As female entrepreneurs, who do we need to become? What personal development do we need to achieve our dreams and own the business of our vision? That’s the classical “Be + Do = Have” formula… right?
I’ve been researching this topic obsessively: reading, watching interviews with successful entrepreneurs, listening to many different podcasts. There are a few themes that come up regularly: having a vision, discipline, hard work, risk taking, money mindset, building a network, continuous learning… Is it really that straightforward?
It’s more complex than that.
I believe this list of personal development to reach entrepreneurial success is not that straightforward, and it’s even more complex for women solopreneurs and micro business owners. Why? There are several reasons:
The role of the family
Research conducted in Italy qualifies family as an “intervening variable between gender and entrepreneurship”. Data shows that family is one of the main influencers in becoming an entrepreneur, as well as in the business decisions that women make: slow growth sectors, smaller businesses to allow more time with family and create life and work balance.
Female entrepreneurship is largely represented in slow growth sectors
For most this mean that you, the business owner, has to be more involved in the business day-to-day management and growth – all of which clashes with family-related time restrictions, thus preventing potential growth.
Women entrepreneurs are usually secondary income generators
Data shows that women micro business owners and solopreneurs are mostly secondary income generators for the family, ranking their business as “less vital / less important” to the family (this is mostly true in EU countries – female founders from developing countries are in business for more “need” based reasons).
For example, I watched a video on Entrepreneur.com. The creator of the video stated, if you want to be an entrepreneur, that 1 of the 10 things that you must be able to do is to work more than 80 hours per week. His speech was more suited to high growth start-up businesses and it might actually be true for the first 2 – 3 years… having said that, this cannot be applied to a woman founder who opened her catering business and is working from home so she can look after her children after school. The thing is, yet again, female micro business owners and solopreneurs are overlooked and ignored because, there is absolutely no real, applicable, adaptable advice out there for personal development when growing a micro business as a woman.
Ha! Guess what? As Sir Richard Branson says: “Screw it, let’s do it!”
A different way?
For female micro business owners and solopreneurs, I propose a slightly different way of looking into this personal growth thing. This might sound a bit more strategic, tangible and almost mechanical, but let’s give it a go, shall we?
1. Let’s start with the business of your vision
Instead of providing a list of what we should become, should we not first ask, what does the business of my dreams require from me as its owner? There is a massive difference between £10 million / annum revenue business and 100K / annum revenue business and I believe the personal development areas to tackle are also different. The first one requires a massive team with several managerial levels, where you really need to become a leader, a motivator and the second one can be achieved as a solopreneur, which most likely requires more customer relationship building, setting up yourself as an expert, etc. Now, the sticky part is (of course) to have clarity about your vision and what you really want from your business. This article might be helpful.
Once you get that clarity of vision, try to answer the following questions (as the owner of that business):
- How shall I be perceived by my customers?
- How shall I be perceived by the prospects and audience of my business?
- What should people say about me?
- Which topics do I need to know about to be able to ensure that?
- What are three most important qualities I need to improve on? (discipline, creativity, vision?)
- What are the three most important skills I need to develop? (people management, sales, money management, time management…)
- What are the three things I need to stop doing?
- What are the three things I need to start doing?
2. You are the captain of your ship
I have a life philosophy that sometimes puts me in very difficult situations but also gives me the best life experiences ever: if no one has ever done it before, you might not be able to do it, but it’s worth trying. If someone has done it before, you can certainly do it as well; it might not be as good or it might take time, energy and hard work, but you can certainly do it. Hold this thought.
There are some business investors or serial entrepreneurs who buy “broken”, “about to sink” businesses and they transform them into money-making machines.
So, what I am saying is, growing a business as a task itself should not be that complex because many people do it. So, you can do it. The tricky part is the personal change that business growth requires because there is only one “you” and no one has gone through the change that you will need to go as “you”. You are the captain of this ship and only you know what, how, when.
I believe, in order to navigate this ship of personal change we must all develop self-awareness, but also self-acceptance. Your pace, your ways of doing things might not be the same as someone else’s and that’s fine, as long as you know where you are going, what you need to do, then you are making progress.
3. Cover the basics
There are some common areas of personal development for all business owners who want to grow and lead successful businesses and I guess there is no way around it. Whether you have a business that you would qualify as side activity, or you have a business which is your life project, it really does not matter, in my experience the following mottos enhances entrepreneurial life so it is my pleasure to share them with you:
- Make peace with the idea of failure
- Focus Focus Focus
- Transform your money mindset (if it is not helping you)
- Learn how to sell… no, learn how to enjoy selling
- Be religious about time management