Author: Dr. Cheryl Cottle, Ed.D
Research shows that many individuals fail at entrepreneurship. Research also shows that while we have a high failure rate, more and more women are getting into business, but there is also evidence that while this is happening, there are many women entrepreneurs who are successful. The question is, what cause some women to fail and what cause others to succeed?
Entrepreneurship is a very difficult journey that requires the individual to have certain qualities and attributes to make a success of it. Research shows that many start-up does not have the right attitude towards entrepreneurship and therefore fail. What are some of the traits or characteristics that you need to be successful? Being a business consultant and mentor working with primarily women with their own business, I have found that these characteristics are the dominant ones that make for a successful entrepreneur. Research also shows that our success in life — in whatever we choose to do rest with you. Therefore who you are and the attitude and attributes that you have towards your business concept will help you to take it to fruition.
For some, this subject may feel oddly familiar, and it may shed some insights into why you haven’t yet reached your full potential. If you’re willing to work on yourself, it may even unlock the key to finally accomplishing what you’ve always dreamed of.
Fear is the number one factor that causes your lack of success — fear that you will not succeed — fear of the unknown.
Fear has the ability to keep us stuck and not moving forward. It often serves as a block in our lives. It is a crippling emotion that allows us to procrastinate and doubt ourselves. It allows us to question our abilities and not trust our decisions.
To move past our fears, we have to confront it and question ourselves as to why we have those fears. Are they real fears? We have to find out how you can move past them and move forward into your business venture or as a matter of fact, any activity that you want to achieve in your life. The first step to overcoming your fear is to accept that you have it.
When starting a business, we often start with a disadvantage. We do not necessarily have all the skills and expertise to run and manage our business — we have our strengths and our limitations. To bridge the gap between them both we must find the skills and knowledge resources to satisfy our business needs. This is one thing that we learn first up, when we are designing our business plan. To meet this need, you can either decide that you will develop the skills and knowledge that you do not quite have by using various approaches to learning. This however, takes a lot of time, though it is an effective method. Another approach is to recruit the right person with the right skills and knowledge sets to compliment your strengths and facilitate what the business needs to grow. This approach works very well and it has been a tried solution for many business women. However, in so doing you must learn to share your roles and responsibilities — communication and negotiating skills are required to make this work, together with the management style that you adopt.
As recommended earlier, a spiritual approach to management is best recommended because this approach is based upon compassion, respect and valuing the other. It is based on having the person who has joined you feel that he or she belongs; fostering a feeling-of-belonging will also facilitate commitment and dedication. Therefore it is important to create a culture within your business environment by practicing a management style within a management structure that is not based upon hierarchy, but one that is more flattened, where egalitarianism exist. This type of business structure and management style will enable you to benefit the most from outside human resources — the expertise of others.
Besides, having the adequate skills and knowledge sets required to build a business, as women in business, we also have other factors that affect our business growth and development —financial resources. Research shows that many women entrepreneurs who start a business either transitioned gradually or simply jumped into it. For those who have used a gradual approach to entrepreneurship, are able to slowly build their business, ensuring they have the financial and human resources to see it grow. For women, who have made the plunge into entrepreneurship often have many challenges including lack of finance, limited knowledge level, and lack of support. Women who find themselves in this latter position often have to resort to family and friends for support; who often will provide some financial support. For many women it is important to keep your job/work before starting a business, in order to have that steady paycheck.
There are cases where a business owner may have the administrative support to manage and grow her business, but her management style often keeps her from growing. In managing her business, many women use an approach to management that is based upon “command and control” — a very autocratic approach to management. This approach does not always work best in small businesses. Think about the negative effect your management style is having on your business, if this is your style and adopt a more collaborative approach one that is more spiritual in how you deal and respond to others. The latter approach allows you to bring people into your team and allow you to respect and value their expertise and one where you integrate them into your business.
While you might think this is the only way to get things done right, your need for control may be standing in the way of real success. If you can learn to let go, delegate, build a team of talented people and give up ownership — at least some level of ownership. If you are willing to do, you just might be able to save your business from closure.
Persistency and Determination: It is important to recognize how close you are to achieving your goals; it is important to one’s success. Often times we see things as unsurmountable and this allows us to procrastinate and put off what we can do today to another day and yet another, and most often, do not achieve it at all. Recognizing that your path is a unique path and not a carbon copy of someone else, we must learn to persevere and persist. We must believe that we have the capabilities and potential to do so. Simply hanging in there can make all the difference to achieving success and failing. Just having the endurance, persistence and determination to finish is what makes the difference in a winner of a marathon race.
Being able to bounce-back from adversity is a necessary resolve that you need to achieve success and not succumb to failure. On one of my Women in Business Radio segment that looks at “Spirituality and its ability to build Resilience to help us Bounce-back from Adversity” my guests and I spoke about how spirituality helps an individual in the face of any achievement or adversity. We agree that, having faith and belief in something greater than who you are and also acknowledging that you are also some one destined for greatness enable you to see yourself as unstoppable and fearless.
We sometimes encounter rejections in our lives, and for many of us we see it as a block. It prevents us seeking our dreams, but you should be mindful that when one door closes another opens — and you should be aware when those opportunities comes, for you to take. According to Oprah, a person who gives you a no, can only give you that. He or she has been devoid of more. Nothing can comes out of nothing. If you encounter an experience like this do not give up — keep your resolve. You will find that person who has the capability to provide you with the support that you need. I really do believe that we meet that saviour, or guardian angel — someone to provide the support when we most need it.
Engage in Continuous Education and Development:
Education and training is important
Invest time to hone your skills in business development. It’s advised that prior to starting your business, you should have had experience in retail, customer services, inventory management, and cashiering, to list a few. Engaging in learning through both formal and informal learning approaches will help you to gain the knowledge and skills that you may need. Online courses through social media groups are also a great resource to garner the education and training that you need to start and grow your business. Some groups on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook also have an educational component that is designed to educate and empower their memberships. These are great spaces to be a part of, and its advised that you participate in discussions where you can share your thoughts. Your active participation in activities like this one, is not intended for you to be right always or to score points, but to connect with others and an opportunity yo learn — to learn from the pool of knowledge that has be generated through these questions.
Continued investment in your personal development can give you the advantage to compete in this ever growing competitive marketplace.
To succeed in today’s economies regardless of where they are located, one must invest the time and resources to be a part of it and to succeed at not just your business, but in every aspect of your life. Having a coach, a mentor, a guru or a personal trainer can also serve as a catalyst for success.
Some of us have a pattern of starting a project with great gusto, but along the way our energies wane, and we give up. Some of us are also procrastinators, and we put it off, often never going back to it. If you set your mind on doing a project, you should also set a timeline to finish it. Your timeline can look at the project from a day-to-day basis or from a month-to-month projection or even from-a-year's perspective; let's say in five years I will have this completed. Each day, make sure you set an agenda as to what you can do towards its completion, and do it. Make sure that the goals that you set are also realistic. Do not bite off to much that you can chew. Using a gradual approach to a project, helps in its completion. It may not be finished in a month. It may take more time, but it will be completed.
It is also advised that as an entrepreneur or specifically a woman entrepreneur, you can also take a break away from a creative project. It's OK to give yourself "permission" to do so. Today's millennial entrepreneur are aware of that — and know that not every day they have to be high performers in every role and responsibilities that they do. Take time off to spend time with you. "Me-Time" allows you to relax, regenerate, and the opportunity to reignite your creativity and spirit of entrepreneurship. Taking a stroll or a walk — enjoy nature. Jogging also helps to clarify your vision. Gardening and journalling are also great activities that allow you to recreate and transform your perception of things.