How to Become a Successful Woman in Business
At one time or another, we have all questioned whether we have what it takes to make it in business. There are countless checklists and personality assessments available online to supposedly help you determine your natual business aptitude. They can be fun, thought-provoking, and interesting, but it would be best to ignore the results. Most of these tests ask questions like “are you an optimist?” or, “are you a good leader?” They pose the cliché and superficial questions “are you creative?” and “do you work well with people?”
So how do you learn if you can be a successful entrepreneur? Check out this advice on determining your leadership potential and three qualities of a strong businesswoman you can develop with some effort.
No Clichés Allowed
No one is an optimist all of the time and being overly optimistic at the wrong time can actually lead to making poor business decisions. A successful businesswoman often needs to be a team player—or serve as an inspiration—and not insist on always being in the lead. Having an open mind is far more important than being a “creative” person and rather than claiming to be a people person, it is much more useful to have a good understanding of the people you will be working with.
For example, working with family members is a far different thing from working with unrelated employees, and almost everyone can get along with easy-going folks. So shouldn’t the question really be, “can you work with difficult, annoying, and whiny folks?” because these are the customers and employees you are most likely to hear from—the ones with concerns, complaints, and demands.
All people cannot be lumped into one category, so being a “people person” is not a requirement in business. More important is the ability to put your personal feelings aside to make logical, fact-based business decisions—not emotional decisions to please other people.
Three Qualities to Develop
There are three very simple qualities entrepreneurs should have—or be willing to develop—that are meaningful assets for starting and running a business successfully. Notice the key word here is “develop,” not “already have"—the desire, willingness, and ability to learn new skills and habits can contribute to any businesswoman’s success.
One of these qualities is an attitude you can adopt, one is a skill that can be easily learned, and the third is a personality trait few of us come by naturally but which can be mastered with a little practice.
- Best Business Attitude: A refusal to quit when things get tough.
- Most Valuable Skill: Networking. Networking. Networking.
- Strongest Personality Trait: Having thick skin (being objective).
An optimist might look at the bright side of things and serve as an inspiration to keep pressing forward, but a pessimist may assess things more realistically and make less risky decisions. Either way, it is not necessarily how you see a situation, but how you respond to a situation that will either hinder or facilitate your success in business. A true entrepreneurial attitude requires refusing to quit when things get tough.
Even the most successful entrepreneurs have to do things that they are not happy about in the short-term but are glad they did in the long-run. In fact, some people who see an accomplishment as less than ideal may work harder to achieve even better results. Refusing to give up on something should not be confused with just being stubborn—the key difference between being stubborn and being tenacious is that stubbornness stands in denial of a problem refusing to accept a need for change, while a “can do” attitude works through problems by considering a variety of solutions.
Few things will help you establish and grow your business faster than a creating a strong network. No one person knows it all or can do it all, so if you isolate yourself and your thoughts, you isolate your business as well. Having access to a variety of resources can increase your efficiency and knowledge, your business’ publicity, and your chances of succeeding.
If you do not have much face-to-face contact with others in your field, you can still work on building a business network in other ways. Start by joining professional groups online, developing press releases, brochures, and other written communications.
Another great way to build networks is to simply participate in forums, e-mail discussion lists, and chat rooms that somehow relate to your business or the type of customer you want to attract. Use personal and other social opportunities to network yourself and your business and always have a business card handy when an opportunity to make business connections presents itself.
If you take everything personally you will have a much harder time accepting ideas and change, and you will never get the most out of your business or your employees. Having a thick skin is crucial to success, as you will need to be willing to listen to new ideas and actively solicit the opinions of others. Always treasure new ideas and opposing opinions, don't rebuke them.
The ability to accept constructive criticism will help your business stay on the cutting edge and avoid potential problems you might not be able to see on your own. By showing that you value the opinions and advice of others, you will appear more approachable to your peers, employees, and customers.
Even if you do not actually follow others' suggestions, the more you ask what they think, the more valued they will feel and the more loyalty they will have to you and your business. In other words, simply by soliciting input from other people you create a positive mini-public relations network. People will talk about you and how your business is run so you should help them find positive things to talk about.
- Networking Beginnings: Ask others about their challenges, successes, and if they have any advice about your own business ideas. This is the first step to begin building your network.
- Do Not Give Up: When they say you are crazy, listen to their concerns, but don't just give up on your idea. Instead, reassess its value from other points of view.
To evaluate if you have what it takes to make it in business you do not need to answer questions in self-assessment quizzes; instead, you should be asking your own questions. Talk to other business women, peers, colleagues, family, and friends—anyone you might be able to learn from. Just be sure to listen to the answers with more than just your ears and remember, it helps to have a thick skin.