You might be wondering, “why the gender distinction?”And you know what? It is a fair point. In this day and age, should we really separate male and female? Shouldn’t ‘entrepreneur’ have the same connotations, regardless of our physical differences?
For the most part I think so, but there are some small differences that I want to address. For example, women bear the children, and I do not see that changing in the near future. Family roles, stigma, and all of that wonderfully complex stuff plays into the life of an entrepreneur too.
And so as a female entrepreneur, I wanted to share a few of the ‘secret’ things that go on in my head, affect my decision making, and to a certain degree, my confidence in my business. And while we are at it, let’s talk about some secrets of success too.
Entrepreneurs need to be fearless. Business involves taking calculated risks, and as business owners, the buck stops with us. As women, psychologically we might tend to be a little more risk adverse. Some of this is nature and some of it nurture.
What do I mean by this? I mean that our brains are wired a little differently to men. Risk calculation is one of those areas where we can differ a little. And in terms of nurture, how common is it to see a difference in the way brothers and sisters are raised?
It is sad but true that little girls are often not given quite as much freedom to ride their bikes around or play out of their parents’ sight, for their own safety. These subtle lessons that we women pick up in childhood, such as ‘the world is dangerous,’ have a long-lasting psychological affect.
According to a 2016 report from the Center for an Urban Future, women typically own smaller businesses. Risk aversion could be one contributory factor in this.
I know that for myself, when I am looking at spending even a small amount of budget on advertising a new product or service that I don’t have a blueprint for, I feel that risk aversion I have had since childhood.
My first secret weapon
For me, as for many entrepreneurs, I seek out some business coaching when I am feeling stuck around taking a risk. I like to break down the goal, break down the issue, and come to my decision about how much risk is worth it for me.
We are coming for the men
Some more encouraging data is the fact that we, women entrepreneurs, are on the rise. According to the 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses report, there are 11.3 million businesses owned by women in the US, who employ around 9 million people, and generate over $1.6 trillion in revenues.
Be the captain of your own ship
For myself, I found a secret weapon in my personal development journey. It was not until my early thirties that I even really began to permit myself to listen to my inner voice and openly admit to who I wanted to be.
I did not want to be a traditional wife and mother. But I did not want to be an employee forever either. I wanted to be the captain of my own ship.
It wasn’t until I began to train as a life coach and went through a huge personal transformation, with most of my fellow classmates also being women who wanted to work for themselves, that I really admitted my desires. These classes tend to be populated by women, probably due to stigma again. It seems more socially acceptable for a woman to ‘get to know herself.’
Allowing myself to own who I was really gave me a huge amount of energy for learning about business and starting to develop a plan. In short, I stopped wasting brainpower on trying to please everybody else. And seriously, no entrepreneur has time for that.
Own those mistakes
I have known a fair few business owners who have made colossal mistakes. And you know what? No one died and things worked out. An entrepreneur is a resourceful person who can pick themselves up off the floor and say, “Okay, that failed. What did I learn for next time?”
As women, we are perhaps inclined to be a little more nurturing to people in a tough spot. Now hold that thought for my last secret weapon…
My second secret weapon
I want to suggest that you take some of that nurturing female instinct and apply it to yourself, your business and your employees. In terms of risk aversion, nature plays against us there. But this is where we can take the power back.
When something goes wrong, try thinking of your business as your child. Pick it up of the floor, assess its injuries, and ask, “What did we learn?”
If you can treat yourself, your team, and your big endeavor with compassion, then you are setting the right conditions for steady growth, and most importantly, happiness. Let’s not forget why we became entrepreneurs in the first place. We wanted to follow our dreams, work with passion and enjoy the process.
|By Sarah K Brandis