Huffpost Business
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Gwen Bell Headshot

The Hidden Economy of Women Online

Posted: Updated:

I recently attended a bluegrass show in the easy-going mountain town of Lyons, Colorado. As the band took the small stage, the fiddle player adjusted a small round gadget that had been placed on one of the amps. Suddenly the unmistakable sound of a wailing infant spread out over the venue. "Hear that screaming?" she said as she approached the microphone. "That's our newborn. Dad's going to go take care of 'im for a while." At that, the guitarist hurried off the stage to attend to his fatherly duties. Within a few beats the baby's cries were folded into the music of the remaining drummer, bassist, and fiddler/mom, and the show went on.

That's how things are done in Lyons. Business isn't about adjusting the world around you, it's about adjusting yourself to get the business done.

I've seen this model repeated in many other venues on and off line. While the economists worry and wring their hands, entrepreneurs, many of them mothers, keep the show going. You may be surprised, but even as the global marketplace quakes with recession and impending crisis, few people in my world are talking about "the economy."

Most of my days are spent talking (often on Twitter -- http://twitter.com/gwenbell) and working with women across the country. These ladies are seriously crafty. Many have shops on Etsy (which was funded for 27 million dollars in January 08) and some have created witty videos like this one, which shows how you can meet your ten dollar budget for Christmas gifts, for everyone on your list -- and have fun doing it.

Big budget marketers are spending millions attempting to reach these women, but the truth is that they are mainly talking amongst themselves. At heart, they're talking about how to support small businesses, but nobody really says the "b" word. They're talking about where to get hand-crafted baby blankets, how to buy locally, sharing cupcake recipes, the little things. Lots and lots of little things.

These are not techy bloggers or geeky startup types. When I spoke at BlogHer this July I saw a roomful of moms, many of them nursing newborns right on the spot. This new generation of "mompreneurs" sees no dichotomy between having a family and a successful business. But it's on their terms, often online, and built on a bottom up model.

For this group, business is done between swapping stories, taking care of sick kids, and running a family. These are busy, hardworking women. Often too busy to let something like a recession keep them from getting on with things. They don't talk about the economy because they've got their hands full building their own.

The bluegrass show in Lyons represents their technique of balancing the personal and the professional... one on each hip. Bringing a baby monitor on stage isn't an ideal situation but it's sometimes the only way to get your work done. Real entrepreneurs know that in tough situations, the only way through is through. Approach it creatively. It will, at the very least, add a little quirk to your show.