I’m taking a stand! I see far too many women getting in their own way in business and I have to say I have been one of them. It is time for a change. I’m actually starting to advise some of my own clients on this as the issues come up.
#1 We over apologize.
If it isn’t your fault, don’t apologize. We are allowed to sympathize with clients and employees, but apologizing implies you did something wrong. People will take advantage of this and it can get in your way for growth. Don’t apologize for your pricing. Don’t apologize for your opinions. Don’t apologize for just being you.
On the reverse side, if it is your fault, apologize. But just do it once (assuming it isn’t a major f-up!). I tell my staff that if you make a mistake, apologize, then make it right and move on. We shouldn’t have the same mistakes over and over again, but we are allowed to make mistakes. If we as women wallow in the mistake and/or apology, people will take us less seriously in business.
#2 We don’t ask for the business.
I definitely struggle with this one. I didn’t get a client because he thought I wasn’t interested. I foolishly thought he’d reach out to me when he was ready to buy. I lost the opportunity. Now, I’m not comfortable with hunting people down to get business. That isn’t my personality and that isn’t the type of culture I want to create.
Instead, I make sure I leave the door open. I make it clear that I’d love to hear more about their business and see if there is anything we can do to help them. I make sure I’m approachable and resourceful for them. I also try to make sure they know I’m in business to make money. I think men are better at this, but there is no reason they have to be. What is the worst someone will say? They can’t buy from you right now?
#3 We skirt around the point or add too much information.
I just had a client do that the other day. She was trying to get paid from a client that is WAY behind. She said she couldn’t keep working for them, and then added it was becoming a financial hardship on her. Since I was copied on the email, I simply replied to her and said she didn’t need to explain the financial hardship. The truth is, her client probably doesn’t care.
I simply told her that there was no need to explain why she needed the money. She did the work and is owed the money. Stand up for yourself and demand it. You don’t have to be rude, but you don’t have to skirt around the issue either.
#4 We act like administrators.
Just because we know how to use the copy machine or write a letter properly, doesn’t mean we should be doing this for others when we are in an executive position. Instead, it is our job to make sure our people are trained. Take advantage of the knowledge that most men don’t have and make sure you are growing your people.
I worked in a business where a VP had moved up from an executive assistant. It was an amazing accomplishment, but she never got rid of that administrator mentality. I just need to do what my boss tells me to do and do it quickly. Don’t be a slave to your client or boss. We got where we are because we earned it. Now use your brain to strategize and grow that business and step away from the copier!
#5 We close our doors.
Back to this VP, she had her door closed constantly, but every other man in that office had his door open. When we close ourselves off like that, we close ourselves off to opportunities and growth. I see it as saying I’m looking out for myself and I have to get my shit done.
Sadly enough, I haven’t had too many female mentors. I don’t see many women trying to train and bring up our staff – either male or female. But on the other hand, I see men finding their proteges all the time and managing them. Why aren’t we doing that? I’ll let you in on a secret. If you have proteges working for you – you can look better in the eyes of the execs, you don’t have to do as much work because they are doing it, and you get the fulfillment of being part of someone’s growth. So, open your doors!
This is the end of my rant. I’m not going to apologize for it. I’m going to be proud of it and keep inspiring women to take a stand for themselves in business. So, now it is your turn. What drives you crazy about women in the workforce? What can we be doing better?