Last week I introduced the ways that women tend to self-sabotage when it comes to being successful in business. You can read Part One for the details, but here is a quick recap of the first five mistakes:
· Not thinking big enough
· Fear of failure/avoiding risks
· Comparing to others
· Doing it all yourself
That last one is the perfect partner to the next mistake, so let’s get right into it.
It may seem like “doing it yourself” and “not bothering people” are the same thing, and they are certainly similar. But there is a subtle difference. The first one implies that you are the only person who can do something the right way. The latter is because you don’t want to impose on someone else.
It’s really a difference of mindset, between being too forceful and being too timid.
Men don’t seem to worry about this. They may not always ask for help, but they often don’t have much of a problem giving tasks to other people.
Since mistakes five and six are similar, it should be no surprise that the fix is as well. If you are leading a team, it’s vital to learn the skills and strengths of the members and then utilize them to achieve the best outcome. There’s a team for a reason, nobody is meant to do it all alone. Ask for help or assistance when you need it.
This one is both a slippery slope and slightly ambiguous. There are family commitments that often fall uniquely to moms. Scheduling the family (sports practices, medical appointments, after school care, etc.) is a major one.
Not to say dads don’t help out because many do pull their weight. But let’s face it, they’re not usually the ones doing the actual scheduling and often need to be reminded about who needs to go where and when.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of this.
The mistake comes into play when women (inadvertently) use it as an excuse for other failings. Late for a meeting? Sorry, had to take my kid to the dentist. Missed a deadline? My child’s semester project was due. You get the idea.
While those may be legitimate reasons, continuously using family as excuses weakens the position of power. Men don’t usually do this. If they make a mistake at work, they rarely cite family as the reason. They seem to know how to keep the worlds separate.
Compartmentalize. Work issues remain work issues, as do family issues. Rely on your partner to help make sure the family calendar runs smoothly. If you have a deadline that needs to be met, carve out the time at work to ensure that it is completed on company time.
Being a mom is a badge of honor, but that badge doesn’t need to be flashed all the time. If you keep work at work and family at home, both sides can flourish.
It shouldn’t be, because it’s probably been obvious all along. Again, business has long been a male-dominated sector, so they don’t usually have this concern. But you’ve fought to get where you are, why second guess and be worried now?
Look at Mary Barra (CEO of General Motors) and Gini Rometty (CEO of IBM). It’s a pretty safe guess that those women didn’t let this mistake concern them. Make it clear why you are the only female in the room. You’ve worked for it, now own it.
A female entrepreneur achieves her goals. She met a lot of people along the way, some of whom may have been pivotal in her success. But now she doesn’t have time for them. Or, worse, she treats them poorly. Think Miranda Priestly from “The Devil Wears Prada,” but on steroids.
This can occur for a few reasons. She might not have a firm grasp or feel confident in her position, so any other women (and men for that matter) may be perceived as a threat. She might have a management style that is good in theory but not in practice.
Or she might just be a mean person.
Men actually make this mistake as well. We’ve all had bosses who treat their employees poorly. But for men, it can be considered “being tough.” For women, she’s automatically a witch (replace that w with a b to get the real word she’s probably called).
Treat others with the same respect that is expected from them. People are almost always assets, especially if they helped along the way; cultivate those assets. Don’t forget who was there for you and how they made a difference.
In short, follow the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Once again, you’ve achieved your goals. You’ve taken the classes to get your degree or completed the training to get your licenses and certificates. You are your own boss. Now what?
This mistake is simply one of oversight. Chances are you have been so focused on getting to your “top” (whatever that might be) that you haven’t thought much beyond that. It’s common and it’s understandable, especially if you have faced many challenges along the way.
Male entrepreneurs tend to continue to look for opportunities to better their positions. That might mean seminars and conferences, or seeing what other jobs are open that fit their skillset and knowledge.
Continue your climb. Always keep an eye out for ways to improve. Keep up on the latest techniques or methods of your craft. Stay current with social media platforms. If you have younger members of your team, make an effort to understand what is popular with them. Never stop looking for ways to learn and grow.
So, there you have it. Ten mistakes that female entrepreneurs make that male business leaders don’t. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and as I mentioned last week, it may not be applicable to every female or male.
But take a close look at them and analyze your business habits to see if any of them fit you. Then go make the changes necessary to continue to excel at what you do best!
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