Women micro entrepreneurs matter

Many women micro (or solo) entrepreneurs are earning more than the median after-tax household income and doing the majority of the unpaid labour to support our households but we’re being left out of funding and mentorship opportunities because of incorrect stereotypes, outdated federal benchmarks and a mismatch in values.

I run Pixels & Pieces Design, a graphic and web design business in Nova Scotia, Canada that services small and medium size businesses. I focus on branding and website development for small businesses who know their target audience but don’t have the capitol to access an agency. I am a team of 1, the Founder & Force as they say. I’m in my 4th year of business.

I was recently denied access to a small grant program because I was told my company “doesn’t have a large enough economic impact that a larger company does with you being the only employee.” Ouch. I brushed off my bruised ego and thought well, what does that mean exactly? how large does the economic impact need to be to matter?

I had a banner year in 2022! I doubled my revenue from 2021, took on a long term retainer client and in 2023 I am looking for a grant to hire a contractor to expand my business with a passive income generating project. Not bad after finishing up my entrepreneur training in April 2020. I had earned enough revenue in 2022 to pay myself more than the median after-tax income of a Nova Scotian household in 2020. I’m a registered business (and pay fees for the privilege), I charge and remit HST and I pay both portions of my CPP and EI. The unpaid labour I provide my household is incalculable. I have the flexibility to do household chores, make sure our bills are paid and organize our life while my husband is happy at his 9-5.

Time matters more than money

I am among a growing group of people who value time, and autonomy over that time, over money. Don’t get me wrong, money is great! but instead of grinding all day and night towards a moving target income goal, once I hit my goal, I’m done. If I get to the end of my to-do list before the end of my day, I can pursue household stuff or personal interests. I’m happy.

I’m much happier now than when I was working in the traditional labour market. I remember being told quite plainly by an employer (pre-pandemic) “we’ll never work from home as long as I am here”. I just wanted to put in my laundry on my lunch break.

Many women leave the traditional labour market when they have kids and need more time flexibility or realize that they can make the same or more money servicing the companies they used to work for as a contractor while having full autonomy over their time. I know who they are, we run in the same circles, offering complementary B2B services and attending the same networking events. We aren’t interested in dragon’s den style pitch competitions or scaling beyond a couple of contractors.

The benchmarks are outdated

To get access to funding or mentorship programs, many local and federal programs use the same benchmarks like requiring having employees, a certain revenue threshold or even cut out B2B entirely without published rationale.

I applaud the Canadian federal government on their Women Entrepreneur Strategy. They recognize that Canada could add up to $150 billion in GDP by changing the % of women owned businesses (currently only at 17%). However, “Improv[ing] access to funding instruments that meet the needs of women entrepreneurs—several studies suggest that there are gaps at the low end (microfinancing)” (Culkier, 70) is one of the key recommendations published by the The State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada 2022. Increasing access starts at the eligibility criteria and continues with challenging established stereotypes.

Micro entrepreneurs matter

“Women’s business pursuits are often perceived to be riskier or less profitable because they are smaller and because the organizational goals of women entrepreneurs may not be as profit-driven and instead may value sustainability and social goals. ” (Cukier, 55)

I earn enough to collect and remit HST, I pay both portions of CPP and EI and I make enough to support the average household in my province- I matter.

I service small businesses who can’t afford larger agencies and I share my expertise with start ups and entrepreneur serving organizations- I matter.

With access to a microgrant, I could create employment- I matter.

“Self-employed entrepreneurs are, de facto, creating jobs, even if only for themselves, jobs that will often support families. To the extent this form of entrepreneurship reflects work preferences and perhaps work–life balance, a contribution to societal well-being is implied.” (Pofeldt)

Micro entrepreneurs are not exclusively women but many of us are, we are performing unpaid household labour as well as running a business. We deserve to be recognized as legitimate businesses with accompanying access to funding and mentorship. We matter.



Cukier, W., Mo, G. Y., Chavoushi, Z. H., Borova, B., Osten, V. (2022). The State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada 2022. Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub. https://wekh.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/WEKH_State_of_Womens_Entrepreneurship_in_Canada_2022.pdf

Pofeldt, E. Major Research Study Embraces One-Person Businesses as Part of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. https://www.forbes.com/sites/elainepofeldt/2019/11/29/major-research-study-embraces-one-person-businesses-as-part-of-the-entrepreneurial-ecosystem/?sh=9051c3729d63