I have the honour of being a mentor for the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and was recently asked to provide an online session for their mentees, all of which are women in developing countries. The aim of the session was to provide strategies and tips to help them overcome the challenges they may face.
Below is a summary of the thoughts that I shared, which have insights for all business women, wherever they are. I decided to focus on the following areas, which in my experience often undermine women in business:
E radicating self-doubt
"Your personal success is tied to your ability to build a network of people who you can look to for help and advice" Jerry Bruckner
Women who start businesses in developing countries often have a lack of support from those around them. This is not necessarily because those closest don't want them to succeed, but more around their fear, need to protect and lack of knowledge. If you are the first in your family taking the leap into running your own business, expect some resistance, you may be challenging the thinking of those around you. So how do you cope? Well developing a support network of like-minded people who understand your vision is a first step, seeking a mentor or coach can provide a great sounding board and guide. Finally rewarding yourself is critical, you see when you are not receiving praise from others, you really do need to give it to yourself. Finding things to reward yourself for daily and acknowledging your success really helps.
"The key is not spending time, but in investing it" Stephen R Covey
Every entrepreneur will tell you that time management is a challenge, structuring your day, distractions, ideas and procrastination are just a few of the issues, but when you have caring responsibilities on top of that, your business can end up coming second, or worse still neglected. My advice:
*Tell yourself that you have enough time for what's important and decide what that is
*Rewrite your rules on time, who says that you should do 9am-5pm
*Do the stuff you hate first, if will leave you free to make the most of your day
*Break big jobs down into manageable chunks and do a little at a time
*Plan your time, so that you use it wisely.
"Confidence comes after the Act"
Self-doubt is top of my list on derailers for your business. You must have the right mindset, however messages that you have received in childhood, events that you haven't unpacked and worked through and impostor syndrome can all fuel that gremlin in your head which questions whether you can actually run your own business successfully. My tips on how to build your confidence are to 1. Increase your self-awareness, know your strengths and get feedback in order to develop. 2. Articulate how your unique combination of qualities, attributes and skills serve yourself and others. 3. Act, do the thing that scares you, once you've done it the doubt disappears.
'Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away' Barbara de Angelis
Women typically give a lot of themselves and as a result suffer from feelings of guilt, anxiety at not being able to do everything that they think they should and a sense that they should come second. Not all women feel like this, but those that do, feel torn between priorities and can easily become burnt out and unwell. As a woman in business you will want to dedicate yourself to your venture, there is no doubt that hard work will be needed, but this must be balanced out with space to refresh and re energise. I feel strongly about this, and I say in my book that not looking after yourself is a selfish act, because others are relying on you, such as staff or your family to be there. Prioritising time for yourself can also be helpful for your business, as when you are most relaxed and actually do switch off, your mind is more creative, solutions and ideas emerge. You can empower others to take the reigns, they'll benefit from the challenge and you'll have more space for you. Not prioritising you is a dangerous message, are you not important enough?
Take Action Now
Look at each area in STEW. Mark yourself out of 10 on how well you are doing and then Mark yourself out of 10 on the importance of each area for you. If its important to you and you're not doing well, that's the place to start working. Good Luck.
You can view the presentation here
and I'd like to share a wonderful message I received from the Cherie Blair Foundation as a result of my webinar
What would you have added?
See my website http://wwwrockingyourrole.com for resources to support you.