Every year on March 8th, thousands of events are held across the globe in recognition of International Women's Day. The history of International Women's Day (IWD) runs deep. Its roots go back to the early 1900s as a day created to inspire and honor women and celebrate their accomplishments.
Today, IWD continues to deliver an important message about many of the equality issues that affect women worldwide. It's a call for significant changes in all facets of life--such as increased financial independence for women, the need for more women in leadership roles, growth of women-owned businesses and support for women in science, engineering and technology--just to name a few.
"Make it happen" is this year's International Women's Day theme, which I believe is particularly inspiring and representative of the times. This phrase, "make it happen" is also a powerful mindset to adopt as an entrepreneur.
When I started up my consulting business 23 years ago, the thought of running a business was, initially, intimidating. Traveling the entrepreneurial path is not for the faint of heart. Things like self-doubt, fear and poor leadership skills can sabotage any business plan in short order.
Yet, when you have the drive and inner stirring to "make it happen" it gives you an incomparable edge. It builds momentum. A grand vision is needed to succeed in any business venture--particularly for women.
Statistics confirm that the US is in a favorable position to foster high potential female entrepreneurship. There is of course room for improvement. Entrepreneurs--both women and men--need better access to capital, technology and training in order to succeed.
Here are 23 things I have learned as a business owner over the past two decades:
- Find a trusted adviser and asked to be mentored. Whether it's an individual or an advisory peer group such as Vistage, never stop seeking input from others.
- Focus on what you are grateful for--take notes, journal, make lists. This is important to help you remain positive.
- Keep an open mind. Come to understand a situation by asking better questions. Judgment and assumptions will only impede your progress and alienate you from others.
- Where there is a will--there is always a way. Set personal and business goals often. Dream big and visualize your success. #MakeItHappen
- Follow the Golden Rule: Take care of your employees and your employees will take care of your business (which in turn, will take care of your bottom line).
- Always do your best work; you never know who is watching.
- Do what it takes to "know thyself." Understand your strengths and vulnerabilities. In my experience as an executive coach, a good majority of leaders fail or derail in their career because they lack interpersonal skills.
- Always go for the win-win in any situation. Collaboration over competition.
- Show Appreciation. "Face to face" words of encouragement for a job well done costs nothing to give, yet the ROI is invaluable.
- Observe what's going on outside of your industry. An awareness of business and cultural trends can help spark creativity and innovation.
- Your most challenging relationships--be it clients, employees, friends or family--are an invitation for personal growth.
- People operate from 90 percent emotion and 10 percent logic. (Note: see #7--Interpersonal skills and a strong sense of emotional intelligence are important keys to success).
- Surround yourself with people who have skills, talents and styles differing from your own.
- Always look at the big picture first, then the details.
- Don't take work that doesn't resonate with your core beliefs just for the money, it's never worth it.
- As long as there is a victim or a villain there is no peace.
- Meditate or practice the art of mindfulness. In today's 24/7 plugged-in culture, it's more important than ever to seek moments of stillness and introspection.
- Continually educate yourself, personally and professionally. Make time to follow your creative passions outside of your work.
- Trust your intuition--it's always right.
- Be aware of your beliefs and be open to shifting your perspective in order to view the world in a new light.
- Never underestimate the power of networking.
- Cash flow is king--got to have it.
- Take responsibility no matter what is happening. Don't pass the buck or play the victim.