I was at a networking meeting and another business woman asked me about my monthly support group. She asked me if it was for women only and when I said ‘yes’, a chap jumped in and loudly announced that he totally disagreed with my group as it was sexist.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get much chance to get a word in edgeways to discuss this comment as he proceeded to do the usual “I’ve got a kilt so I’ll come and wear that” and continued to talk about himself with no interest in finding out why my group is set up the way it is.
But how many others feel that women’s business clubs are sexist? How many others do not understand the importance of having gender-based clubs?
For anyone interested, here is why I restrict my business support groups to women only.
Women in business have different needs to men. It’s a fact. Women struggle with issues that generally affect them more than men. These include:
Having go carry on going with hormones playing havoc with emotions including self-confidence, depression, weight fluctuations etc
Running a business and being pregnant has its own set of challenges. How long can you continue to work, how long until you return to work, how to cope with morning sickness, how will your business run effectively whilst you are not able to be on hand 100%.
At the other end from pregnancy is menopause. Some women sail through this but many struggle to the point they feel they can no longer continue. It’s a subject far too detailed to go in to here but anyone who has not experienced the trauma first hand, cannot possibly fully understand.
Yes, you could argue the case on this one, but in general, for a woman to go out the door for business takes a lot more thought and planning than for a man. Think:
- Tights that don’t snag
- Makeup that will last the day and won’t run
- Heels that are comfortable to wear all day
- Consideration as to how any dress wear will be viewed and if it gives out the wrong message– too low cut, too short, too tight.
Whether walking to meetings alone on a dark night or meeting male clients alone, extra thought can be needed. Think Suzy Lamplugh. No, it doesn’t happen often, but the statistics are far higher for women being attacked than men.
Being taken seriously.
Yes, unfortunately, even today, a woman introducing herself in a male dominated environment can be subject to prejudice and outdated presumptions.
Balancing business and family
Yes, I admit a generalisation here as I personally know a few men facing this challenge, but the norm still tends to be the woman is responsible for sorting childcare, support for elderly or ill parents. This leaves them torn and stressed when having to choose between working late or another weekend yet again or taking care of their family.
With all the above aside, women tend in the main to deal with business in a different way to men.
Their selling style is different, they usually prefer a softer approach to selling than a more direct one used by men.
They tend to be more afraid of failing and suffer a lack of confidence. Much of this can stem with others looking at them with scepticism from the start whether they are starting a home-based business which can be viewed as ‘just another hobby’ or entering a male dominated industry.
I could go on and on but hopefully by now you get my drift.
Buy why a women’s only business club?
I run a women’s only club so that other women can come and discuss any issues in confidence and safety with other women who understand what they are going through. They want an environment where they can be open and honest and let the barriers down. They don’t want to go to a meeting where they feel they are once again having to prove themselves and keep up the brave face.
They don’t have to be afraid of ridicule or being seen as weak by male attendees. They also want to come with no hidden agenda, not having a man tell them ‘I noticed a young and attractive lady on her own so had to take the opportunity to come over’. Yes, this still does happen!! And was actually said at the networking meeting I was at!!
My meetings are not sexist. They are providing a need. Women’s only clubs can have more of a supportive, collaborative feel than many mixed groups where the competitive nature can be more apparent.
As mentioned in the article No boys allowed, having a women-only environment opens a comfortable space to start intimate, important conversations that might not otherwise happen. Personal subjects can be discussed that may otherwise be left unsaid if a man were in the room.
I’m sure this post will spark controversy, so if you have an opinion one way or the other, feel free to leave a comment below.
What to do when you wake up and realise you are going in the wrong direction and need to get your business back on track
Yesterday during another fabulous business group get together, more than one lady in the group had the same feelings. They were feeling uneasy because their businesses weren’t fulfilling them as much as they had expected.
They weren’t full of excitement when they thought of doing what they are doing now in 10 years time.
They had come to the realisation that rather than following their absolute true passion, they had taken the easy option of doing something they were good at and brought the money in quickly.
Whilst this could be viewed a sensible option to start with, it’s just not sustainable.
Two particular ladies were going through difficult times and had lost all excitement and enthusiasm for their business. They just felt as though they had fallen off track.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin
What you need to learn in building a successful business, is to be adaptable.
You need to be prepared to amend your success plan and goals subject to mitigating circumstances. We never know what is around the corner and how our plans may have to change. If you aren’t where you want to be, you need to find a way to get your business back on track.
It is rare for a business to end up as it was first planned. A fact that I heard personally from an ex-Dragon of Dragon’s Den fame is that nearly every business that starts out does not end up as initially thought.
And when I did a survey a few years back, this was the case in 100% of people that I spoke to. You may find that you enjoy one particular part of your business more than another and so start to work in a specific niche area.
This is exactly what has happened to me. I set up my business consultancy to support local independent businesses face to face in the North Devon area.
Slowly it transpired that I was working with a lot of women who found they were struggling in business due to external influences such as confidence, family commitments etc. So, I adapted my business to just work with women and to incorporate lifestyle coaching. I then started to get enquiries from outside of the North Devon area so set up online support and workshops for those who couldn’t get to me in person. Hence, The Small Business Kit was born.
Luckily, the ladies yesterday had the support of the group and both left feeling motivated and inspired to move forward with some changes to their existing businesses.
If you aren’t feeling the love for your business anymore, dig deep to find out what your passion truly is and look for what changes you can make to keep your passion, and business, alive long term.
A HOME OFFICE VERSUS AN OFF-SITE OFFICE
Which office type is best for your business?
Every company or business establishment have their own office space where customers or potential clients visit them to conduct business. An office is a place where all professional matters are handled and any business transactions are conducted. Having an office premise gives a professional image to a business and is preferable for many small business owners.However, some people find working at an office inconvenient whether from commuting time, restricted opening hours if the office is within a shared building etc. Or, they may simply not be able to afford the premises. Therefore, many small business owners decide to run their business from a home office.
How do you choose?
Working from Home
Home-based business owners set-up their home office where they handle all work-related tasks. In fact, most set-up their own home office where they can entertain clients and business associates at home. Many find this a convenient set-up since they can attend to their work while being able to still spend time with their family.
However, the accessibility of the comforts available within your home, it is easy to fall into the wrong idea that you are not working. Hence, you need to develop a sound level of self-discipline in order to separate business from pleasure and focus on what you need to do at work.
Which is better?
There are several considerations that one has to make before deciding whether to opt for a home office or an off-site office instead. Each one has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, it is difficult to conclude that one is the better option over the other. The best way for you to decide is to come up with a checklist of these pros and cons. Then, determine whether the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa.
Also, you need to consider your own attitude towards work. If you are the type of person who had to be constantly reminded and lacks the initiative to work on their own, then setting up a home office could be a devastating idea. Below are a list of pro’s and con’s that would help you come up with a decision.
Home office: Pro’s and Con’s
- You have more freedom of flexibility in terms of working hours.
- You can reduce costs such as office rental, fuel usage (from driving to and from the office), and tax deductions.
- It is convenient since you won’t have to dress up just to get to work. You can have your breakfast or spend time with your family and then conveniently check your email.
- If you’re the type who needs to get motivated to work, a home office might not be conducive to you getting your work done.
- There are a lot of potential interruptions at home.
- There are a lot of home office considerations to make such as securing all office equipment you need at home, office furniture, and some other operational needs.
Off-site office: Pro’s and Con’s
- The level of pressure and urgency motivates you to produce quality work.
- The working environment is ideally designed to make working easier for you.
- You have access to all of the equipment or tools you need to conduct your work.
- You have to commute from and to work daily. It becomes more difficult for those who live far from the office.
- Dealing with other workers within the building can be difficult for some, especially with clashing interests and personalities.
- The expense or renting the premises
The decision is now yours as to which is best for you and your business. Whichever you choose, ensure you have everything you need to hand in your premises and make it a professional, yet comfortable place to work.
Here are my top 10 tips to make 2018 your best year yet
Be the best
Be the best version of yourself that you can be. Whatever you are doing give it your absolute best.
Dream big and step outside your comfort zone to achieve your goals.
Focus on your priorities. Choose these wisely and focus on them above everything else.
Choose activities that will take you closer to your goals. Focus on money making activities not scattergun time wasters.
Eat that frog
Eat that frog! Whatever is important; do it first. Create a morning routine to get the important things done first before you turn on your phone or computer.
Spend time every day visualising your dreams and goals. Have a vision board. Take a picture of this and keep in your purse. Keep looking at it. It’s powerful stuff!
Ask yourself daily “What can I do to make a positive difference today?” Then go do it.
Keep learning from the best. Read daily, listen to podcasts, follow those who have been there and done it. Spend 30 minutes each day soaking up positivity and focus from these people.
Look after yourself
Take time to relax all by yourself. Eat healthily. Exercise regularly. Get enough sleep. A healthy body and healthy mind will drive your forward more than anything else.
Make memories, not money. Spend time with family and friends. Give them your undivided time. Life is short, and no amount of money will make up for missed moments.
HOW TO DEAL WITH OVERWHELM AND GET THINGS DONE
At various times in our life, we find that there is so little time and so much to do that our minds get so full of to-do lists that seem to never end. This inevitably ends up with us getting trapped and unable to move forward as we do not even know where to start.
Try some of the ideas below to help empty your mind of these never-ending swirling thoughts and to be able to move forward with a clear vision.
Replace Negative Self Talk With Positive Self Talk.
Be kind to yourself. Negative thoughts are those that stop us from doing what we really want to do. This negative self-talk tells us that we have failed and are so disorganized that we can’t go ahead and do things. It tells us that we don’t know enough, are not good enough and don’t have the skill or talent to make our small business a success.
Unless you really commit long term, you will never know what your ability or capacity is. Take some time to be kind to yourself and think about how you can do it rather than how you can’t. Write down a list of all the strengths and skills you already have that will help you achieve your tasks. Eliminate “I can’t” from your vocabulary. You can always learn a new skill set but you must change a mindset in order to succeed.
Clear up incomplete tasks.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by how much there is to do? Do you have all types of to do lists? Have you done a walk-through inspection of your home office? As you look around your office space, you may notice things that have been left unfinished. Make a list and take time to conquer each of these incompletes. Replace, fix, or toss items that are damaged. Buy items that will enhance your environment and your productivity. Get rid of the old items that are cluttering up your location. Better yet donate them to your local charity. It will be someone else’s treasure. If you have not used it in a year, do you really think you’re still going to use it? Pack it up in a box and if you do not use it in six months, give it away! The item is not serving you well and you’ll be amazed at how much lighter you feel.
Write down your to-do list.
Don’t rely on your memory to remember everything that you need to do or accomplish. Some of those tasks may be daily and monthly, or even yearly. Buy yourself a diary in which to jot down all those things you need to get done. As you write down what it is you need to accomplish each day, you will have a clearer picture and focus on the things that you need to get done. You may break them down into different tasks and delegate them.
Determine your priorities.
When you decide what your priorities are in your business you can better channel your energy to accomplish those priorities. As you take care of your priorities, the rest of your life tends to move with ease because you are focusing on what really matters to you. You may find that a lot of those things that were clogging up your mind were really not important after all and can be scrubbed off your list.
Work on your biggest action items first.
When you have a deadline to finish a big project, it can be a bit overwhelming. Some projects seem larger than others. We can often talk ourselves out of what we need to do by changing the subject or choosing to do an easier task first. We tend to put these important tasks to the side and even procrastinate when approaching that task. However, when you start with the biggest task item first the other tasks seem to be that much easier. By doing the hardest or most difficult task first, you will be more motivated to continue with the rest of your list.
Cut down on the number of webinars and TV shows you watch.
Think about the webinars and recordings that you watch. What purpose are they serving you? Are they merely entertainment or educational? How do they benefit you? By cutting down your viewing time a half an hour each day, you are gaining more time to do other things that will be more fruitful in moving your business forward. It is no use keep on watching to learn new things if you never actually put them into practice.
Check your e-mail only twice per day.
Email is a time waster; we can get drawn into emails that do not help us obtain our goals. Allocate certain times of day to check your email, perhaps you need to let people know that you will check your e-mail at specific times during the day. This allows others to know that you are busy and they will have a better sense of when to expect a reply from you. Unsubscribe from mailing lists that you have joined over the years.
Clear and prepare your desk for the next day.
This process can take about 15 to 20 minutes on average. Throw out anything that you think you do not need. Use the one-touch paper method. When you touch paper, you need to decide if you are going to file it, deal with it, or dispose of it. Paper clutter can overtake our lives.
Take a break from what you’re working on.
There are times when you need to get away from the computer and your desk in order to clear your mind so you can look at your project again with fresh eyes. When we have been working steadily, we can lose sight of our vision of the end result. Sometimes, if we spend time away from a project and then later go back to it, we can think more clearly and generate many new ideas. The best way to clear your mind is to sit in silence and write down whatever thoughts come to your mind. Write down the crazy and extreme thoughts, these are the ones that can lead to creative thinking. You will be amazed at the results; some of your ideas could be groundbreaking.
Stress reducers like exercise, meditation, and prayer are fabulous ways to de-clutter your mind. Exercise not only rejuvenates us and keeps the blood flowing; it also helps our body to get in the best shape ever. Meditation is wonderful for clearing the mind. Prayer gives us hope for future and beliefs and we can achieve.
Declutter your mind daily. Each time you declutter your mind you make room for new ideas and opportunities. You will feel calm, cool, and collected and ready to take on the challenges and opportunities that come your way.
Related article: Having a mini meltdown
If you are running your own business, when was the last time you updated your cv? Probably not since you went self-employed I am guessing. Well, why would you? You run your own business and are not looking for a job so there is no need.
But just stop a moment. This could be a really useful exercise to determine if you are the right person for the job. And I can’t take credit for this idea. It came from my husband.
He was made redundant recently, quite out of the blue. He had been employed for many years so his cv was wholly out of date. We sat down together and I helped him update all his information. Some of this was work related but there was also a host of transferrable skill he had picked up from hobbies such as work with the local football team.
He was so nervous when we started but when he read it back, he was a little taken aback. He couldn’t believe this was him. He thought the cv sounded too good to be true. But every word WAS true. He had just failed over the years to realise how many talents he had and what assets he had that other people wanted.
It was then that he turned to me and said he thought everyone should have to re-do their c.v. every six months to give themselves the confidence boost that he had gained.
And it got me thinking. What a good idea.
How about you go write a job description for the perfect person to run your business. Remember to list all the essential skills required and the additional desirable skills. Ask the question as to why the applicant would like to work for the company and why they feel they are better suited than anyone else.
Now go apply for this job. And be honest with yourself.
One of two things may happen.
Firstly, you realise how bloody wonderful you are and what skills you have to offer to the world. This can be a huge confidence boost as in the case of my other half.
Or, you may realise you are lacking a skill or desirable asset. And if that is the case, as you have now identified this, you can go find out how to fill that gap in your skill set. This will only make you better and more effective at your work which in turn, will help your business grow.
Have a go and let me know in the comments how you found this exercise.