Compared to even a decade ago, more women are starting and running their own businesses than ever before. But despite increased participation and visibility in the business world, many women are still hampered by stereotypes and outdated ideas that can affect how well they perform.
Learn From a Mentor
As someone who has started a business or held a leadership role in a company, a business mentor has dealt with a lot of the same experiences you’re facing, and as a result, they can provide valuable guidance to help you clear hurdles and recognize hidden opportunities. To find a mentor that’s right for you, join a trade association in your industry or contact the Small Business Administration (SBA) and ask about government-sponsored mentor organizations. Many entrepreneurs find mentors in their own networks of colleagues and friends. When meeting with a mentor, be respectful of their time, take lots of notes and be sure to thank them for their help after your meetings.
Tap Your Emotional Intelligence
Call it intuition or a sixth sense, many women tend to be more “tuned in” to the reactions of those around them, and they also seem to be more focused on nurturing and supporting their staff, qualities that can make for great leaders. Developing emotional intelligence begins by tuning in to your own feelings and observing how you respond to situations, then consciously shifting those reactions as needed to handle different situations in the most effective way, citing an article by business coach Susan Liddy from Huffington Post.
Look Into Multiple Funding Sources
Like many small businesses, you may be tempted to use personal financing including your own credit when establishing a business. But really to grow your business, it’s important to begin to build credit as soon as possible, so your business is able to meet challenges as they arise. Getting credit isn’t as difficult as you may think: The best small business credit card companies understand the challenges of building a business from the ground over, and they’re own success is built on helping other businesses succeed. Having separate credit for your business also ensures your personal finances are protected if your business has financial difficulties.
Participating in competitions designed specifically for entrepreneurs or women business owners is a great way to draw attention to your abilities and gain some publicity in the process. Even if you don’t win, by focusing on the competition and its requirements, you may identify important areas where you can improve or grow. It’s also a great way to meet new people and build your network.
Join a Peer Advisory Group
Also called “mastermind” groups, advisory groups with peers bring together business and community leaders to discuss issues and challenges facing today’s businesses, and then brainstorm solutions. Think of it as a kind of brain trust that taps into the knowledge and experience of a broad range of successful people. Groups typically meet under the leadership of a facilitator who helps identify issues for discussion and keep the meeting on track.
Photo by Flickr user Dell Inc.