Whether you’re new to the world of entrepreneurship, still in the beginning stages and feeling your way around, or are experienced, you probably have a lot of questions. The good news is that there is a lot of advice for entrepreneurs of all stripes. The not-so-good news is that it can be overwhelming. And if you are a female entrepreneur, there may be some additional questions that plague you. But once you zero in on the issues that are most important, you’ll find you could benefit from a woman mentor or a woman coach. And women coaches can be found all around you. You can get advice from a woman coach without leaving your seat.
Many people have navigated the world of owning a small business successfully, but no matter how big the success, all have had challenges they had to work through. Thankfully, some female business owners are passing on their wisdom to others, falling in line with a relatively new approach of women coaching women. While they may not be coaches in the real sense, these women are coaching other women with their advice, offering some gems of wisdom they’ve gathered, either from hard-won experience or from the expertise of mentors or other experienced people they’ve encountered.
Below are a few tips from these women coaching other women.
Women coaching tip #1: Shake things up
Linda Rottenberg, co-founder, CEO of Endeavor Global and author of Crazy is a Compliment, who has been called the “entrepreneur whisperer” by media outlets including ABC and NPR, has taken persistence to a whole new level. “Stalking is the most underrated startup strategy,” she tells thebalancecareers.com in the article, “6 Women Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Advice.” She recounts that she followed one venture capitalist into the men’s washroom and persuaded him to be her company’s chairman. While I wouldn’t quite recommend this, you’ve got to admit that takes chutspah. Talk about going the extra mile!
She also said, “Chaos is the friend of the entrepreneur. If you want to disrupt the status quo, you want a little chaos,” in an interview on Silicon Valley Forum. 1 Shaking things up is necessary to getting where you want to be. Be bold (without breaking local laws, of course). There are times when you may have to go outside of the rule books and take actions that may be unorthodox.
Women coaching tip #2: Nothing succeeds like failure
Kavita Sahai, a former coach and founder and CEO of Have BIG Plans, a company that connects entrepreneurs with business coaches, also offers some tips for female owners. The consultant and investor advises women to not be afraid of failure. “Often, women are more affected by failure and let it affect their confidence. Don’t let it,” she says in “10 Great Tips to Empower Female Entrepreneurs.” Failure is an unavoidable component of success, and we can learn from it. She mentions a quote from the late comedian George Burns: “I honestly believe it is better to be a failure at something you love than a success at something you hate.”2
Sahai also extolls the benefits of networking, saying that if you want to have a large and successful business, you must reach out. You must get over your fear of being rejected and treat networking as though it’s a job. “The amount of collaboration and connections that can be gained by a large but close network is invaluable.”
Women coaching tip #3: Be careful of the company you keep
In lists of the best advice for women entrepreneurs, we may not think about the effect the attitudes we encounter may have, but it is important. Intriguingly, one of the pitfalls Sahai says to guard against involves an attitude: avoid doubters. She warns that you will encounter people who won’t get what you’re striving to do. “Try to avoid these people or at least any work conversation with people that do not inspire you to move forward.”4
Women coaching tip #4: Play the numbers game
Looking for investors pose their own set of challenges, especially when those investors are male — as they will be, statistically speaking. In “10 ways women founders can outwit ‘mansplaining’ investors,” CEO and investor Alexandra Stanton, who has helped businesses raise capital, informs that for women entrepreneurs, knowing the stats about your business is vital. This woman mentor says to make sure you know the size of your marketplace and know your numbers — financials, projections and business metrics — backwards and forwards. “As a woman, you will constantly fight the inherent assumption that you know less about an industry than a man,” she says.5 Being on the ball with this information will combat this assumption and work for you.
Women coaching tip #5: Be frugal
It may sound unfair, but biased attitudes about women are still out there and we must deal with it. There is an assumption among some men that women will spend money unnecessarily in their businesses because they do so in their personal lives, Stanton mentions. Women business owners can work around this by spending money only on the essentials. “It shows investors you won’t waste money on anything frivolous. Let male investors know that you’re willing to build a company by using Starbucks as your office until you can’t avoid getting office space.”6
Women coaching tip #6: Blow your horn
Talk to people, advises one Denver woman entrepreneur. In “Female entrepreneurs’ best advice for aspiring business owners,” Orion Brown, founder of The Black Travel Box, an e-commerce site that sells travel personal care items for women of colour, explains that many women who grew up in male-dominated industries were told that being bold wouldn’t help them get ahead. But when you’re the head of your own company, trumpeting your strong points is the best thing you can do. “Some of the best connections have come from casual conversations where I’ve taken the initiative to talk about what I’m building with The Black Travel Box,” she says in the article on Nbc.com. “Family, friends, acquaintances, the folks sitting next to you on the plane. They’re all fair game and could lead to solutions to business challenges and strategic partnerships you hadn’t even thought to ask for.”
Women coaching tip #7: Reach out
Initiating contact with other entrepreneurs is also helpful when looking for women mentors. Talking to others helped Tara Salzburg. “I’ve learned a tremendous amount just by reaching out to other small business owners to hear about their experiences — successes, failures, lessons learned,” the owner of Westyn Baby, which sells pajamas made for babies with sensitive skin, told nbcnews.com. She also got to know other small business owners through email and social media. “We swap stories, idea and experiences. I think it’s beneficial to both parties,” she says.8
Women coaching tip #8: Do what you can, then let go
Part of succeeding in your business is learning when enough is enough. That is, learning when you’ve done all that you can do and letting faith take over.
“Faith” in this case doesn’t refer to religion, but it does refer to believing that there is a force greater than you having your back and moving you toward your goal. Patty Lennon, a woman coach, small business expert and author, puts forth the view that one of the keys to succeeding in your business does not mean doing more, but doing as much as you can, and letting that higher power take it from there. That means relinquishing control and trusting that what you need will come. When we do that, “the Universe steps in and does the heavy lifting,” she says on her blog on PennyLennon.com.9
Women coaching tip #9: Know thyself
It may sound simple and almost clichéd, but the importance of self-knowledge can’t be overstressed. It’s an idea almost all coaches touch on in one form or another, and women coaching advice the next business owner warns could be dangerous to your business if you ignore it. “Know yourself, and know that whatever you don’t know about yourself, you’ll learn the hard way.” This advice comes from Courtney Nichols, co-founder, co-CEO of SmartyPants Vitamins, in “6 Women Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Advice,” on thebalancecareers.com. She adds that the flaws of the entrepreneur will eventually come to light, so you’ll need to be adaptable as a result. Your company is you: if you lie about your shortcomings, “you will kill your business in the process,” she says.
In other words, be authentic. Once you know yourself, it logically follows that you must be true to yourself.
Dr. Deone Curling, a mental health therapist and a woman coach helping other Canadian women with We Thrive Events, echoes the sentiment. She sees helping a person be their authentic self as part of her role as a coach. It’s allowing a person to be their authentic self “to be the best they can be,” she says. “No one in the world” can be you, she adds. Finding the best person you can be will unlock your potential.
When you’re ready to find a woman coach
Keep in mind these women’s coaching tips when you feel challenged and are not sure where to turn. They can help steer you toward finding a solution. Or perhaps you may also find having that personal touch with a woman coach helpful, as the coach can help guide you to solutions to more specific challenges that you’re facing.
There are lots of women coaches in various areas of specialization; you’ve got plenty of options when looking for a woman coach, whether you want a professional coach or a personal one.
How can you find a woman coach? Answering the question “Where can I find a coach that’s right for me?” in The Globe and Mail, Eileen Chadnick, a work-life coach with Big Cheese Coaching, suggests talking with friends and colleagues about coaches they may have worked with for a referral.
If you are looking for a Canadian woman coach, a good place to start is We Thrive Events. Our speed-coaching events are a great place to meet and speak with women who are financial coaches, marketing coaches and life coaches.
If you’re on a budget, group coaching and workshops could be a more affordable way to go, Chadnick adds.
Whichever option you choose, remember, being your own boss doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.
Article by Yvette Trancoso-Barrett