Typically, my business is not focused on what differentiates men and women in the workplace or any other societal space we share. In fact, I quite enjoy what I learn from other leaders–predominately men–in the online community on coaching, marketing and web technology. Duct Tape Marketing, WP Elevation, Marketing Over Coffee and The Tim Ferriss Show are some of my go-to’s for insight, encouragement and professional growth. But in 2019, the challenges for men and women continue to vary and gender bias still persists. It isn’t only that boy’s clubs still exist and women are often not treated with the same dignity as their male counterparts. Many women are equally complicit in embracing masculine and feminine stereotypes and believing we do our work in a manner substantially different from men. This is a difference I reject. Yes, in the face of gender bias and discriminatory practices, our work is sometimes made more difficult and the struggle becomes that much harder. But working a lot of hours, professional development, the availability of financing, marketing on what is often a shoe-string budget–these are all areas that affect men and women entrepreneurs and often without prejudice. Its just the way things are for small business owners. It requires a lot of hustle and hard work to break away from these challenges in the pursuit of growth.
I’m not writing this to be another voice weighing in against the common experience of gender bias as you might expect. But for the women in business, you especially need to know that slowing down and catching your breath and finding yourself is not an option on this competitive stage. There’s no time to give yourself over to the perception that inherent to your femininity there is a different pathway for success.
Many women have bought into destructive gender stereotypes, believing that men are more high energy and able to hustle in business more effectively than women. Some will also tell you that women are typically by nature more introverted than men. But the “hustle” doesn’t have to imply “imbalance” nor is it a masculine business attribute. This kind of stereotyping is one of the biggest hurdles for women in leadership positions and it is one I hear perpetuated by women themselves.
As a woman, here is my advice for both men and women in business:
Work Hard. Success in business doesn’t come quickly or easily. If it did, more people would start businesses and experience rapid growth with long-term success. Stay busy and believe that with hard work you can set yourself up to achieve your goals.
Work Smart. Its often said if you work smart you don’t have to work hard. I posit that both are necessary. Don’t plan for a life of professional leisure. Work smart AND work hard while you can. Make the best decisions that lend to successfully fulfilling your business plan.
Continue Learning. There is never a downside to being a life-long student. Develop yourself as a professional by continuing to train in all aspects of your work. Go to conferences. Read books within your industry. Read books outside of what you do. Just continue to have an active mind and grow as a person because any kind of growth will positively influence who you are in business and career.
Be Good. Make decisions according what will benefit your business. Don’t lack courtesy or empathy as you engage others in your day to day work. Don’t harm others in seeking to achieve your goals. Be someone who gravitates toward the good and seeks benefits for everyone.
Be Rational. Make smart decisions and don’t be irrational about your work. Don’t believe in the get rich quick schemes and don’t depend primarily on 5000 Facebook followers for a substantial annual income. To be rational is to believe you are up to the challenges of business and then confronting the challenges with the energy necessary to conquer them.
Be you. Be who you are. If you are a female introvert, that’s who you are and you need to run your business accordingly. If you’re a female extrovert, you haven’t taken on masculine characteristics. You just happen to be a female who is an extrovert. If you’re a male, your masculinity isn’t at risk if you happen to be an introvert. Don’t believe the stereotypes. Just know who you are and be you.
A business without challenges is a Utopian dream. You wake up every day, sometimes a little tired, knowing you have more things to do than the time to actually get them done. But you strive to check things off your list and be a success. Keep doing that. Keep doing it with the human fervor necessary to get it done. But don’t believe that simply because your a man or a woman you have to do work your business differently. What makes you different from other people is because of who you are, not what you are.
Sarah Flashing is a digital creative, writer and public speaker. Her professional goals include helping people find success by employing the best tools available. Formerly a college instructor with a background in leadership development, Sarah works with organizations around the country helping them to develop & implement marketing and management strategies. Invite Sarah to speak at your next event.