I’m going to be completely honest and admit I didn’t really have a plan for how to honor International Women’s Day. Just keeping the essential balls in the air has been a challenge. For the entire last week (plus a few days) our sitter who helps with our 16-month-old had the flu, and in the middle of that week my husband started jury duty — and on that same day I got the call from my daughter’s school that she had come down with the same crud that everyone else seems to be getting. Today, a week later, she’s finally back at school, our wonderful sitter is healthy again and watching the tottering toddler, and I’m madly catching up. (Dang jury duty lasts until the middle of next week! Ugh.) Thankfully I am still healthy (I’m knocking, BANGING on wood right now) but the pressures of the last week have got me worn pretty thin.

So instead of writing a long post about women’s progress in the last 100 years (believe me, there are plenty of other blog posts and articles online today that do a great job of this), I have a better idea: to shine a light on some of the awesome women business owners that I am honored to know. I interviewed several women entrepreneurs for  The Women’s Small Business Start-Up Kit; below is an excerpt.

What’s the best part of running a business?

Kyle Zimmerman“Getting to do exactly what I want, how I want to … and not working for someone else.”

Kyle Zimmerman, founder and owner of Albuquerque photography studio, Kyle Zimmerman Photography.

Sabrina Habib Williams“The fact that I work in the field of my choice doing what I love, with freedom to be creative. The ability to model the business philosophy exactly to my standards and beliefs is something I would never have working for someone else.”

Sabrina Habib Williams, co-founder of JS Photography in Gainesville, Florida.

Rebecca Pearcy“Being self-employed is pretty ideal for becoming a parent. I can decide what kind of a schedule I need (within reason) and be more in control of my life than if I worked for someone else.”

Rebecca Pearcy, founder and owner of Queen Bee Creations and Chickpea Baby, which manufacture and distribute a variety of handmade bags, wallets, panniers, diaper bags, and accessories to retail and wholesale customers around the world.

Leila Johnson“The best part of running a business is the flexibility of my schedule. I realized how important this was when I was pregnant and after having my daughter.”

Leila Johnson, vice president and co-owner of VelaMira, Inc, dba Data-Scribe®, a full-service Web firm, and author of Driving to Success: Let Your Spirit Take the Wheel.

Lauren Bacon (left) and Emira Mears“Getting to call the shots—nothing quite compares to having the autonomy to decide which projects you want to take on, and when and how you want to work. Even when things are rough, it’s reassuring to know that if you want things to change, it’s in your power to change them.”

Lauren Bacon and Emira Mears, the founders and owners of Raised Eyebrow Web Studio Inc., a Vancouver-based Web development firm focused on providing strategic, beautiful, and effective online communications for clients in the nonprofit, government and progressive business sectors.

Elissa Breitbard“The constant newness, change. There are always new issues and challenges, and this suits my personality. For example, just last week we decided to launch an entirely new brand/branch within Betty’s. Now we have this new focus to keep things fresh. It’s also true that I now cannot imagine working for someone else.”

— Elissa Breitbard, founder and owner of Betty’s Bath & Day Spa.

Nicola Freegard“The challenge and the learning are the best parts of this business owner puzzle. After failing at other businesses, I have rejoiced in understanding that my failures have been my best lesson. I have no fear of thought-through risk, and have built a tremendous amount of confidence from this.”

Nicola Freegard co-founder of Vy&Elle, an eco-conscious fashion label headquartered in Tucson, Arizona.

Isabel Walcott Draves“When you’re a consultant, people really are turning to you for advice. Having the intellectual freedom to speak my mind and being able to substantially influence the direction of a business entity are probably the benefits I appreciate most about the choice I’ve made.”

Isabel Walcott Draves, Internet startup consultant and expert in strategic Internet marketing, social media, user-generated content, and creating communities online and off.

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