Recent studies and news reports have surfaced about the lack of women in leadership positions worldwide (example here and here) and the reasons behind it. Simply said, women need to work to create their own economic realities. I’m not saying here that we can’t. What I think is intriguing is that we haven’t.
Men dominate the boardrooms, C-suites and world affairs. We pay so much attention to race but so little to gender. I happen to be writing a book with the great @AnneDGallaher about some of these issues and we hope to get it published in the next few months (#exciting). So why are there so few women in leadership roles? I’d LOVE to hear from you women out there—and hey, chime in, because maybe Fox News in New York will find this and focus on this issue. We love @FoxNews and they have picked up this blog before, so you never know. That’s why I love blogging—you just never know who will stumble across your work. This is advice I give my clients all the time.
Here are my tips for women to CREATE THEIR OWN ECONOMIC REALITY (in today’s male world):
1. Think like a female. We women are strong by design. Study some women of history. What did they do? Think non-mainstream and think beyond what is “normal.” Dream big, think big and know you can do it differently. Want to start a business? Be who you are. We ARE the primary consumers and family decision makers. We KNOW what sells.
2. Own what you do. If you can work for someone else, you probably can work for yourself. Are your skills worth purchasing? What do you think your skills are worth in the workforce? If your boss had to outsource you by the hour, what would that cost? In my PR firm, we often base fees on what we bill per hour combined with the value we bring. Are you worth it? Can you put a price tag on what you can accomplish?
3. Do the research. Read, read, read and research. Never cease your quest for information. It is powerful and it is mandatory for creating your own economic reality.
4. Know thyself. Ask yourself these questions: Do I have to be in control all the time? Do I have to be right all the time? Does everything have to be perfectly organized for me to succeed? Do I need all the answers first? If you said “yes” to these, you may need to think harder about your role in business. We don’t have control, we can’t be always in charge and we aren’t going to be right all the time (although we think we are). Human nature says we are imperfect, which makes us pretty good at leading because as women we are more likely to learn from our mistakes, admit others’ strengths and yield to those better equipped to do whatever the task at hand commands. As women we know what we don’t know—a definite advantage in business.
5. Woman up. We hear “man up” bantered about all the time, which has me thinking: What would “woman up” mean? Here are my thoughts…
My point? Women in business have the advantage. We can present ourselves in the soft skills that men cannot and we are expected to do so. We can change our hair color and men really can’t. We can wear a pink suit with a pearl necklace. If a man wore a pink suit…well, save that for a Super Bowl commercial or something.
6. Get some back up. I don’t mean guns, police or anything crazy here. I mean that if you are a woman owned business, you need some good help: a great banker (Dana Burkett), a great lawyer (Glen Gilmore and Charlie Hill), a great CPA (Matt Patrick and Chip Marston) and some darn good co-strategists (other businessmen and women who will help promote you). In many and most cases—unfortunately—mine have been men. Don’t get me wrong, I love men and most of my clients are MEN. Women could not get ahead without men and so cheers and thanks to all the men out there who help women succeed. We need more men like that.
7. Create your business plan. Do it right, do it well and be sure to have some professional eyeballs review it. There is nothing like capturing your goals on paper and having to hold yourself accountable. It’s important.
8. Expect to work harder than you have ever worked—ever. Owning a business creates your own economic reality for sure, but it also demands full-time, constant effort. The old saying, “you get out of it what you put into it”, has never been more true.
9. Do well, live well. If you are lucky, your business will flourish and you will leverage this. You’ll have the ability to share the wealth by employing people, teaching others, passing down the talent that you have. That has been and is one of my greatest joys of owning a business—teaching other women how to do it and how to create opportunity for others.
10. Enjoy the ride! After 18 years of ownership here are a few ways I am enjoying my life created by my own business: more personal time and family time, more beach trips (and I take my staff to the beach for a week each year), more time on the Tennessee River with my BFFs, more fun trips like my cooking trip to Italy a few years ago (another one overdue), my time with my friends I’ve made through social media, time to write a book with Anne Gallaher, time I’ve spent in New York and New Jersey with Glen Gilmore and friends and time I’ve had to do public speaking! This year I am honored to be asked to be the emcee for #SoSlam (www.socialslam.com) in April, the best and biggest social media for business conferences in our state. This list could go on and on…
In short, we women need to step out there and take advantage of the many opportunities that exist. If you have or think you can create your own economic reality, I’d love to hear your story —please chime in and tell me all about your experiences. If you are a man who supports women doing this, please also chime in!