Career Woman

5 Ways smart career women set themselves up for business success


As any entrepreneur will likely point out, cultivating a successful career in business is no walk in the park. This is especially true for women – while there has certainly been progress over the last thirty years, business is still by and large a male-dominated field. That said, female-owned and operated businesses are gaining more and more traction, and the number of female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies continues to grow (though it is still woefully small). So how can women temper this inequality and thrive as entrepreneurs? Here are a few things that smart career women do to set themselves up for success in business.

They know what they want, and they go for it

The business career options for women looking to break into the field are extremely diverse. Regardless of the outdated gender stereotypes that once kept women from pursuing certain careers, women should no longer feel that anything is off-limits for them in this day and age. Women who have already cultivated success in business (think Sheryl Sandberg or Marissa Mayer) had a clear idea of what kind of job they wanted, and they worked hard to achieve exactly that. It’s important to know what you want, and to know that the only person responsible for your success is you. Smart career women don’t settle for the next best thing. That said, in order to attain their dream jobs, women also need to put in time to research their pathway to success and doggedly work on the skills that are necessary to make these positions possible for themselves. Having a clear picture of what you want to accomplish in your career, and the professional and personal competencies you need in order to achieve those goals, will help you remain focused and diligent in your day-to-day.

They build strong relationships

Building strong relationships is as much a life skill as it is a business skill, but it is one that should definitely not be overlooked by businesswomen. Though you certainly have to be a self-starter to succeed in business, there just simply aren’t enough hours in the day to handle everything on your own – nor should you have to handle everything yourself. As you likely learned in school, communication and leadership skills are among the most important for anyone pursuing a career in business. It’s a team-oriented field, and knowing how to build a reliable team of people who you can trust and to whom you can delegate the various responsibilities that go along with running a business is one of the most impactful things you can do to set yourself up for long-term success. Additionally, working as part of team opens up a world of possible connections that you may not have otherwise had access to, and it’s a built-in support system that you can lean on if times get tough. Being a great leader doesn’t mean having to go it alone – it means that you are able to bring together people from different walks of life to work toward a common goal and establish mutually beneficial connections.

They’re prepared for a non-traditional lifestyle 

Being a successful entrepreneur means realizing that you’re certainly not going to be sitting in a cubicle and punching out by 5 PM each day. The hours will be long and if you have international partners, you will probably find yourself (at least occasionally) working strange hours to accommodate time zone differences. Conference calls may have to happen in the early mornings, late evenings or even on the weekends. Your schedule won’t resemble that of a typical 9 to 5, and to be successful in business you have to be willing to embrace the non-traditional. On the bright side, however, you’ll likely be in charge of your own hours, so you will be able to schedule a break (try online employee scheduling software by Humanity) when you need one. Which brings up the next point:

They recognize the importance of NOT working 

Women in traditionally male-dominated industries – like business – often find themselves struggling to strike a healthy work-life balance. In fact, we often feel we need to work twice as hard for half as much recognition. This is particularly true for mothers, since women still tend to take on the majority of childcare responsibilities at home – even those who work full-time or more-than-full-time jobs. While it can be tempting to constantly keep the pedal to the metal as you try to advance your career, finding time to not work is vital to both yourself and your business. Taking breaks to pursue your own hobbies, go on vacation, or simply do anything other than work will help prevent the kind of stress that leads to burnout. Regular downtime has even been shown to stimulate more creative thinking, which will certainly work to your advantage when it’s time to focus on work again.

They trust themselves

This is the most essential thing women in any field can do to make sure they keep moving forward and reaching – or surpassing – their goals. As women, we’ve spent our whole lives being taught that we must be nice and kind above all things – and while kindness is definitely important, it often comes at the expense of our own ideas and our own voices. When it comes to business – your business – you have to learn to trust your gut and to not be shy when it comes to sharing your thoughts. It can be hard, especially with so few female role models, but no one else can advocate for you the way you can advocate for yourself. For a long time, the number one piece of advice for women pursuing careers in male-dominated industries was to “think like a man” – but in reality, embracing your own thoughts and remaining true to yourself is the key to setting yourself apart from the pack, especially when the pack is focused on replicating inauthentic behaviors that may or may not work for one person the way they’ve worked for another. Believe in your vision and believe in your voice – most importantly, use your voice to help you grow and cultivate a successful and fulfilling career.

Author: Megan Sulewski is a freelance writer and teacher. She is passionate about helping teachers improve their practice and helping her students tap into their full potential. Megan is an active blogger and moderator of #langchat, a Twitter-based professional learning community for World Language teachers. You can find her on Twitter at @MlleSulewski.

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