It may seem a little obtuse; a man writing a blog post advising women entrepreneurs on how to thrive, but after spending more than a decade interacting with female entrepreneurs across South Africa, these are my findings on the areas that will help women excel in the overall field of entrepreneurship.
1. Inner Belief
Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely journey and that’s compounded when you’re trying to be a superhero for your home and family as well. You need to ensure you are your biggest supporter. Whilst the doubts will always creep in, it’s important to dig deep to firstly find your inner belief and then remind yourself of that belief often. Entrepreneurship is something anyone can do and entails a multitude of skills that anyone can learn. You are good enough. Believe that!
If it sounds too good to be true it always is. Entrepreneurship is hard. There are numerous setbacks and challenges. If anyone says differently they’re probably lying. It does have however have an equal amount of opportunity and more than its fair share of fantastic moments. The vision you have for your business, how it can serve the world and most importantly how it can drive your dreams and goals is critical in pulling you through to lows and pushing you to the ultimate highs. Ride the rollercoaster knowing why you’re doing this and what you’re chasing.
3. Lean on your inner circle
Whilst a lonely journey there are many people in your corner. People that have your best interests at heart. Physically write down who is in your inner circle. Whether it’s your romantic partner, your parents, your friends, your suppliers, a customer or two, hell, even your bank manager. Who has your back and is willing you towards success? When you actually see it written down you’re much more inclined to believe it. Lean on that inner circle. Accept their support and comfort. You’ll face times when you’re going to need it.
4. Learn to say No
Warren Buffet famously said, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” Don’t be the women that says yes to everything and to everyone. Every time you say ‘yes’ to something, or someone, you’re effectively saying ‘no’ to something or someone else. Sadly many of those times whilst saying ‘yes’ to everyone else, you’re actually saying ‘no’ to yourself, your priorities and your boundaries. As an entrepreneur, you are the most important person in your business and therefore you need to ‘put the oxygen mask on yourself first’. Know your priorities and learn to say ‘no’ to everything else.
I know women are all superheroes and that you’re a closet Wonder Woman. You truly do deserve a medal for that. I also know that even Wonder Woman needs to rest and recharge. Whilst you’re giving everything for your business, your family, your community; don’t forget that you are part of that complex web. You cannot give from your ‘bucket’ what you do not have. Take a minimum of one hour per week that is purely yours. Use it for a hobby, just to veg on the couch (alone), make a call to a long lost friend or whatever gives you energy. Make time to recharge your batteries and prioritise it weekly.
6. Ask for help
More than leaning on your inner circle for comfort and support you will have to sometimes ask for help. Sadly everyone else is going about their business worrying largely about themselves. In a perfect world, they would see your struggles and volunteer their help. You and I know it’s unfortunately not a perfect world. If you need help, please ask – people are often surprisingly open.
7. Banish guilt
As a women entrepreneur—and especially as a mom—you might often find yourself on a guilt treadmill. A never-ending pursuit for peace and happiness that seems to elude you. When you’re at work you feel guilty for neglecting the stereotypical ‘perfect women’ image. When you’re at home you’re feeling guilty about not doing enough in the business and getting more and more behind. STOP IT! You’re not being 100% present in any of your roles and the guilt causes wheelspin and even paralysis. Decide upfront how much time can be dedicated to what. If you can only work four hours a day then make that the most focussed and dedicated four hours you can. Think of how much work you get done the day before you go on leave. Your productivity goes through the roof because it has to. That’s all the time you’ve got. Then when you’re wearing any other ‘hats’ as a woman, mom, romantic partner, friend (the list goes on and on I know) you can be at peace and 100% present there as well.
Every women entrepreneur deserves a medal. You truly do have it harder than men. Whilst I can’t give you a medal today, please do give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it! Thank you for your contribution to all of us. We really do appreciate it and we really do appreciate YOU!
Harry Welby-Cooke, Country Partner for ActionCOACH Southern Africa
In honour of all the fantastic women that make up our wonderful nation of strong women, we have decided to celebrate by hosting a FREE webinar during August—women’s month—to help women business owners and entrepreneurs to absolutely thrive, especially in these challenging times. If you would like to register, do it as soon as possible as seats are limited and filling up quickly.
Register here to register.