Shared Leadership for the Future
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.
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.
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