Shared Leadership for the Future
In business, and life, it doesn't take long to learn that it isn't always what you say that matters, it is what is heard. Women in business need to pay attention to this more than men because every word we say is dissected differently due to our sex. If you don't believe me that read on.
Is it a myth that women entrepreneurs become more hysterical in face of failure than their male counterparts? I found a reference online that says "Google Books shows 42,700 hits for hysterical woman and 2,820 hits for hysterical man", but perhaps the reference is to which sex is funnier. In any case, as a business coach working with both male and female entrepreneurs my advice is 3 steps we all learned as children: Stop, Drop and Roll.
I love being able to start a blog with a famous quote - this one attributed to Thomas Paine, political activist and philosopher, in the 18th century. Lead, follow or get out of the way is my advice for women in business.
Extra Extra Read All About It a new study released by The Graduate Center, City University of New York, states, Dads earn way more money than men without kids! But, wait a minute what about women in business? The study reports Moms make less than Dads (surprise surprise), but also make more than childless women. Really? Hmmm...please explain.. Well, the truth is women who have children, perhaps by planning, earned much more than childless women during their years leading up to having children. Are you lost yet?
Studies like the one I am referring to only perpetuate stereotypes about men and women. Just in case the millennials haven't figured out that there are stereotypes that they will eventually fall into, case studies are released to say progress is all around us, but male and female stereotypes pretty much stay the same.
Entrepreneurship is my favorite topic - to talk about, to read about, to think about, and to write about. I get excited every time I hear about a startup business and especially enthused to learn that it is a woman-owned business. For some reason, that I can only attribute to a mutant gene gone wild, I am obsessed with dissecting small businesses and discovering the dark horse. As I turn the pages of Zero to One, written by Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, I understand even more the importance of daring to be different.
I say, "Gals, there is no crying in baseball and there are no cutting corners in business!" If you hear someone say that they gained revenues by cutting corners, (s)he isn't telling you the whole story." Cutting corners in business eventually catches up with you and can irrevocably damage a business. Women entrepreneurs too often learn the hard way, just like the boys, that cutting corners in business leads to disaster. Let me tell you why? The first reason a business owner considers cutting corners is to boost the bottom line. As a business coach, I've heard time and time again about why a strategy to cut something is the only way to increase revenues. When I counter with questions on why (s)he doesn't consider a new product, a new channel for distribution, more social media to encourage inbound marketing, or a more focused sales strategy, I am often rebuked with the fear of taking risk. The truth is the biggest risk any business owner can take is to cut corners believing it will expand revenues.
Launching a business is a dream of women entrepreneurs and men entrepreneurs around the world. The goals range from wanting to control one's own destiny to becoming independent from the day to day of working for the "man". Owning one's own business is not for the impulsive, manic businesswoman who's only "MO" (modus operandi) is to operate a business on her own terms. Why? Because, unfortunately, no matter how much business ownership is in your control it will always require the owner to work within the guidelines of others. Let me explain.
"Be Your Authentic Self" the headlines read on the cover of almost every woman's magazine. The phrase was given great power by Oprah who spent decades inviting women to live their dreams and is quoted as saying, "I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I've become. If I had, I'd have done it a lot earlier." So what exactly does being your authentic self mean for women entrepreneurs?
Starting a business is not for 'the faint of heart' as the expression goes. The expression generally refers to women who are too excitable and may not be able to handle the unpleasantness of challenge. Of course, women, like men, desire a challenge and risk, and seek out entrepreneurship because they believe they have an idea/product/or service that will change the world. They don't see fear as the obstacle, but a challenge to 'go where no man has gone before.' The belief one has to have an impact on the world is powerful, but every entrepreneur eventually learns that every business has moments of the good, the bad and the ugly.
There is more to being an entrepreneur than having an idea for a product or service? Entrepreneurs launch businesses. An idea, a product and/or a service is not a business. As a women's business coach, I am asked by clients, "what do I do first?" It is the chicken or the egg dilemma, but unlike that philosophical question has a very simple answer.
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