As an entrepreneur who has operated her own business for over two decades, I’ve made – and learned from – my fair share of mistakes. The traits needed to start a business, aren’t the same ones needed to maintain and grow it. Here are some tips for avoiding common entrepreneurial pitfalls, taken from my latest book, Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It: 99 Ways to Win the Respect Your Deserve, the Success You’ve Earned and the Life You Want, co-authored with Carol Frohlinger.
1. Take time out to examine your choices.
Many times women get so caught up in “doing” that they fail to see the choices on the periphery that could contribute to even greater success. Whether you work in your own enterprise or for someone else, setting time aside to examine the array of options available to you, and not simply acting on what’s right before you, is critical for business and career growth. Miracle workers get canonized, not recognized.
2. Walk away when it’s time.
Women tend to stay in situations and relationships long after they’ve outlived their usefulness. There are times when you need to “fire” that client or customer who is simply not a good return on investment or leave a job where it’s clear you’re getting nowhere. Putting time, money, and energy into a dry well isn’t going to get you to where you want to be.
3. Manage your brand.
Not too long ago a woman asked me how she could grow her daycare business. When I asked her what makes her facility different from all of the others in her community, she couldn’t answer me. Women have a hard time tooting their own horns and illuminating the reasons why you should “buy” them. Until you can state with crystal clarity what makes your brand (and it can be your personal brand or product brand) superior to the competition, you’re unlikely to achieve the success you deserve.
4. Expect and prepare for setbacks.
When you’re running your own show, there are inevitable bumps in the road. Women are less likely to ask for help than are men. They often try to muscle through the challenges alone. Develop a network of similarly minded friends and colleagues upon whom you can rely for encouragement, guidance, and support. Learn from what may seem at the time like failures — they’re lessons in disguise.
5. Leverage your relationships.
Women are great at building relationships, not so great at using them to their advantage. In one episode of The Apprentice, the task was to sell cupcakes on a street corner in New York. The team that made the most money would win. The women’s team worked hard at creating a strategy to sell the most cupcakes. The men’s team called on friends with deep pockets to buy cupcakes at $100 and even $1,000 each. Guess who won? It does no good to have a large professional network and never use it when you need it. Just remember, inherent to every relationship there’s a quid pro quo – something in exchange for something else. So make sure you keep up your end of the bargain.Dr. Lois Frankel is author of the bestselling books Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office and Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich. To learn more about her latest book, Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It, and to take a free “nice girls” inventory, visit www.nicegirlsjustdontgetit.com.