Shared Leadership for the Future
If you are a regular viewer of Shark Tank you know how important it is that an entrepreneur, male or female, build a company not just develop and sell a product. Women, particularly, are more likely than men to turn a hobby into a business. So the question for women entrepreneurs is: Is what you BELIEVE to be a business just an expansion of your hobby?
Why is it I write so often about women's progress in business? women's progress in entrepreneurship? women's progress in politics? Women's progress around the world? women's progress as equals? Why? Because just when I believe we are making progress as equals, I run face-first into male chauvinism at a level that shocks me back to reality---and, if at my age and level of experience, I am knocked over by it I am confident YOU witness it every day too!
The most difficult part about being a business owner is that the buck always stops with you. Yes, I know well that a successful entrepreneur must NOT be a micromanager, but that does not mean that giving an employee responsibility means the entrepreneur is off the hook. Women entrepreneurs, particularly, must learn that their greatest fear should NOT be that they will have to hire someone new, but that they will keep a bad employee too long to the detriment of the company. In other words, "the devil you know is NOT better than the devil you don't know"!
Women in business are making strides in the workplace, but too often take for granted how hard the journey has been. Every now and then it is worth the time to take notice of just how far we have come....and even more important to realize just how far we need to go... In 1984, I was 32 years old and manager of a Diet Center, consulting men and women on what to eat to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. My salary was hourly plus commission on whatever I was able to sell to customers. Yes, what I made was exactly the national average for women then of about $.55 for a man's dollar. I loved my job and worked hard, but had to balance it with Mom duties of getting home in time for the school bus. There were very few options for childcare in 1984 for part-time working women. But I wouldn't have had it any other way anyway as the majority of the women I knew worked part-time or not at all.
Today's millennial women have a very different working environment. Working women make $.77 of a man's dollar now, but the pressure for equal pay is stronger than ever before and often when a woman speaks up she sees change. 60% of millennial women aspire to management positions and demonstrate their drive by completing higher levels of education than their male counterparts.
As a business coach to women entrepreneurs, the first message I deliver is that starting a business is a lot like giving birth....
For me every day is another day to celebrate women's history as women are involved in every area of life and continue to change the world one woman at a time.
There are some questions that women entrepreneurs ask that men entrepreneurs would never even consider thinking about. One of the key questions I hear from the women entrepreneurs I work with is: "Am I in control or just controlling?"
Business is booming for boomers starting businesses. Women, particularly, are becoming entrepreneurs for the first time in their late 50s and 60s. What motivates women at this time of their life to launch a business? The answers I hear will inspire you.
I just read the recent issue of Inc. Magazine where some of the country's most successful entrepreneurs share their stories. All agree that an entrepreneur without a story is an entrepreneur without inspiration. For example, Sara Blakely's story of how Spanx was born is simple - she bought a pair of white pants and found that nothing she put on under them worked until she cut off the feet of a pair of stockings. Voila! No more bulges, panty lines or unsightly winkles - Spanx was born. So, what's your story?
Every entrepreneur, male and female, should be watching Shark Tank! (in Boston it airs on Friday nights at 9 p.m. on ABC) As a business coach, I encourage all of my clients to tune in and capture one tip from the presenters or the sharks each week. Women entrepreneurs, particularly, must watch the female presenters as they share their stories and gain important feedback. These women are powerful role models for what works and what doesn't to grow business.
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