Women who rise through the ranks in corporate enterprise are often at risk for being pegged "aggressive," "unemotional" or perhaps being seen as the "queen bee" by subordinates within the workplace. Leadership has traditionally been viewed as a masculine trait, so women who are decisive and take charge are often labeled as such. However, there has been a recent a shift amongst women entrepreneurs that is causing jealousies of their male counterparts.
October marks the celebration of Women in Small Business Month. I felt it appropriate to showcase some of the ways women entrepreneurs specifically are working smarter by supporting each other.
I spent some time speaking with Slawsa owner, Julie Busha, who has recently been been honored as the recipient of Progressive Grocer's 2015 "Top Women in Grocery" award, to get more of a first hand insight on the topic.
Julie feels that because women entrepreneurs have such high expectations of themselves in terms of work ethic and proficiency, that it causes them to appreciate that same drive in other women. Ultimately, this creates a mutual respect for each other. Unlike men, who often times see each other more as competition, even if they're not in the same industry, it's socially more acceptable for women to help each other. Julie feels women are perhaps a more mindful and nurturing sex.
Julie Busha is just one small business owner who embraces helping her fellow woman. She is rising above stereotypes. These are 4 ways she is doing it:
1. Pass Along an Opportunity
Julie has been fortunate to meet and really get to know many other women through an entrepreneurial group that she is a part of. When she sees a media or marketing opportunity that may not be a great fit for her but rather someone else she knows, she drops them a note to let them know about it. Julie figures that the more you're willing to help one another, the more opportunities arises when someone else will let her know about an opportunity that she would be perfect for. While that isn't always the case, paying it forward makes her feel good.
2. Pooling Resources
Julie understands that we're all insanely busy running our businesses. However, she knows that if you have commonalities with another entrepreneur and you can divide and conquer tasks for a mutual goal, you can cut your work in half. She has several ongoing projects where she works with other women business owners. She always asks herself why she should work alone if she can work together with others.
3. Woman-crush Wednesday's
Unlike the traditional woman crushes popularized by celebrities where you think a fellow woman looks good, entrepreneurial woman-crushes are ones of mutual admiration and respect. Julie says women want to promote each other's businesses and journey's through social media, email newsletters and the like. It is becoming more and more clear that women are the decision makers when it comes to many purchases within the household. Because of that, Julie feels that it is better to help each other market to a larger audience.
Julie mentors both men and women owned startup food businesses, but she finds that women feel more comfortable asking questions of a female mentor as opposed to a male. Regardless of sex, Julie asks herself why she would she not want to help a fellow entrepreneur who could be going through something she already has encountered before. Julie feels that if she can help them avoid past mistakes she made, or to guide them to their own success more quickly, it is her responsibility as a fellow entrepreneur to do so.
The shift is very real. Strong women entrepreneurs are no longer being labeled in the same manner that their corporate counterparts are. They're finding mutual respect and genuinely want to see each other succeed. It's a "pay-it-forward" mentality that women have figured out. Women are using this method to not only propel their own businesses, but to help each other as well.
Are you creating synergies with other women to get ahead? I'd love to hear more about your personal story. Comment below!