Happy International Women’s Day! The theme of this years celebration is #Balance for Better and we ask ourselves how we can help forge a more gender-balanced world. Unfortunately it’s rare to find a woman who hasn’t known the frustration of being seen as “lesser than” by men in the business world. Ever receive a compliment on your work, such as “You sure know a lot about running a company…for a girl”? Ugh. Yes – more gender balance would definitely be better!
Moxie Girl founder, Amanda Thomas, knows well that bias against women – especially women business owners – still exists. I recently had a chance to sit down with Amanda and chat about her background and the experiences that have helped shape the woman she is today.
An Earthy Beginning
The youngest of 3 sisters, Amanda grew up on her family’s farm where a solid work ethic and strong morals prevailed. “My grandparents had a neighboring farm and I spent a lot of time with my grandma, who’s now 98 years old. She was one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever known,” says Amanda, also noting that her grandparents labored in exchange for land ownership rather than money, initially, in order to build their own farm.
Amanda chuckles remembering her earliest entrepreneurial endeavor – selling candies to the workers on her grandparents farm when she was a kid. Sure, that business went by the wayside, but Amanda’s enthusiasm for business ownership grew with her into adulthood.
Back-Handed Compliments and Micro-Aggression
Founding Moxie Girl at the age of 27, Amanda quickly grew tired of the comments and behaviors she saw in her male counterparts. “I’d go to networking events and be talking to people – mostly men, of course – explaining my company and thinking I’m getting somewhere…And then I’d realize I was just being chatted up because I’m an attractive female,” Amanda says. “Even more annoying were some of the comments I’d get from men when they’d find out that my business was REALLY a business. Things like ‘Oh, wow! You have employees?’ There was definitely a different standard of acceptance in business, depending on your gender.”
“Bossy” to “Boss Lady”
Growing up, Amanda says her family often referred to her as “bossy.” She did – and still does – like to direct things. “I’m still ‘bossy’ I suppose, but I’ve learned how to be bossy in a way that works for my business and my team. Amanda knows that in many situations, it’s more important to trust that a job gets done to satisfaction than it is to waste time fretting about the method. “I truly want my team members to be able to effectively work things through on their own, but I also want them to feel secure in asking for help or advice when they need it.”
A Big Decision
Regardless of gender, business owners are continually faced with important decisions. Amanda says the biggest decision she’s made recently was to shift the focus of Moxie Girl from “household assistants” to “vacation rental specialists.”
“The business had grown to a comfortable level and I was happy with the way things were going but the booming vacation rental industry here in the Valley really presented an opportunity to fill a new niche. Internally, I wrestled with shifting our focus, but I’m sure I made the right move,” says Amanda. As proof, Moxie Girl has roughly doubled in size since concentrating on vacation rental properties only, servicing approximately 110 vacation rental homes throughout the Metro-Phoenix area.
Balance is Everything
Oh, did I mention Amanda has been managing all this on top of having a husband and a toddler-age son? With the past year devoted to the directional change and growth of her business, sometimes Amanda’s lifestyle has had to change – at least temporarily – to make it all work. I asked Amanda if she felt that owning her own business was “worth it” and the resounding answer was “Yes!” followed by “Most days.”
While owning a business can certainly be stressful, Amanda says she feels more secure knowing her business is hers. “Ultimately, it’s my business and I have the power to adjust things to counter shifting balances if needed.”
When I asked Amanda what she likes to do with any “uncommitted” time on her calendar, not surprisingly, her answer was “Nap!” For Amanda naps are a re-charge and allow her to be more productive and effective in the rest of her busy life. “I’m actually working on securing more ‘uncommitted’ time that I can commit to napping!” says Amanda.
Words of Wisdom
Amanda’s advice to aspiring business women? “LISTEN – a lot! And say ‘yes’ to whatever you think you can do.” Amanda actually began Moxie Girl Household Assistants in response to what she was hearing and seeing during her time spent as a nanny and in working in the fitness industry. “I could see the effects that ‘not enough help’ was having on couples and families. Instead of focusing on their common dreams, relationships and goals, I saw a lot of finger-pointing and blame, “ says Amanda.
Through listening and making numerous mental notes, Amanda clearly saw ways she could help. She imagined offering support by way of providing assistance in all the “little things” around a home which can add up and spark resentment between partners and family members – and Moxie Girl was born! Yay!
Enjoy Your Day!