The future of business is female, and it’s knocking on the door now.
The issue of female power, representation and self-sufficiency have never been more topical than right now. Anyone who thought the glass ceiling had been firmly shattered, or that battles for gender equality were a thing of the past has had those ideas turned upside down over the past few years, as a movement like MeToo put gender struggles firmly back in the spotlight. Now is a crucial moment to be a female entrepreneur, as it is only by founding communities and redefining the norm that the insidious creep of sexism can be halted in its tracks. Women need other women – to run businesses, to become employers, and to be customers. A diverse, tolerant business landscape has huge positives to offer from tapping into so much unrealized potential lying dormant in marginalized groups. New opportunities are squandered by sticking to a formulaic approach to the distribution of power. Yet there is no denying that the world of high-level business is still overwhelmingly dominated by those who have been unfavorably described as ‘pale, male and stale’. This can throw up certain additional difficulties that female entrepreneurs need to navigate in order to make themselves and their businesses successful. It still isn’t a level playing field, but there is much to be gained from the wisdom of women who have already forged their own way in running a company and overcoming all the challenges that entail.
Call Out The Status Quo
There are a lot of accepted norms out there that are still designed to challenge female business leaders, and while it may have been the approach of the power-suited business mavens of the 80s to assimilate, today’s modern female entrepreneur has a more effective weapon at her disposal – using her voice. Challenging the status quo is getting progressively easier, in part due to the very nature of business these days, where the most successful start-up models are based on shaking up traditional ways of doing things, like Uber challenging the traditional taxi market. The culture of taking these risks and not quietly acquiescing to something because it’s ‘always been done like this’ has taken flight and resulted in some huge success stories – and profits talk. That culture makes it easier to challenge other aspects of the business process which may be less favorable to women – such as restrictive working hours that don’t work with childcare arrangements. Speaking out has a snowball effect as well, so be armed with the positives of disruption and be vocal about changes you see that need to be made – you never know what the reward may be, for you and for others.
Don’t Limit Your Dreams
Too often, the societal conceit of girls and women being encouraged to be modest, to accommodate the feelings of others before those of themselves, and to be self-effacing, places limits on what female business leaders will dare to dream – which is at odds with the need of the entrepreneur to have almost insane amounts of belief in themselves and their business. From the nursery, girls are consistently labeled ‘bossy; or ‘queen bee’ for displaying attributes that would be praised as assertive and adventurous in a male. This can’t help but have an effect further down the line. Never underestimate your own potential, or be ashamed of having expansive ambitions. Aim high and even if you only get halfway there, you may have achieved far more than you originally hoped for. Equally, those with big dreams inspire others, and it is the role of the business leader to have this magnetic effect on clients, potential investors and their staff. So find the courage to dream, and you unlock the potential of yourself and others.
Overcome Your Fear Of Failure
Failure is seen in somewhat of a shameful light in traditional societies, but innovators have learned a valuable lesson – that failure is actually the most important part of eventual success. Because when it all goes wrong, there is far more insight to be gained than from when it’s plain sailing – these are the real opportunities for business growth, and therefore, the most exciting times for an entrepreneur. Failure is a critical part of the development process, so you must learn to embrace it, as not doing so can stifle growth and ambition and lead to missed opportunities. In fact, the only real failure is in not even trying. Keep your enthusiasm for trying new things alive, and you can only benefit your company.Published in