Being an entrepreneur is exciting, fulfilling and challenging. Starting your own business requires a lot of boldness and bravery, and it’s certainly not easy going by any stretch of the imagination. The challenges can become even greater when you’re a female entrepreneur, particularly in a predominantly male industry or profession. There are plenty of great business tips and advice available out there for any entrepreneur, regardless of gender, however today I wanted to share some of the useful nuggets of wisdom I’ve picked up on my journey as a female entrepreneur.
Strong leadership equals strong relationships
One of the most important aspects of a successful business is that the team behind it is united and working from the same page. Even when you’re flying solo as an entrepreneur, at some point you’ll need to rely on a team to help you achieve your goals or get a particular task done. Strong leadership creates strong working relationships, and whether as a boss or head of a particular project it’s up to you to step up to the plate and deliver this.
That’s easier said than done, especially as a woman in business, but there is a way to cultivate strong leadership that is also authentic to who you are. Rather than trying to emulate typically masculine ideas about leadership, think about the type of leader who you personally would want to work for. What kind of space would you need for your skills to flourish, what kind of management style would be most helpful and productive, and how would you like to feel as a member of a team or project?
Develop that Business Mindset
If you really want your solo venture to succeed, it’s important to remember that you are the business. Yes, your unique skills and talents enable you to generate an income and earn a living, but as an entrepreneur it is you as an individual that holds the keys to your success. As such, it’s imperative to start working on your business mindset. This doesn’t mean you should change your personality and start making ruthless decisions, it means that you embrace your authenticity and project confidence out into the world.
As a business owner you need to be confident in who you are, your value and what your mission is. It’s a mistake to try to change yourself to fit into an idea of a ‘boys’ club, believe in yourself and the qualities that you bring to the table. Like author, professional poker player and TED Talks speaker, Greg Dinkin says in his popular eBook, “winners are considerate and walk in the shoes of others”. You can put your ability to empathise with others to good use by thinking how they think. Look at the career paths of successful people you admire, male or female, and ask yourself what decisions they made along the way and whether you’d make those decisions too. Identify their strongest qualities and look for those same qualities in yourself – they’re already there, it’s just that some need to be woken up a little.
Take advantage of platforms and networking opportunities
Creative agency Berlin Cameron and Refinery29 recently released a data study entitled “This is Women’s Work: Stepping Up Startup Culture”, which provides fascinating insight into the transformations that women are developing within the startup ecosystem. Recognising a need for additional support to make female-owned businesses even more successful, the two companies have collaborated with Dee Poku, social entrepreneur, and strategist Serena Saitas to launch LLShe – a media platform that aims to assist women in business with fundamental things like capital and investment. Although still a relatively fresh launch, this platform is just one of the many opportunities out there for female entrepreneurs.
Support platforms and networking groups also happen at grassroots level, a quick search on Google reveals a number of groups, associations and platforms for women in business in the UK. Take advantage of these opportunities to connect with other female business owners and sympathetic brands and partners; not only are they important methods to lift each other up as women in business, they can also provide access to crucial guidance and information that can transform your business for the better.
Work/Life Balance is a must
As a mum, journalist and blogger I know firsthand how important it is to get the work/life balance right. Juggling my family, my personal life and career is something I need to manage every day, but this balance isn’t just important for mumtrepreneurs, it’s something everyone who runs their own business needs a helping hand with now and again.
If you want to be productive and stay focused as a business owner, it’s so important to have hours in the day that you can spend doing something – anything – outside of your career. It doesn’t matter if it’s spending time with friends and family, settling down with a book and a cup of tea, pumping iron in the gym or just getting outside in the fresh air, whatever those things are that you love to do and nourish your spirit, make sure you find time to do them every day.