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What challenges do you face as a woman in business?
Although entrepreneurship is no easy path for everyone, some challenges are unique to women. The life of a businesswoman takes on a few different challenges to that of a businessman. I speak from experience. The point is just to create an understanding of some of these issues and perhaps get both men and women to understand.
I have met men who know how to “toot their own horn”. I have even tried to calm down some men as they sounded boastful, my husband included! But, hey this is how men make their presence felt.
Speaking about your accomplishments is a necessity for a successful entrepreneur. Many women feel uncomfortable speaking about their triumphs. Your achievements are some of the biggest selling points, so don’t be afraid to put them out there. You need to train yourself how to do this.
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Fellow women, we wear many hats. From business owner, to mother, wife, daughter, girlfriend, member of the church, good neighbour, chama member… you name it.
Women have a tendency to be everything to everyone and juggling everything becomes very difficult. Out of all these hats, some tasks can be delegated. If you try and delegate some of the business tasks, you can run a successful venture. Be sure to delegate correctly so that you are not exposed to sabotage.
I think that delegation is especially difficult when women have to take long leaves such as maternity. If you leave your business in the hands of untrustworthy people, you will face numerous challenges.
I have seen a case where a woman went for her honeymoon only to find that her co-directors had edged her out of the business.
There is a very feminine tendency that is common across almost all women folk. Females are often taught to “be nice” and “people pleasers”, which can lead to seeking the approval of others. Subsequently, women can have a harder time saying “no”, which can lead to undercharging for their products/services.
Some males also find women too hard when they say “no” and may take an offence. It is a delicate balancing act for women but this typically comes at the expense of their own needs, business or otherwise.
You must train yourself not to become a victim of your own goodness. I have seen people try to get me to accept to do work at a lower price or even no additional cost while I know they would not do the same were it the case of a man. I have put this to test by going with a man to negotiations and allowed them to take the lead.
I was shocked at how well the other parties settled on the same thing I had previously proposed. Its strange but true. As a woman in business, you have to be tactful and not afraid to stick to business rather than “be nice”.
Have you been letting fear stand in your way? Your gut tells you to go for it but you quickly let your own mind cheat you that this business or that business is not for you. In general, women can be less prone to taking risks and can let their own fears such as the fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being on their own etc stand in the way of pursuing the path to success.
Try to build confidence by making sure you are mentally prepared. Then make sure you have a checklist of the critical things that need to be in place for your business to function well. Start with what you have. You will learn a lot along the way.
Take the lessons with you and you will be surprised how growth will flow.
Overall, believe in yourself, efforts and capabilities. Along the way, you many find a few people not taking you seriously. From those you expect to be your first cheerleaders to people you should not even care what they think. Some people within the business world may not take women opinions and advice as “expert opinion” compared to a man’s. Seek support that can help you overcome this bias. Like tennis star Serena Williams once said “I’ve had to learn to fight all my life got to learn to keep smiling. If you smile, things will work out.”
Keep the focus while smiling
Originally posted 2015-07-01 08:50:42.