Over the past 25 years, we have witnessed some of the greatest changes to the concept of the "American Family" in the entirety of American History. Think of the typical 1950s family, or even the 1970s family: Mom at home, Dad at work, Kids at school. Everyone had their "space," their own domain that they controlled. However, this discrete allocation of responsibilities left significant marks on our collective psyches; mothers found themselves with unfulfilled personal goals while fathers missed out on significant familial events. The feminist movement of the 1970s pushed us as a society to examine our perspective roles and to understand how our actions affect our children and ourselves.
A dramatic revolution in the American Workforce occurred during the 1980s and the 1990s.Women became willing and desirable candidates for high-powered work positions, competing against male counterparts, changing the face of professional leadership. Modern women are indebted to these pioneers for their sacrifices and the difficulties they endured so that future generations of women could flourish in a male dominated workforce. However, despite these hard earned battles, the same question for today's women still exists - are these sacrifices worth it? Is there a way that to satisfy both professional and personal goals?
I've asked this question of myself during my own journey in the workforce. I began my career as a lawyer, worked at the New York City Mayor's Office and ran a non-profit, and have finally started my own company. At the same time, I got married and became a mother to three young children. I wanted to continue with a high-powered career but I also wanted to be involved in my kids' daily lives. I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with wanting both.
In my experience, the key to satisfying these seemingly opposing desires is flexibility. Women have continuously compromised themselves to fit the existing model of 9 to 5 employment and the competitive need to clock over time to maintain the image of a valuable asset to the workplace. Meanwhile, large businesses rarely change their practices to help the needs of working mothers. We need a new model for employment and the solution may very well come from small businesses and start-ups.
Small businesses and start-upss often need expert advice but they struggle to pay the fees associated with a full time employee of the requisite caliber. Currently, there are almost 28 million small businesses in the United States and 543,000 new businesses are started each month. However, 80 percent of entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. And according to a study conducted by ISBDC using U.S. Census Bureau and University of Tennessee statistics, the leading cause for this failure is "incompetence" including lack of planning, no knowledge of industry pricing conventions or financing requirements, and record-keeping, among others.
While larger companies are able to avoid such pitfalls by hiring experts and professionals to address knowledge gaps, small businesses rarely have the budget to add full-time salaried employees. Inkwell proposes to solve this problem by offering a pool of professional women that can be contracted by small businesses on a part-time or temporary basis. Highly accomplished working mothers get the flexibility they desire while small businesses get the expertise they need but could otherwise not afford. It is a win-win for companies and for working mothers. The marketplace is calling for this flexible employment model. And so, the status quo for the American working model is evolving yet again.