Updated: Aug 21
By Amanda Blesing
As women we are living and working in exciting times. Right now, there is a huge spotlight on gender diversity and encouraging women into senior roles, into industries that have been the purview of men traditionally and even into the entrepreneurial space.
However it would appear that women don’t need much encouragement when it comes to wanting to set something up for themselves. In both Australia and the USA increasing numbers of women are setting up small businesses. Sometimes this is in addition to their paid employment and sometimes it’s in place of their regular salaried employment.
Either way, women are beginning to carve out their own piece of the pie and quite clearly want a say in how their financial and personal freedoms turn out, that is not quite as reliant on other people’s good luck or poor planning.
The gender salary gap in Australia currently sits at about at 18.8% (which is worse than it was 30 years ago) and the more senior you go the gap widens to up to 45%. ANZ Bank has recently capitalised on this quite cleverly with some very slick media and advertising that estimates that this gap pans out over the span of a career to around $700K. So it’s no wonder women want to do something about this.
So as we women are starting our own business ventures we need to learn different ways of behaving, thinking and being in order to be happy and successful in our new ventures. The old approach of waiting for feedback from someone else, or waiting for your CEO or boss to tell you what to do next, or relying on the Board to dictate strategy simply won’t cut it in a more entrepreneurial world. And the reality is that in traditional paid employment comes the benefits of sick leave, annual leave and temp staff to cover you for when you can’t make it in to work – yet frequently when you first head out on your own, those things are seen as a luxury and will feel like they are coming out of your own pocket.
'You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.' Marianne Williamson.
So to help you get started here are three new ways of thinking that will help you become successful much faster.
1. Stop being busy, start being strategic
Okay so maybe you were the star performer at your old workplace, but working for yourself is an entirely different ball game. When you are running your business or entrepreneurial venture you are chief operation officer, chief cook and bottle washer plus you get to design and deliver the strategy. Do you know how hard it is to think strategically when you are overworked, over whelmed and feeling underappreciated in the early days of your venture? And when you feel like that, it’s very easy to default back to operational mode - which is where you feel most comfortable because its where you’ve spent most of your working life.
Additionally as women, we’ve been socialised to be busy, to keep busy, to do things well, not to cut corners, to do things properly.
“The devil makes use of idle hands” was something my Gran would say. “Eek!!”
This socialisation not only plays out to keep us busy and/or looking busy, but busy work also wears us out. Sometimes too as women in the workforce we frequently put our needs, desires and wants second to others in our lives. We might be biding our time waiting for kids to leave school, the husband’s fast track career or business idea to come to fruition, or perhaps family obligations. However, we know from observing highly successful people that doing the job, being operational or putting yourself won’t cut the mustard when it comes to standing out from the crowd or executing big audacious moves. So stop a moment. Take a breath. Take time to reflect. What can you do that will help you work smarter not harder? What, or who, can you leverage? How can you position yourself so that people come to you, not vice versa? Stop being busy and start being strategic – and you’ll get where it is you want to go a whole heap faster.
2. Build resilience with some failure practice
Who knew that practicing failure could be so helpful? Certainly not most women that’s for sure!
We socialise our young girls to become perfectionists valuing doing things right and doing things well. But the reality is that success correlates just as closely (if not more so) to confidence as competence according to Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. And being resilience and/or buoyancy in the face of mistakes and failure is an important part of building confidence. So think about failure like this:
— If we are scared of failure we don’t take risks, we play safe, we play small.
— If we always colour inside the lines, we end up doing things the way they’ve always been done and there is zero need for creativity.
— If we keep on doing what we’ve always done we’ll always get what we’ve always got.
As soon as we learn to let go, to make mistakes and to go outside the lines, we begin to understand that perhaps the way things have always been done is in fact flawed. The results of many mistakes are frequently not that bad – just different (with a few exceptions such as working in medicine of course). When we colour outside the lines, new solutions to old problems are easier to see – and maybe that new way of operating that you just discovered by accident fills a gap in the marketplace and could in fact become your big ticket to success anyway.
3. Learn to accept rejection
Unless you’ve got a product or service that’s got genie genius (like a never ending packet of Tim Tams), the reality is that in your first year or two, you’ll have to face rejection. A lot. And rejection when it’s for something that you do at a larger organisation is one thing. But rejection of your own ideas, products or services that you’ve lovingly crafted, selected and tended for months, is a whole other ball game.
So instead of resisting rejection – make a game of it like Jason Comely, a freelance IT guy from Cambridge, Ontario did. Jason was terrified of rejection so he designed an approach to immerse himself in his fear in order to lose the fear. He decided he needed to get rejected by someone at least once per day. And by making a game of it – by needing to get his rejection, this turned the actual receiving of a rejection on its head. In fact it made receiving a rejection a good thing! He couldn’t wait to ask someone for something because it got him closer to his goal of getting his rejection.
“Jason had totally inverted the rules of life. He took rejection and made it something he wanted — so he would feel good when he got it.”
So how does it work? Well if you are scared of rejection then you won’t put yourself out there in situations where you will get rejected (i.e. making those sales visits). But if instead your goal is to get 10 rejections per day, then you’ll need to make a whole heap more sales visits as a result in order to achieve your goal – and then you totally lose your fear of rejection pretty fast.
Hazel Walker, speaker and co-author of the cheekily named book “Business Networking and Sex” speaks about this same approach in a recent presentation. She shares about the differences in the ways that men an women network and that one of the things women can do to get over our fear of asking for a sale is to turn it into a game of getting lots of “no’s”.
“Women do not connect to the word “power”, yet power has great impact. As women in business we must understand, embrace, and own our power.” Hazel Walker
Because not stepping up, speaking up or giving our big meaningful ideas the credit they are due, can keep you feeling stuck and frustrated – draining us both personally and professionally. By being more strategic, learning to make mistakes and treating the sales game as a getting a no game flips the equation on its head and puts you back firmly in the driver’s seat of your own dreams.
— If you missed it - 10 game changing practices to keep you firing at your best.
— Amanda Blesing is the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and art of amping smart and savvy.
— She mentors busy professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game.
— She also works with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so.
— If you enjoyed this article please head on over to www.amandablesing.com for more or sign up for her e-newsletter right there.