THE BLOG

Vision - It's a Beacon Pointing the Way Forward

27/04/2015 12:42 BST | Updated 24/06/2015 10:59 BST

My business began over 25 years ago as a kitchen table start-up, making samosas on an initial investment of £2.50, but my unwavering vision was to make great-tasting, authentic Indian food available to everyone in the UK.

Vision - it's a light, a beacon pointing the way forward."

But vision without action is of no use - and as you grow you need the right people alongside you to help you achieve your ambition.

Most barriers are not gender specific. However, some women think that gender can be an obstacle to success. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Very often it's a woman's attitude that is the limiting factor, in many cases influenced by an upbringing and environment in which regrettably too many women are still brought up to be subordinate.

Of course there are always barriers and obstacles in life; some we can control, others we cannot. But gender itself should never stifle ambition or achievement.

I still draw inspiration from women of all ages and backgrounds. One such example is Scottish entrepreneur Michelle Mone, a former model who left school aged 15, founder of award-winning and hugely successful lingerie company Ultimo and a powerful, motivation speaker.

Inspiration often comes from within and can of course help to overcome challenges. However, many of the so-called barriers facing women in business are self-imposed and the three most common are mindset, modesty... and men.

Mindset is what can happen typically when an opportunity for promotion is advertised. A woman will often think she doesn't have the right experience or simply it's not a job they could do well - so they don't apply. At the same time, a man will apply - if nothing else, for the learning experience.

A woman may have the same qualifications or experience as a man, but won't project herself as forcefully. I was talking with an American friend about this recently and his view was that if you can't sell yourself successfully, how can you sell an idea?

I'm not talking about being aggressive or brash - just making sure you get the recognition you deserve. It's also about being positive and always having that glass half full, not half empty, mentality.

Based on my own experience, I advocate four fundamental rules for woman to follow in business. They are:

• Always believe in yourself. You are what you think. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

• Play to your strengths. Generally speaking, women are good communicators, so use this to your advantage. Effective communication is even more important when times are tough. You should always maintain a positive outlook - a 'Can Do' attitude. Positive minds look for solutions - and there always is one.

• Learn to understand what is important. You need to know what really matters - for you and for your team. It's as important to learn to manage upwards as to manage your team. If you take the time to really understand, you will be better prepared for challenges and opportunities. Trust yourself to trust others.

• And finally...don't be shy of making people aware of your abilities. Believe in your abilities and others will too."