The beginning of a new year is traditionally a time to assess past performance and to set goals for continued success and satisfaction in business. Whether a female entrepreneur wants to sustain current levels of income, increase her company's bottom line or get on solid financial footing, every type of business owner can ring in the New Year with some systematic steps for success, as she defines it.
A recent study from Jane Out of the Box, an authority on female entrepreneurs, reveals there are five distinct types of women in business. Each one has a unique approach to running a business - and therefore each one has a unique combination of needs. This article outlines three of the five types and provides some advice for continued success and satisfaction as they enter 2010.
Jane Dough is an entrepreneur who enjoys running her business and makes good money. She is comfortable and determined in buying and selling, which may be why she's five times more likely than the average female business owner to hit the million dollar mark. Jane Dough is clear in her priorities and may be intentionally and actively growing an asset-based or legacy business. It is estimated that 18% of women fall in the category of Jane Dough.
Jane Dough's success - both financially and in her satisfactory work-life balance - makes her what many consider "a natural born entrepreneur." Her business brings in enough revenue to support her chosen lifestyle, and most Jane Doughs report waking up excited about running their businesses on any given day. For success on an even greater scale, though, Jane Dough may want to consider this New Year's Resolution:
Slow Down. Because of her focus on sustaining high levels of growth in the future, Jane Dough often relies heavily on the systems she put in place to streamline her business, while she carries on with marketing the company and executing her own next steps. Here are some ways that slowing down to examine those systems and to put new ones in place can help her to reach her vision faster and more efficiently:
- Communicate the vision to the team. By scheduling semi-annual business planning retreats with members of her team, Jane Dough will be forced to analyze her vision and to map out her course of action for the next six months. Slowing down enough (even twice a year) to compare the business' performance to the business goals is essential in keeping the business and the team on track.
- Ask team members to document each step of their systems. Getting everything down on paper - to the smallest detail - ensures that a business owner is cognizant of exactly how each task is completed. If Jane Dough can slow down long enough to analyze all the systems her team members use, she may find places to streamline or reorganize, creating better overall efficiency. Also, having systems documented makes them available to new team members if an existing one is out sick or leaves the company.
- Conduct regular performance reviews -- especially if team members work from different geographical locations. It's critical that Jane Dough take the time to acknowledge her team members' hard work and accomplishments, and to uncover and deal with any team issues that go on while she's working on the visionary details she so loves. Regular performance reviews in which a business owner not only acknowledges employees' contributions and gives them advice on areas for improvement, but also asks for feedback, will add motivation and efficiency to a business that is already on the right track.
Tenacity Jane is an entrepreneur with an undeniable passion for her business, and one who tends to be struggling with cash flow. As a result, she's working longer hours, and making less money than she'd like. Nevertheless, Tenacity Jane is bound and determined to make her business a success. At 31% of women in business, Tenacity Janes are the largest group of female entrepreneurs.
Many Tenacity Jane business owners feel frustrated and dissatisfied with the way their businesses are performing financially. They spend long hours working for much less money than they'd like to earn. Tenacity Jane can make 2010 the year things turn around by combining the following advice with the passion that renders her admirable to all those who know her:
Get to the bottom of it. Five main reasons exist for why a business owner would end up in the Tenacity Jane category: she has limited business experience, the business started undercapitalized and isn't currently making enough to make up for that debt, she doesn't charge enough for her product or service, she wants to accomplish too much all at once, or something beyond her control has changed in her industry or cost structure. While examining the business concept and the business model and determining whether any changes there could produce more profit is essential, Tenacity Jane should also take a look at herself to determine what action she can take to see the results she wants in 2010:
- Examine mindset. While Tenacity Jane shows considerable courage, tenacity and wherewithal, she may harbor some (mis)beliefs about herself or the world that make it difficult for her to succeed or take action the way she wants to. For example, she may believe she has to keep her prices low or no one will hire her. She may feel afraid to sell her product or service because she believes nobody likes "pushy" salespeople. She may believe she has to do whatever a client asks her to, or she'll lose that client. If these kinds of thoughts trouble a Tenacity Jane, she can use a replacement technique to change her mindset - and allow herself to take action that leads to success: rather than believing she has to keep her prices low.
For example, she can replace that thought with: "I am good at what I do, and my work is worth more than I'm charging. People will be willing to pay for the high quality of work they'll get when they work with me."
- Examine habits. Some habits can be harmful to a business and just as harmful to a business owner. These include procrastination of completing tasks that feel uncomfortable or unpleasant (paying the bills or making collection calls), doing everything alone without asking for help, or lowering prices when someone complains. Instead, a Tenacity Jane may consider concrete tactics to prevent these damaging habits. Create a schedule for completing unpleasant tasks - sit down with the bills, invoices or collection notices once a week, without fail. Measure customer satisfaction regularly, even if it's with a monthly e-mail questionnaire.
- Examine environment. Both physically and emotionally, environment affects energy. It can be draining and exhausting, or it can be calming and revitalizing. Get rid of clutter in the workspace. Avoid spending time with people who create bad energy - and if that's not possible, limit the time and topics available. Working in a clutter-free, positive environment can do wonders for mood, productivity and overall satisfaction.
Go Jane Go is passionate about her work and provides excellent service, so she has plenty of clients - so much so, she's struggling to keep up with demand. She may be a classic overachiever, taking on volunteer opportunities as well, because she's eager to make an impact on the world and may really struggle to say, "no". Because she wants to say "yes" to so many people, she may even be in denial about how many hours she actually works during the course of a week. As a result, she may be running herself ragged and feeling guilty about neglecting herself and others who are important to her.
Because Go Jane Go is passionate about helping others, she often neglects herself. But everything - life, work and the business - will be more satisfactory with a little time built in to address her own needs and desires. While Go Jane Go is financially successful and loves what she does, she often feels overwhelmed, takes her business troubles personally, and demands exceedingly more of herself despite being in-demand, respected, and sought after as a professional. To make 2010 less overwhelming and more satisfactory, Go Jane Go can follow this advice:
Make her own needs a priority. Between striving to provide her customers with the very best service she can, giving hours of her time as a volunteer, and participating as fully as possible in family activities, Go Jane Go feels stretched thin. It's possible to prioritize, organize - and feel satisfied! Here's how:
- Get clear on personal desires and how they can co-exist with all other demands (self-imposed and customer-driven). Examine whether personal priorities align with current responsibilities. Take some time out to think about what life would look like "living the dream." Create a vision board - a collage of images and words - that serve as a reminder of what is truly important, whether it's family time, personal time, or providing exceptional customer service.
- Put "me time" and "unplug time" on the calendar. Literally. Schedule into the weekly calendar time to relax, or time to eat lunch with a favorite person at a favorite restaurant. Go Jane Go promises herself she'll take "me time" when work slows down, but because she often adds more and more work to her calendar, that "me time" doesn't happen. Similarly, Go Jane Go rarely takes time out, where she is completely unavailable for work-related issues. It's important to force herself to do so, or she may burn out. Taking time out to relax and focus on herself can revitalize and invigorate Go Jane Go, making her work time more efficient and her work-life balance more satisfactory.
- Say "yes" - in her own way. Go Jane Go has a tough time saying, "no," especially to long-term clients who she really wants to help. To gain a better work-life balance, though, she must start saying "yes" on her own terms. If her calendar's full this week, for example, she can tell a client she can't start his project until next week. If a new project seems like too much at the moment, she can recommend another great service provider. Clients will respect her for her honesty as a businessperson.
One beautiful aspect of owning a business is the excitement in looking toward the future and the exhilaration in making improvements year after year. By following the preceding advice, every business owner can strike a work-life balance that is rich in satisfaction and further opportunity.