Women In Business

Ambition is not a dirty word

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One thing that never ceases to surprise me is the distaste of ambition. In my experience, many people often find the idea that someone is striving to achieve something really big as problematic. Who do they think they are? Aren’t they a little too big for their boots? They’re egotistical. They’ve overestimated their abilities.

Call it ‘tall poppy syndrome’, cynicism, fear of failure or simple jealousy — it’s a documented barrier to innovation in this country.

When it comes to female ambition, you can double-down. Society is even less comfortable with an ambitious woman. We are far more likely to consider an ambitious woman selfish or obsessed with the limelight than a man. We all know the special scrutiny Julia Gillard faced.

And when it comes to female ambition for a woman of childbearing age, you can triple down. The thought that any woman would choose to pursue something other than having children is considered selfish. Even pursuing your ambitions while having children is seen as problematic. Just ask JacindaArdern.

Knowing the breathtaking hypocrisy and idiocy of all of this, I do my best to ignore it. Really, who cares what anyone else thinks other than myself and the people I care about? However, probably like many women in my position, that doesn’t always quiet the nagging voice in my head.

I have often found myself falling into the trap of feeling guilt at my desire to earn more money, as I subconsciously equate it to greed. Well that may hold up if I was actually earning truckloads of money, but the cold hard truth is that I earn less per hour than any of my employees; taking a small salary and reinvesting everything else back into the business. It’s hardly greedy to want a bigger slice of the pie from a business you built.

So, where does that leave us?

Ambition – especially female ambition – is a great thing. And I believe we should be working to nurture rather than suppress it. We know that women are ambitious, but they may be hesitant to voice their ambitions or they underplay them. Let’s turn this on its head and make our ambitions known. If we talk about our ambitions – in fact let’s never shut up about them – then we’ll get that little bit closer to female ambition becoming the norm. As the ‘me too’ movement has revealed, when women collectively speak up, it can create change.

My ambition is for my business, Green Door Co, to exceed $1 million in revenue this year. I recently discovered that only two per cent of female business owners exceed this milestone and it lit a serious fire under me to make it happen.

So, in the spirit of embracing ambition, what are you hoping to achieve this year?

About Heather Marano

Heather Marano is the Founder and Director of Specialist SME marketing consultancy, Green Door Co, based in Sydney, Australia. Over the last decade she has worked with over 60 small and medium sized businesses on their PR and marketing programs. She even picked up a B&T 30 Under 30 award in the PR & Marketing category in 2015. Dedicated to supporting SMEs who are often excluded from marketing opportunities due to cost, Heather has recently launched a DIY PR course called PR 4 SMEs.

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