post call outalmost 59% between 1997 and 2013 ( This means that there are a lot of women burning the candle at both ends trying to keep both their business and their families running smoothly.

If you haven’t read the book, I highly encourage you to take 15 minutes to watch Sandburg’s TED Talk to get the general idea of what it’s all about ( Sandburg asks the question “what would you do if you weren’t afraid” and I think a lot of Entrepreneurs have not only answered that question- but pushed their fears aside and jumped head first into making their dream job a reality. Now that you’ve taken the leap there are a few more things to consider from Lean In (regardless of your gender!):

  1. Success is subjective

A common theme we come across with our clients when we ask them to become a success story is that they don’t feel like a success. Sure, they’ve secured a loan, made their customers happy and created jobs for our community- but have they “made” it? Lean In talks about impostor syndrome – a phenomenon where people are often unable to internalize their own accomplishments. It’s good to hold yourself to a high standard but it’s also important to celebrate the small wins along the way.

  1. The “I Can Have It All” mentality is flawed

After a generation of people tried to “have it all” reality set in and showed us that having it all- and doing everything flawlessly- is just not going to work. We have to make tradeoffs based on constraints- time, money, etc. Chose what and who you put your energy towards carefully and always remember the opportunity cost of your actions.

  1. It takes a team

Similar to “you can’t have it all” is “you can’t do it all. Weather its reexamining how the household duties are being split, outsourcing your marketing efforts or trusting your employees with more duties; it’s important that you have a team of trusted people you can rely on to help you keep everything in order. Not sure what you should give up? Speak with your business advisor and discuss what duties are integral to your business and what can be outsourced or handed over. You’d be surprised how much time you open up for the things that are important to you (networking opportunities, family time, expanding on a new business idea).

Alright, I’ve convinced you. Now what? I encourage you to continue this important conversation by joining the AK Entrepreneurs Lean In Circle and taking part in a new series of events coming to Anchorage. Through a charged Power Hour, we will host varied monthly events to engage, network, and highlight local women-owned businesses in an entertaining and succinct way. To learn more, email

Lauren Riley low Written by Lauren Riley, Marketing & Program Specialist for the Alaska SBDC

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