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My work gives me a window into the businesses and personal lives of thousands of women. I love that so many women have built successful businesses by finding a useful and unique solution to an issue and creating a business to bring their solution to others.
My experience has proven to me that most women business owners are creative in thinking up solutions to the problems they see others having in life. Often, they’ve experienced that same problem, have crafted a path out of it, and then seek to share their solution with others. I’ve seen that exhibition of service and collaboration in the women I work with hundreds of times. Even the most recent Kaufmann index says that women excel at seeing gaps and seizing business opportunities.
A recent article in Forbes states that women now own over a third of all business in the United States. The dark side of owning a business, however, is sustaining that business through its growth. And that brings up the 3 worst mistakes I see women business owners making – mistakes that cause us distress, cost us missed opportunities, and sabotage our growth.
Gaining more formal credentials in the mistaken belief that more credentials will make marketing easier and automatically bring more clients or customers in the door. In over a decade of working closely with women business owners I’ve met only one (of thousands) who actually needed more credentialing. But most of those same thousands of women did need more confidence and tools to gain visibility and market themselves effectively. Gaining more credentials does not make you more client attractive or automatically enhance your marketing.
Resistance to hiring help. Women suffer from the “I can do it all and I can do it better” syndrome. I have clients who do half a million dollars annually in business and they won’t hire a housekeeper or a personal assistant. They build their businesses through constant and unending work but their personal lives are a laundry list of messy living conditions, clutter, and projects left undone. After working 8 to 12 hours a day on their business they still go home and struggle to find the energy to cook, clean, and do personal errands. Or they sit up half the night creating their own graphics. Or they tell me they’ve wanted to have a garden for 3 summers now but just can’t find the time.
Here’s the deal. At some point your business will level off because you have no more capacity, you will not be able to push through your fatigue level, and the constant reminder of the undone personal chores will suck more energy out of you. Owning a business means a blended life. Your business can’t be over the top while your personal life is dragging you down. Getting the help you need in your business and in your personal life creates open energy, fuels you, helps you rest and refuel. Quit feeling guilty that someone else cleans your house or runs your errands or creates your graphics. Quit resisting this phase of growth for yourself and your business. You’re sabotaging yourself.
Turning a blind eye to your finances. One of my own mentors carries two pieces of information with her at all times, one of which is her cash flow statement for the current week. She understands that what you pay attention to grows. For the most part, I see women entrepreneurs procrastinate over getting their books in order, saving for retirement, and knowing what their current overhead rate is. It’s magical thinking that if you don’t look it can’t be bad. I strongly advise that we know our numbers. Learn the basics of a cash flow statement and a profit and loss statement. From the very beginning tithe to yourself for your older age and for emergencies. You are asking your clients and customers to invest in you when they do business with you. Invest in yourself.
I’d love to see these three worst mistakes turn into the 3 best strengths of women business owners. I’ve created a safe and secret Facebook forum to share ideas and resources about life and business as one way to turn these mistakes around. If you are a woman business owner you are welcome to join the community (there is no charge). Just go to this link and request to join in the Salon for Women Entrepreneurs. I’ll be happy to see you there.