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Lessons from 21st century women entrepreneurs

21 February 2013 06:56 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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They seem to have an uncanny ability to empathise with customers, employees and colleagues. They can communicate splendidly and are able to advise others. They have consistently displayed a high level of integrity and insight in business. 
 
They can multi-task and balance a career that is demanding with a family that can be equally demanding. They tend to be thinkers and visionaries able to perceive opportunities.
 
We are talking of women in business – women who have time and again used their skill and talent to build a successful business from scratch, making it work. Some of them are true daughters of the 21st century, who have made ideas work amazingly well, creating outstanding business value in the process. 
 
There are always pearls of wisdom some of them share – which make sound business sense for other women aspiring to do the same.

Never compare 
 
Kathy Caprino, Founder/President of Ellia Communications, one of the leading career and executive coaching and training firm in the US, is a contributor to Forbes and is recognized for the way in which she successfully built her company.   
 
‘Build It and They Will Come’ is not a successful business strategy, says Kathy. Never mind your expertise – how is your business model – does it generate revenue, is it viable and does it plan to generate financial growth? Do you have a market that is defined and reachable?
 
Use the ‘Circumstances to Your Advantage’ – instead of resisting challenges, see where you can source opportunities, says Kathy. Open your eyes, ears and heart and listen to what the market and the circumstances are telling you. 
 
Can the pricing reflect more value or the demographics may need to change? Is the client base too narrow or can you grow elsewhere? Use the information you have to take the business where it should go.
 
You need to hire the right partners, people who are not just passengers but those who will jump in and drive with you. Kathy says that they must be on the same page as you are and want to achieve the same goals.


 
Never compare - many female entrepreneurs make the mistake of comparing themselves and their businesses with successful businesswomen and think, “I don’t have the confidence they do.” Confidence does not come overnight – it takes time, experience and maturity. 
 
Brendon Burchard, who wrote the bestselling books ‘The Millionnaire Message’ and ‘The Charge’, says that confidence comes from our own will – from a deep conviction within us that we need to become confident. It should become a core value within us that we must build into the business.
 
Different is good 
 
Alison Prince is the Founder of PickYourPlum.com, who has succeeded in creating a culture of happiness and hard work, she says. She encourages her team to reach higher goals and reward them when they do.
 
“We spoil customers and they reward us. Random acts of kindness, under promising and over delivering with surprise extras have ensured that we have a faithful clientele,” she says.
 
Her message is to ‘stay positive’. With tasks that are challenging, working longer hours, she focuses on results instead of processes, she says. “As a company, we strive to rise above what troubles us. Our daily goal is to be happy, productive and focused on the positive.”
 
“We hire the best people and take care of them. We focus on people who are loyal, share our culture and work hard. We are grateful and thankful for the opportunities and the company we have built that blesses the lives of so many.”
 
Alison Wistner is a Director of a private equity fund investing in high growth technology and consumer companies. She says that in her experience, women are underrepresented in both fields – she says that both technology and investment do not seem to attract the smart women, perhaps due to a lack of awareness. 
She believes that the best leaders are able to understand that diversity fosters different opinions and leads to better outcomes. 
 
“In male dominated industries, there’s a tendency for women to pattern opinions and behaviour around male colleagues to help fit in and succeed. Some of the most impressive female leaders I’ve encountered surround themselves with people who continually challenge their thinking.  Different is good,” she opines.
Good communicators 
 
“I’ve found that good leaders are also exceptional communicators. This is not a uniquely female trait, but women leaders are often better at fostering open environments with frequent dialogue with the senior leaders.’
 
“The culture of a company is incredibly important and a lack of transparency becomes a foundation for uncertainty and unhappy employees. Good communicators earn trust and loyalty among a team and foster better collaboration as a result.”
 
Cheryl Snapp Conner, who founded Snapp Conner PR, a highly successful PR company, says that always it’s critical to have a strategic perspective. Being focused is considered a strong business trait. She believes that the good leader is able to instill motivation and bring out the best in his or her team.
 
She also believes that being able to be quiet and listen is a marvelous attribute. “Perhaps the most powerful lesson I’ve learned is when to not talk, but just listen. Especially when situations get heated, it’s valuable to remember it’s the person who’s not speaking who’s generally holding 90 percent of the cards.”
 
Never make a key decision in the heat of emotion, advises Cheryl. The ability to wait, think and consider options before responding allows you to consider what it is you want to happen and whether what you’re about to do is the best way to arrive at that goal. 
 
The advice from those who have done the entrepreneurial walk with outstanding success makes mentoring relevant and focused for those who will come after them. 
 
(Nayomini, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional, can be contacted at nayominiweerasooriya@gmail.com) 
 
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