(Last updated September 30, 2019)
How do you help empower women-owned businesses? If you struggled to answer this question or can backdate your last involvement to March during Women’s History Month, it’s time to make a change by being the change. It might take a little effort at the start, but paying it forward pays off in the long run if you start now and stay committed to empowering other female entrepreneurs and small business owners. Here’s how you can easily step up to the plate 365 days a year.
- Set a good example as a woman leader in your organization.
Everyone remembers the bad boss they had in their lifetime. This was the person that micromanaged them, didn’t trust them with projects or assignments and might have even belittled them. When one comes away from an experience like that, they generally tend to make a silent promise to themselves never to abuse a leadership role if they are given one.
If you happen to be a woman leader at your organization, use your powers for good. Be kind and thoughtful to everyone on and off your team. Work hard and be committed to your role, but be open to feedback and encourage creativity and new ideas. This kind of behavior will influence everyone else you do business with, from partners to employees. You never know how many people will be inspired and motivated by your actions!
- Maintain perspective.
From publicly disagreeing with someone in the office to reacting to reading an email written in a condescending tone, just about anyone can succumb to letting emotions get the upper hand. However, rather than let frustrating moments in business push you over the edge, the best thing to do is to be the bigger person and maintain perspective. Focus on formulating your response first, rather than your reaction.
Step back and calmly reassess the situation. Consider what is a priority and what is not and then handle items smoothly with a little thought and consideration for all parties involved. If you make a practice in doing this, you’ll find what seemed to be initially exasperating wasn’t worth getting worked up over. Much like setting a good example, your behavior will be positively viewed by those around you. This will allow yourself to be seen as a true professional and will empower others to emulate your behavior.
- Connect women with awesome female mentors.
In 2017, McKinsey & Company released a study called “Women Matter” where it was revealed that better decisions are made when more women sit at decision-making tables. However, many women are unsure of what they can do or who they can talk to in order to get a seat at the table.
Do you know a smart, passionate woman who works hard and is searching for a great mentor to help guide her where she needs to be next? Do you also know another woman, who is established within her career and eager to provide advice to the next generation? Connect the two together so that a strong mentor-mentee relationship may begin to take root. Continue doing this so often as possible — and don’t be afraid to be a mentor either if someone with a similar career path to yours reaches out and asks! Being known as a connector of valuable people adds to the value of your personal brand.
- Don’t try to be what others want you to be.
You don’t need to be quiet when you know you must speak up. You don’t need to act “like one of the guys” to impress your male counterparts. You should not have to hide the unique aspects of your personality that make you stand out in the business world. Beyond being yourself, don’t try to fit the mold for what others want you to be. Let what is different about you guide you forward and watch as it empowers everyone else to think — and keep thinking — outside of the box. Chase your passions and the things in life that bring you joy beyond your work. Pursuing dance, yoga, a new language, martial arts, crossword competitions or whatever your personal passion might be fosters happiness, confidence, and strength of character. By focusing on your own growth, you’ll be more apt to and available for other women who will need your support along the way.
- Find the support you need.
Nothing about running a business is easy. Part of building a sustainable business is fostering a community around you on which you can lean for inspiration, education, and commiseration. Understanding when you need help is a sign of strength in leadership. Knowing where to find the help you need is an entirely different challenge. Don’t be afraid to ask those in your network for help in connecting with a business coach, mental health professional, HR professionals, etc. Join our Facebook Group, The Small Business Water Cooler, to connect with a group of like-minded small business owners like yourself – it’s a great place to start getting connected with those who want to support you!
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.