Women in Business: The Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Women in Business: The Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make
As someone who has built a successful and well-respected female-run catering company, I think a lot about what it means to be a woman in a position of authority. It’s difficult, and mistakes can be made, but you can also learn from the difficulties I’ve faced so your path can be a little easier. Here are a few lessons from someone who has been there and done that (more than once)…
Never Give Up Your Inner Fire in Favor of Politeness
Sure, manners are important, especially when you’re in a customer service-based industry like hospitality, but being polite isn’t everything. As women, passion for our work can often be mistaken for aggressiveness or worse. That can make us feel like we need to be timid and reserved. Here’s the thing, though — taking a back seat to our business is a recipe for failure. Don’t hold back. Don’t let others take the lead when you know better. Be 100 percent you and 100 percent engaged, no matter how those who feel threatened might view your intensity.
Keep Your Confidence
There are three main things that can sap women’s authoritative power incredibly quickly: apologizing for having an opinion, staying silent and minimizing the things they’ve accomplished. Many of us do all three. I know how difficult it is to kick these habits to the curb, but not addressing these issues is like leaving a pot on a burner with no supervision. Eventually, all the water is going to boil away, and you’re going to have a scorched mess on your hands. Believe in yourself and your abilities and don’t forget to check in on yourself from time to time.
Don’t Let Your Maternal Instinct Take Over
Pardon the generalization, but women do tend to be more forgiving than men. We want to give people the benefit of the doubt, and we’re not immune to stories of woe. It’s good to have a big heart, but there has to be a line drawn between being understanding and being taken advantage of. If an employee is late to work because a child is sick, that’s one thing. If your client is three months behind on a bill, that’s another. You can be compassionate and still be a titan of industry — it’s all about balance.
Always Value Your Staff
This one isn’t limited to female entrepreneurs, but it’s important enough that I have to mention it. Running a business is a juggling act except, instead of one person seeing to a handful of balls, there’s an entire group of people trying to wrangle an ever-changing amount of tasks. No two days are the same, a problem can crop up at any time, and you can’t do it all. Hire people you can trust and let them know that you value their hard work and dedication. You may not always be able to pay out bonuses or be Ms. Nicey Nice when a client crisis hits, but a nice word here and there will be remembered. For your staff, appreciation is quite literally priceless.

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