More and more women are venturing out on their own to start their own businesses for a number of reasons. Many just don’t want to put up with the gender politics and sexism in the workplace anymore. While a lot of others go the entrepreneurial route because it offers them flexibility, enables them to do what they want and help them fulfil their full potential. Be that as it may, what every business woman needs is sound advice from fellow women who’ve managed to either crack the glass ceiling or who’ve grown their own businesses towards successful heights.
Follow these 7 top tips from business women:
1. Be who you are and believe in yourself
Never change for anyone. Be who you are. Tell your story through your business. You put your own character and personality behind your brand, service or product. Realise that your authenticity is precious and if you start changing yourself to fit into a box you think others want you to fit into, you are making a big mistake. People love people who are authentic because customers like originality and a genuine human-relatable brand. Success means a lot of different things to various people. For some people success is being able to sleep in and have flexibility in the workplace. For others success might mean the opportunity to do what they love. Whatever success means to you, believe in yourself and tell your story. Be confident and be your own cheerleader. Don’t rely on anyone to validate your worth and success.
"Never feel frightened to use your voice. Keep being present because it's really important. Never feel like your voice isn't worth putting out there." - Martha Lane Fox, founder of Lastminute.com.
2. Find a mentor
Surround yourself with trail-blazing women in business with real-world experience not only to inspire and motivate you, but who provides you with learning opportunities through their own experiences. There is a lot of information and “how-to” videos on the internet, but this can be extremely overwhelming and generalised. Most women don’t know how to start a business, talk to investors or what the next step is that they need to take in their careers. Don’t try and do everything yourself. Find a mentor. The good news is that there are women out there you can learn from, whom already conquered many pitfalls in the business world. They will be able to shorten your path to success through learning from their mistakes. They will help be able to introduce you to their already established networks.
3. Take risks and don’t be afraid to fail
Fear is natural, especially fear of the unknown. The President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, once said:
"The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
So why settle for second best when all it’s going to take to reach your dreams is a leap of faith and a lot of effort? Success doesn’t come to you, you have to go after it. Take well calculated risks and don’t be afraid to fail. Women often end up with a lot of regret that they did not take a chance because they were too scared of failure. Think about it…would the entertainment talk show industry be the same without, for example Oprah Winfrey? What would our world be like without the courageous and powerful women we know of in business, if they too did not take a leap and ventured into the unknown?
4. Trust your instincts
Ideas like: “look at the facts”; “don’t involve emotions”; or “weigh all your options”, are passed down to each generation. But women should learn early on to trust their gut feeling, even if it scares them.
“I’ve trusted the still, small voice of intuition my entire life. And the only time I’ve made mistakes is when I didn’t listen”
said Oprah Winfrey. In business there will be lots of times where you just need to trust yourself and follow your heart. This does not mean you should just blatantly ignore warnings or facts. We suggest, however, that business women cultivate and learn to balance their intuition along with sound advice and logical thinking.
5. Never stop learning and innovate yourself
Any successful person in business will tell you to live by the saying “the more you learn the more you earn” and that no matter how successful, powerful or experienced you think you are, you should never stop to learn, develop and innovate yourself. The fast pace the business world is running at, means constant change. New and exciting developments, especially on the tech side, bring along quicker and more efficient ways of doing business in the 4th Industrial Revolution. By learning new skills and technologies, you make yourself more valuable, you improve your confidence and self-esteem and you become a great role model in the business world.
6. Say No sometimes
Women in general are known for being able to multitask. But by doing everything for everyone and always saying yes to, for example, every meeting and every suggestion, will take up all of your time you should’ve used to focus on strategically growing your business or your career. Know when and where to focus your time and energy. Don’t get side tracked from achieving your goals and definitely don’t waste precious time doing something that won’t benefit your goal. Time wasters like this also add to increased stress levels. Focus on what you deem your core objectives and learn to say no to the rest.
7. Learn to take criticism and turn it into positive feedback
From an early age we get complimented or reprimanded. This creates some of our social skills and forms us as individuals. But as we grow older, we as women tend to internalise criticism and we allow it to shape us. Criticism always hurts, but you must learn to soften the blow because getting feedback is an extremely important factor as part of the learning process on your road to success. When you do get criticized try not to get angry or retract into your shell. Rather learn to view criticism as being potentially beneficial to your growth. This will also help with improving your interpersonal skills. Take the positives out of the criticism and also realise that there are some people who are critics by nature.
In closure, here is some advice from Patti Stanger, Founder of Millionaires Club International; Advice Columnist for www.PattiKnows.com; Star of Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker:
"The secret to being a successful woman in today's market is to walk to the beat of your own drum, listen to your intuition, and always follow through. If you plan on taking on a partner, follow the three C's rule, which also applies to finding a mate: communication, compatibility, and chemistry...for without that, your venture won't succeed."
Specially designed for women in business, The Mindspa Institute’s workshop presentation called: Top Tips for Women in Business, will energise, encourage, motivate and above all assist career women with their unique challenges.