Crystal J. Rodriguez, Esq.
We have arrived! Yes! We have entered a realm that was once considered to be one for men only. We, are women entrepreneurs and we are taking the business by world by storm! More and more small businesses are being started by females and with all the things we have to balance in life and in business, it’s no surprise that we face many more challenges than our male counterparts.
After talking with some of my sister “Boss Babes”, here are some of the common challenges female entrepreneurs face and even some advice on how to kick ass while overcoming them.
1. Achieving work/personal balance – work/life balance is an important goal for most people, both male and female, but for those of us that are moms, it’s a bit different and can be quite hectic. We have to run businesses and find time to spend with family. In between meetings and webinars, we’re fixing lunches and playing taxi for the kids’ activities. There’s tons of shit that need to get done and sometimes it seems like we are the only ones that can do it correctly.
I call BS on that all day!!! Yes, spending time with family is important and having a life outside of the business is too. But we all know how much focus and attention it takes to get a business up and running and keep it going – profitably! So, here’s what I suggest – Spend the QUALITY time you need to with family. The laundry, cleaning, even the cooking sometimes – delegate that shit out. Some of you probably just grabbed your pearls and said, “Oh no! I couldn’t possibly.” YES. YOU. CAN. Stop feeling like a failure if you’re not able to get all that domestic stuff done. I remember when my boyfriend made me feel like ‘less than a woman” because I ordered groceries online and then picked them up. At first, I was trying to force myself to go grocery shopping just to prove a point. Then I said, EFF That!!! First of all, I hate grocery shopping. I always have. There’s something about it that gives me anxiety attacks, especially if its crowded. Secondly, I really don’t have time for it. Between my day job and my consulting business, there just are not enough hours in the day to do shit like that AND keep up with professional responsibilities. I do recognize the importance of eating healthy and having food in the fridge so it’s got to get done! Every week, I am online ordering my groceries and then I set aside time to listen to a podcast of choice while driving to pick them up. I drop my laundry off to be done and then pick it up when it’s done. Now all I need is for someone to put it up for me (just kidding – I can do that!). The point to all this is about the QUALITY OF LIFE YOU CREATE FOR YOURSELF. Decide what’s most important for you to do and ask for help with the rest! You’ll feel less stressed and have more time to focus on what’s really important.
2. Dealing with fear of failure – part of tackling this is to realize that for extraordinary success, you must experience extraordinary failure. Failure is a part of being an entrepreneur. Too many of us let failure stop us dead in our tracks from moving forward and trying things again. A few years ago, I came up with what I thought was a great idea. A digital course for female entrepreneurs to get their business affairs in order. I invested time and energy into research as well as money into marketing and making it ‘pretty’. I just knew it was going to be successful! My first webinar, I was so nervous and excited all at the same time. You couldn’t tell me that I wasn’t going to have a 5-figure month. Well, 5 people showed up to my webinar and, one person purchased the course. I dropped the price and did another webinar. 7 people attended and NO ONE – NOT ONE person purchased the course. I was done! I was embarrassed. I felt like a failure. I doubted myself and my ideas. I even doubted the goals I had created for myself. That week, I was trying to figure out how I could recoup any losses and forget about everything! Thanks goodness I didn’t go through
with that! If I did, I wouldn’t be here, building the business of my dreams and working on my empire (I’m not there yet, but I’m well on my way).
We have to embrace failure. Yes! Give that sucka’ a big fat hug and thank it for teaching you the lessons you need in order to improve. Thank faillure for showing you what not to do next time! If you haven’t failed, you’re not successful. Believe me when I tell you that the most successful female entrepreneurs have some stories of failures and they go hand-in-hand with the ones about success.
3. Downplaying accomplishments – no one wants to brag but, there’s nothing wrong with owning & sharing what you’ve done. I’m not sure why many women have a problem with this but generally, we tend to downplay our accomplishments and skills and it does us no justice. I was asked once, “Crystal, at what are you an expert?” I was a little shocked and didn’t know what to say. It was almost like I couldn’t answer the question. I stuttered through and after, I thought, she must be wondering if I am really an expert at anything.
I should have had my pitch down pat. You can list out your education, your experience and your skills without sounding like a total up-tight prick – AND YOU SHOULD. No one is going to be impressed with you if you don’t tell them everything there is great about you. So get that pitch together. Prepare to WOW people with your training, your sills, ideas and business concepts. Tell them about recognitions and awards and tell them what’s next! Never be afraid to showcase YOU in the best light possible.
4. Being assertive without being called a b*tch! – when needed, women should be able to fully assert their point of view without being afraid of being labeled as a not-so-nice person. One day, before a very important meeting, I got a text from a colleague (yes,
a male colleague) that said, “I thought you might want to read this before our meeting. Good Luck today!” Attached to the text was a link to an article entitled, “How to be Assertive Without being Labeled a BITCH.” W.T.F? Are you kidding me? I wish I could say I went to the meeting and totally kicked ass, but I didn’t. I was nervous. My voice was shaking. I was sweating. It was horrible.
Women should be able to play tough too without being labeled a bitch! When guys do it, they are ‘the shit’ so why is it when a woman is firm and unwavering, we’re ‘irrational’ or ‘uber- emotional’? Don’t accept that from anyone. Now, I am not in any way encouraging you to walk in to your next meeting and, in fact, be a bitch. What I am saying is that we can make demands, we can have standards and we can negotiate with the best of the old boys’ club. Do your research, cross you T’s and dot your I’s and go in there with what you know and confident in what you can do!
5. Support Networks – know where to find the right people to help you and to serve as mentors. Everyone needs support! Sometimes, for many reasons, we want to go at things alone and that’s ok. But every entrepreneur needs a support system. Online forums for female entrepreneurs are great and even fitting a few networking events into your busy schedule would help too. It helps people get to know what you and your business has to offer. It also gives you a chance to share experiences.
Is there a challenge you’ve faced that didn’t appear here? Share it with us in the comments and give us some suggestions on how to face it.