What Does it Mean to be an Empowered Businesswoman?
Being an empowered businesswoman can mean many things. Here’s a few we often hear: being authentic and willing to chase your dreams, fighting for what you want, being bold and creative, and empowering other women. Women business owners in Canada are becoming a powerful force – if you’re interested in some statistics, check out my infographic called “Canadian Women in Business.”
We hear the phrases so often that we tend to gloss over them rather than think about what they mean on a practical level.
Be Authentic and True to Yourself
When I grew up, women sought guidance and permission from the men in their lives about big decisions. Starting a business? Sorry, little lady, that’s beyond a women’s capabilities. Why aren’t you thinking about marriage and children?
Being authentic and true to yourself means never asking permission. It means setting a course that is best for you. Yes, we have obligations that influence the decisions we make. But, authenticity means finding ways to integrate those obligations into our business goals, not to stop working towards those goals.
Chase your Dreams
I don’t know about you, but I see this idea everywhere. Some days I get annoyed because yet someone else who doesn’t know me is telling me to go after what I really want. Life isn’t always that easy, is it?
But maybe the point isn’t about how easy our dreams are to achieve. Nobody says they’re easy – at least, I hope nobody says that. The point is that we can’t wait for our dreams to find us. To truly be an empowered businesswoman, you have to find ways to achieve your goals. That may mean starting your business dream on paper years before you’ll be able to accomplish it.
Why bother planning so far in advance? Because your business dream likely won’t be a sprint. It will take time and planning and the sooner you start the sooner you reach your goals. Besides, seeing your dream written out can be a powerful incentive to take daily steps towards it.
Fight for What you Want
In line with chasing your dreams, you may need to fight hard to realize them. But that is part of being an empowered businesswoman. When you take control of your life and go after what you want you will eventually get there.
Sometimes the obstacles can seem overwhelming. And as women, it often feels like we have to fight harder to get to the same place as men. We’ve all been in that situation where we simply don’t see a way forward. Well, part of fighting for what you want is reaching out to those who can help you. That’s not taking the easy way out, that’s navigating around obstacles. And really, if there is an easier way, why wouldn’t you take it?
Be Bold and Creative
Women can tap into their intuition if they learn to trust themselves. It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve come to realize that my ‘gut feeling’ is often right and I’m learning to trust it. Yes, I examine why I feel a certain way to make sure my decisions are best for me in the long run. But my first instinct is usually correct.
Using your instincts and creativity allows you to be bold and do the unexpected. Just because others do it one way, doesn’t mean you have to follow. Make your own rules. An empowered businesswoman is willing to look for options and new ways to achieve her goals.
Empower Other Women
Being an empowered businesswoman means you have the strength to help empower other women. I’m part of two grassroots initiatives that are women-centric and I’ve seen first-hand that women who work together become an unstoppable force. I’ve seen women with no resources other than their own willpower create incredible change in their communities. And more women are doing the same in the business world. Being generous with your time and expertise creates a network of strong women that you can draw on when you need to and builds your own capacity as an empowered woman.
So how do you actually implement this? Because, in the end, we still need to take action to make change. Here are a few ideas – I’m sure you’ll have more and I’d love to hear about them in the comments section.
I’ll go back almost to the beginning of this post. Become an empowered businesswoman by creating a plan. Dream big and don’t be discouraged by the size of your dream. I’m going to go against conventional advice and tell you to forget about SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based). What are your really big business dreams – the ones that seem out of reach. Take an hour and write about what that looks like. Don’t censor yourself – this is not the place to worry about what you think you can’t do.
Now spend some time thinking and writing about the large steps you need to take to get to your big dream. Again, don’t worry about goals that you can accomplish today. These are 5-, 10- or 15-year steps towards the big goal.
Keep your writing and go back to it regularly. This is your lodestone.
Okay, now it’s time to come back down to earth. You know where you are today and now you know what your 5-year goal is. Break those 5 years into 1-year increments. You’re still looking at this with a macro lens, so don’t get bogged down in the details. Regardless of where you are in your business, list the major things you will do over the next 5 years such as business and communications plans, funding, marketing, expanding your current store, or opening new locations. You may be in a position to do these things more quickly – if so, shorten your 5-year plan. Just make sure you are realistic about the time and resources you can commit.
Now you need to set up your SMART goals. What are you going to do in the next year, how will you measure your progress, are your goals achievable and realistic, and have you set firm deadlines for meeting them? Every month, review your goals for the current year and decide which goals to meet that month.
As you reach your goals and continually move towards your big dream, you’ll build momentum. And if you stumble, you’ll always have your lodestone to help you get to the next step.
Create a Powerful Network
I said that to be true to yourself you need to follow your instincts and not ask permission to make big decisions. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a one-woman show. Allies, whether family, friends, or business associates, are your biggest resource.
A good way to create a network is to begin with friends and acquaintances who have similar interests. Meet regularly to get advice and support each other.
But one of the best ways to create a network of people that you can exchange knowledge and ideas with is to actually go out and meet them. Now, I’m not a big fan of networking because I always feel awkward when I meet new people. But I also come away from networking events feeling more confident because of the people I meet. If you aren’t comfortable networking, check out this post about networking tips from my friend and colleague Tracey Anderson.
Live Out Loud
I know this phrase is quickly becoming a cliché, but I really think it applies here. An empowered businesswoman isn’t afraid to be herself. Yes, your business may require you to censor your social media posts, but that doesn’t mean you need to deny who you are.
One of the things I strive for in writing for businesses is to help business owners use their authentic voice. If you are naturally humorous, snarky, strong, or shy then don’t hide that. Be you.
I am my business, so if someone isn’t comfortable working with me based on my social media presence or political views (which I save for a personal account), then I may lose them as a customer. But that is likely better for me than working with someone who thinks I should change.
So, whether you do your own writing or hire someone to write for you, don’t hide your true self in your communications. Whether you’re writing a blog, a business report, or a social media post be honest about who you are and how your business works – you’ll feel better and your customers will appreciate your honesty.
What does being an empowered businesswoman mean to you and how do you practice it in your daily life?