Superwoman Entrepreneur

Are you a guilt-free Superwoman entrepreneur?

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Every year, when I hand out the award in the ‘Female Entrepreneur of the Year’ category, I raise the same question. In 2018, is it really necessary that we still award a separate trophy, in a separate category, for ‘women only’ finalists?

As a society, surely we’ve evolved beyond this and we both see and regard women as our equals and us (men) as theirs?

Do we not diminish the performance of the female entrepreneurs in the same way one can argue that the performances of players of colour are diminished because of sports quotas? Does the fact that the other categories like ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’, ‘Best Overall Business’, ‘Fastest-Growing Company’ and ‘CEO of the Year’, where we always have a plethora of female finalists, not argue that exact point. Women already compete head to head with their male counterparts in the entrepreneurial space and, therefore, don’t have to stand back at all.

While I raise the question every year at the awards night, I still believe emphatically that a ‘Female Entrepreneur of the Year’ award is valid, relevant and necessary. Women are generally quite impressive but a woman that is also an entrepreneur is, in fact, the Superwoman superhero. Not only do they have the usual strains and stresses of the entrepreneurial journey but they’re often doing so with little and, sometimes, even no support at home. They’re constantly juggling being the mother, homemaker, nurturer and the entrepreneur… and everything else that goes with those roles.

Yet most women entrepreneurs walk with this constant feeling of guilt that they’re just not enough for everyone. They’re constantly reminded of their short-comings, often by their own inner voice, and experience the need to just run away and hide.

To fix this, start with these easy steps:

Ask around; don’t trust yourself

I can guarantee that your reality, the one created by the voices in your head, is not the reality. Ask around and get feedback from those very people you think you’re failing. Ask them this: “What about me are you most grateful for?” Give them time to think about it and ask them to actually write it down for you. They need to put their gratitude on paper so that you can reference it again and, possibly, again and again. Make sure you include your spouse, children, parents, staff, shareholders, clients and friends. Their true reality may shock you and will most certainly bring tears of joy to your eyes.

Schedule balance

There is no such thing as a work-life balance. It’s a fantasy we’re trying to achieve but it doesn’t exist—at least not in the short term we’re trying to focus on. A work-life balance cannot be attained over the course of a day, a week or even a month. Use a quarterly focus and make sure you schedule balance (i.e. with a diary entry and reminder) across all the critical areas in your life. If it’s scheduled in advance, you’re more likely to stick to it. Include the important things—not urgent things—you need to get to and make sure it spans both your business and personal life. A monthly date night with your spouse every second Thursday evening, for example, is a great start. One play date with each child per quarter, rolling around on the floor laughing, is perhaps another. From a business perspective, you could schedule monthly finance review meetings, and so on. Make sure to include, at least once per quarter, some “me” time. Schedule some time for yourself to simply take a breather. You not only deserve it, you need it.

Ask for help

No one wins if you do not. Whilst those who depend on you love all your superpowers, I’m sure they love you even more. Without you around, there would be even more chaos, so stop trying to do everything for everyone. Ask for help. Even Superwoman sometimes needs help. Ask for it and then accept the help graciously.

Repeat after me… “NO”

Every time we say yes, at the same time, we are effectively saying no to something else. You cannot say yes and keep pleasing everyone else. While you may not like conflict or even mildly disappointing someone, it’s part of life. Get used to it. You need to say no more often and in doing so, you’re focussed on your priorities and not everyone else’s.

The entrepreneurial journey is difficult enough but when you add the additional joys of being a woman, it becomes a superhero effort. Make yourself a cup of tea and spend some time implementing the abovementioned. It will revolutionise your business and your life. 

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