I’m a woman in the business world. Not a man’s world—but a world comprised of good people and bad, liars and cheaters, givers and takers, nurturers and assholes. It’s the world we live in and my life is the one I chose. Had I known years ago owning a company was going to be as hard as it is—I would have done it anyway. It’s been tough and rewarding.
I started my first car detailing business at 16. Since that time, I’ve worked in many male dominated environments from being a sheriff’s deputy and forensic photographer to a dog musher living in Alaska. In 1996, I founded a successful web design agency which I sold in 2000. In 2000, I founded my current digital marketing agency, Oneupweb. I’ve learned a few things along the way. Some of the lessons were pretty tough. It would have been nice if someone could have given me a heads up.
Here are a few of mine that I thought I’d pass along.
1) You can be as respected as a male business owner.
If you don’t have a sound business and something real to offer, no one will place faith in, or respect in you—man or woman. Alternatively, a smart woman that has her act together can be just as respected as a man in any business climate. Smart people respect good ideas and legitimate businesses whether they’re led by a female or a male.
2) You will sacrifice—sometimes a lot.
Yes you can have it all but not all the time. If you’re a mother and/or spouse, you likely can’t be as available in mind and spirit as you might be in a non-owner situation. You will give up time with your kids somewhere—more than once. You will be distracted (thinking about business) when your spouse is talking to you. At times you will be seriously stressed and snappy—it comes with being human and occasionally overwhelmed. On the other hand, you will likely have financial advantages and the freedom to rearrange your schedule for those big, can’t miss events. And the good days will be really, really good.
3) You need to find something early on that will relieve your stress.
Find something whether its sky diving, reading a book or working out. Your health and mental state need to be cared for on a regular basis. And no—a business networking event doesn’t count. Make sure you fit time for yourself into the schedule. If you’re sick and tired from overdoing, you’re no good to anyone.
4) If you are driven it may be viewed as overbearing.
Being driven will often be described as bitchy, demanding, controlling etc. Employees/clients won’t understand your priorities and men in particular may be threatened by your drive. Strong women get a bad rap but don’t whine about it. Be fair, consistent and uphold your standards. Those folks that align with you philosophically will get it and become great advocates. Those who don’t won’t be a good fit in the long run.
5) You’re tougher than you think.
Many women underestimate the load they can carry or the sticky situations they can deal with. And with each win you will grow smarter and more confident in your abilities. If you have a tough night getting to sleep, remember that your problems will usually seem less significant in the morning. You know that old saying; “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” It’s true—just don’t become a whiner.
6) You’ll likely be more trusted by prospects and clients.
Just as men sometimes have an advantage in the business world, women do as well. And it has little to do with appearance. In a business climate, a woman’s word is gold and it’s been my experience that there’s little doubt that we’ll keep it. As a gender, we’re known for caring, seeing a job through to the end and paying attention to the details.
7) Women are all fluffy, nice and want to be friends.
False. Some of the meanest people I’ve met in my business career have been women. I’m not talking about the driven woman I describe above. I’m talking about the real bit** that is perfectly willing to stick her stilettos deep into your back as she climbs her way up the proverbial ladder. Or the one who claims to be a friend only to find out later she’s using the info you shared over cocktails to steal your next prospect. Like in life, be careful who you trust. This leads me to my last point below.
8) You will become cynical.
Sorry, but years in the saddle—getting taken by some scammer, not paid by a client or screwed over by an employee will cause deep seeded cynicism. It’ll likely take some time but you’ll get there. You may develop a protective outer layer or just keep people at a distance but when you find yourself there, try hard to see through to a person’s inner being. Not everyone is bad or out to get you although at times it’ll feel like it.
No dramatic close to this post. Feel free to contact me directly through LinkedIn or email me at Lisa@oneupweb.com. And, if you’re in search of a digital marketing agency, I encourage you to reach out to me to talk about working with Oneupweb. In fact, I would be flattered if you did. We help small businesses grow and mid-sized businesses grow bigger—quickly, reliably, affordably.