As the Huffington Post is dedicating this month to us fabulous females with its campaign 'All Women Everywhere', I wanted to add a small contribution to the debate from my own unique experience.
As a woman in business, though there are still many glass ceilings to shatter, and the gender pay gap is still gaping, there's plenty to celebrate.
Being a female business owner, I've had my many ups, and some downs, over the last year. It's a steep learning curve, and your confidence does get knocked as your capabilities are challenged along the way.
When I left the corporate PR world to provide PR consultancy and training services on my terms - and for clients I wanted - I didn't expect it to be plain sailing. It is one thing having a big brand name behind you, but it's quite another being an advocate for your own business.
However, through sheer hard work, determination, authenticity and good old advice, I am glad to say that the pros far outweigh the con. My confidence is boosted in leaps and bounds with each client win or successful project, and I can say that setting up HK Communications is one of the best decisions I have made.
So in honour of 'All Women Everywhere', I wanted to share my top tips to all you fab females, whatever line of work you're in.
Own your place in the room
When I first started out in corporate PR, I had a bout of imposter syndrome. I felt somewhat out of place in big meetings. I was worries that everyone would think 'who's this young girl?'. However, my expertise spoke for itself, and it's something I learned to get over.
But once setting up my own business, those old feelings resurfaced. I was overtly aware that I was my business (and my business was me), and felt like I hadn't earned my place in the room. But this was in fact, was my own insecurity, rather than the view of others.
I have spent 10 years doing PR, before that I was a journalist, and I had many testimonials from happy clients. And of course, once I was in the room, talking the PR talk, I totally felt within my comfort zone.
So, if you ever get a bout of imposter syndrome, have a word with yourself. Remember that your experience has earned you your place in the room.
You don't have to say yes to everything
Let's face it, as women, we're blooming good at trying to do it all. Nothing is too big an ask. But one of the biggest lessons I learnt is that when it comes to business, the work you turn away is as important as what you accept.
Whether you run your own business or work for someone else, saying no is hard. You want to show initiative. You want to be the person who brings solutions not problems.
As a business owner, there is the added pressure of saying no to prospective clients. You want to stick to your principles, honour your business value (and market rate), but at the same time you've got bills to pay, and a client portfolio to build.
However, the danger of saying yes to everything is that you end up working on projects that may not help your overall objective. While these opportunities may seem like a quick win, they may do more harm than good in the long run.
In today's ever-changing landscape, you need to keep learning. Whether you're self-employed or working for a corporate, it's important to keep refreshing your skills to stay ahead of the game.
I remember I was working at a PR agency when twitter nearly broke the internet. Suddenly, we were all tasked with jumping on this bandwagon. It kind of helped that I ran my own blog, as I had a head start. And true enough, when I moved on in my career, social media was one of the topics that came up in interviews, and sealed the deal for my next role.
As a business owner, I'm still learning. And one of my biggest learnings is that I can't do everything myself. You see, when you're a startup, it makes total sense to be lean and want to save money. And with Google throwing up answers to just about everything, it's easy to think you don't need help. But here's the thing - you do need help, and that's OK.
It's virtually impossible to do everything yourself, and in the quest to save money, you sometimes lose more in terms of wasted time. I set up my DIY PR course for this very reason. I know that start-ups can't always afford to hire a PR agency, so instead spend hours trying to figure it out for themselves, with no success. So my course offers a shortcut, gets rid of the confusion and helps start-ups learn to do their own PR, without breaking the bank.
So, don't be afraid of learning new things. And if you struggle, don't be afraid to ask for help.
For all women everywhere, my message is simple, keep learning, keep moving forward and keep pushing against that closed door. You'll be surprised at what you can achieve.