06/05/2015

By Jane Kenyon, serial entrepreneur, speaker, author of 'Diva Wisdom', blogger, coach and female champion


I am on a mission to inspire more women to step up to entrepreneurship, and by this I am not referring to self-employment, this is simply a job in disguise! I am talking about a business that is bigger than you, has leverage, an income model and some sustainability. The stats show women in the UK are not making this happen at the same rate as men. Why?? In my experience the reluctance to build has nothing to do with capability and everything to do with mind set.

Here are the top six mind set barriers holding women back from the big game.

1. THE NEED FOR PERFECTION IS STIFLING US.

We need more qualifications, a better website, more twitter followers, more research and a knock out brand before we even dip our toe in the water. It will never be perfect, perfect does not exist. My mantra GET GOING and GET BETTER. The market cannot respond to what you are planning it can only respond to what you put out there. To learn to swim you must first get in the pool! Just JUMP!

2. WE ARE TOO EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED TO LET GO.

A close ally of perfectionism is control. We believe no one can do all the work as well as us so we struggle to let go of ANYTHING!! We talk about not being able to find the staff, how it is easier to just do it ourselves but this is exhausting and hampers any growth. This is all about our emotional attachment to our business. I hear women refer to their business as ‘their baby’ all the time and with this goes a reluctance and in some instances real fear of letting go or allowing anyone else to look after their baby. We need to reframe this if we are to take our rightful place in the world of business.

3. WE ARE FINANCIALLY FEARFUL.

One of the key fears most women hold onto is the fear of debt and they associate growing a business with getting into debt so they stay small and attempt to grow incrementally via their cash flow. Now in exceptional circumstances this can work but in most cases growth demands some form of financial investment and this is interpreted as debt so it is bad. I am fascinated by this association as we do not do it with other capital investments. If I asked a group of women to raise their hand if they own their own home, most of the room would be ablaze with proud, outstretched arms but the next question ‘How many of you have a mortgage on this property’ shows me a very different picture. You see, you do not own your home if it is mortgaged. Stop your mortgage payments for 6 months and you will find out who owns your house! Yet we are comfortable with this debt are we not? So could we not reframe financial debt to be an investment in our next 25 year future? Just a thought!

4. WE ARE RELUCTANT TO TAKE OWNERSHIP OF SUCCESS AND SHUN RECOGNITION.

The conversation opener goes like this ‘well, I do not want to build an empire, I just want to provide a good life for my family.’ As if building an empire is somehow unfeminine and distasteful and money a nasty word. It is true that women are more driven by values than hard cash but we are kidding ourselves if we do not think financial reward is OK for a job well done. The battle for our emancipation was founded on financial independence and self-employment offers very little security in the long run. What’s wrong with growing a big business? Something to pass on to your kids as opposed to a measure to keep them? And why are we so shy when it comes to recognition? ‘Oh it was nothing to do me I was just in the right place at the right time.’ — erm YES clever you! Or ‘Oh no it was a team effort, I had very little to do with it’ duh! Who employed the team then?? Own it ladies, how can we encourage the next generation if we are constantly apologising for our success?

5. WE DON’T BELIEVE WE HAVE THE RIGHT SKILLSET.

Are you kidding? Business today is about connection, making a difference and creativity — not got any of that then? We are natural connectors and relationship builders, are emotions can be used to our advantage as the majority of purchases are made by women and show me a working mum and I will show you a formidable negotiator, top organiser and budgetary control genius! Business is no longer a ruthless standoff or an all-out battle to kill the competition, these are outdated, male models that worked when there was no other option and I am thankful they did, but today there is a new energy, a more female centric energy focussed on collaboration, values, team harmony, customer inclusion and flexibility. It is our time ladies, we are on!


6. WE HAVE AN UNREASONABLE FEAR OF FAILURE.

I say unreasonable because a fear of failure is a solid motivator for success, however, I see the most amazing, gifted and bright women staying small and insignificant for fear of failure and it breaks my heart. Failure is not personal, it is just the market telling you to move on, the world has changed etc. Markets and customers change all the time. What was in last week is old hat tomorrow and as entrepreneurs we need to keep abreast of this all the time. If we stop looking we will get caught out and this is when failure shows up. What I know for sure is I have learnt all my lessons standing in

It’s our time ladies — the economy needs us, the world of business needs us and the next generation definitely need us, so time to step up!