Shared Leadership for the Future
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.
There is an old saying that goes 'in life only one thing is certain apart from death and taxes - no matter how hard you try, no matter how good your intentions are, you are going to make mistakes.' Women entrepreneurs know this from experience, but can lessen the severity of mistakes by taking three lessons into consideration.
Too many women entrepreneurs are great impersonators. Somewhere they heard the expression "fake it 'til you make it' and decided this was the strategy to use when starting their businesses. I ask my women entrepreneur clients to look in the mirror and ask, "Am I an actress playing a role, a frighten little girl not willing to admit I'm over my head, or a woman who acknowledges she is a work in progress?
The most important lesson women in business can learn is how to stand out NOT stick out! There is a big difference, particularly for women, who in many circumstances and industries are still in the minority. Standing out means being able to attract attention for all the right reasons. Sticking out means distracting those who can help you get ahead.
Women entrepreneurs wonder why their women employees seem to be asking the above question: "Is this a new phenomenon in the business world? Is this question asked by women in business more often than businessmen? Is this desire to feel appreciated and loved by one's peers, customers, company, and business world age-related? The answer to these three questions is YES!
Ask any women born in the 1940s or 1950s about choice and you'll learn that women of that era (and, yes, I am one of them) didn't really think much about making choices. We just plodded along in the direction that felt right at the time. Some of us went to college, got married, had children, worked part time or full time or stayed home and threw ourselves into the role of caretaker and community participant. And, some of us even started our own businesses. Women born in the later 1960s and beyond have been given the dream of many more choices. But with those choices comes the burden of making key decisions on which choice to make.
There are only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week and every woman entrepreneur I know already has her hands full with her business and her home. So, when I hear the question, "Do I have to network to be successful in business?" I know exactly what each woman client means -- (I get up at 5 a.m. and put in 2 to 3 hours at home and traveling to work. I have 6 to 8 hours, if I'm lucky, to do the work of 4 people before I have to head home and take care of everything at home. When do I have time to network, anyway?
There is no better way to ensure business success than to see yourself attaining it. For some reason, men have been given permission at an early age to believe that they can be or do anything they want in life. On the other hand, too often, women have been encouraged to only color within the lines, in other words, limit their dreams. Every successful woman entrepreneur or woman in business I have ever met believed that she would achieve her vision of success and when asked how answered using her mind's eye.
First, let me say, I only write from personal experience so, YES, I had the opportunity to go into prison and listen to and question two male prisoners. The takeaways can help all entrepreneurs be more successful in business and life. But, women entrepreneurs, particularly, should pay close attention because in our minds we might be more like inmates than we want to admit.
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