Friday, March 24, 2017

Womens' History Month

The Business woman taking charge

This morning, I attended a panel discussion with women entrepreneurs, titled Woman-ing Up. There were four speakers: a cosmetic chemist, a blogger, a family counsel, and a personal mentor of mine who is an intellectual property attorney. In honor this being Women’s History Month, I would like to say “congratulations” to all who stepped out there, swallowed their fears, and made their dreams happen. To the artist, fashion designer, associate, blue collar or nine to five worker who is scared to move forward and is clinging to the career you hate, that guaranteed the bills are paid, now is the time to gather your blueprint. I hope this blog inspires you, as the panel did me.

Q: When the women were asked, ‘What kind of challenges do women entrepreneurs face’, they answered- “We underprice ourselves and place boundaries on our gender. As a woman, you must have that confidence like a man and KNOW what you bring to the table. We need to overcome the labels that make us afraid to lead; we must be a "hard ass" to grow.  Also, remember self-care is very important. Please understand, you must make sure you are important to yourself and take time to take care of you. Lastly, find a balance and do not develop bad habits that will haunt you later-on down the line.”

Specifically, they mentioned two challenges of being a woman of color:, i) Money.  People do not want to fund women of color. “We must be twice as good to get twice as far”. Finding the dollars to get people to invest in your dream isn't easy. ii) We feel like we must do everything on our own, but as a woman look inside your circle for your strengths. There are several individual whom you already know are experts in area that you will need help or advice. When building your dream, have the courage to reach out.

Q: What were some of your fears when starting out?
The fear of leaving the guaranteed check. You must know that your preparation will meet your transition one day. Take that leap of faith and know that you must i) work hard and ii) get out there to get paid and the contracts you need. Get over the fear of making the necessary investments. You have to spend money on getting better at your career and invest in the business. You also need to make it clear what is an expense versus what is an investment. Additionally, project changes going forward and map out what you will can “predict” about the future. Here, predict is in quotes, because sometimes no matter how well you plan, you will get a wrench thrown in your plans. No one has a perfect plan.

Q: What are three tools that will be helpful in merging an entrepreneur’s  journey?                 1. There is no point in trying to figure everything out on your own you know or have experts that you can go to. It is all about building a solid team. You are only as strong as your weakest link. Therefore, do not focus on making the money but focus on the value; you are then able to help people better understand the price point of the service you are providing.

                2. For those who are new -just do it. Do not allow some else who did not have fear, put the very same idea out before you. The last thing you want to do in 2018 is look around and see someone is making money off the very concept you thought of two year ago, but never moved forward with. 

                3. It is lonely at the top. Get around a support system that understands you, people that want to see you grow create positive energy. Your team does not have to be doing the same thing as you, so long as they understand that some Fridays you might have to say no to hanging out. They will understand that you are building your brand. Furthermore, realize if you truly want to grow your business, you will have to sit out on some of the girls’ nights. There is nothing wrong with taking some nights to invest in growth.
Q: Transition or “big chop”-
For those who do not understand this reference, this is referring to the period a woman goes through when transiting from using straightening chemicals on her hair to allow her hair to grow in its natural texture. Some women choose to allow chemicals to grow out slowly, while other do the “big Chop”, and cut the chemical out their hair. Everyone is different.

If you wake up tomorrow morning and you were doing what you wanted to do what does that look like. Do you need to take time to flush out your ideas? However you decide to get started be very strategic about how you do it. Take comfort knowing that wherever it is that you are right now you will not always be there. Sow the seeds that need to be planted for your future and watch then bud. Apple trees do not produce apple overnight. Think about your business long-term and see what those steps are. Therefore, i) plan well; ii) set the deadline; iii) be ready to trust you.

I hope this has inspired someone reading to “Woman Up”. Special shout out to the mommies; you rock Superwoman! Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. Take advantage of those around you. Sync your calendar with your husband’s, siblings’ or in-laws’, for a guaranteed sitter to give you quiet time to work. 

Remember ladies, you will to get through the pitfalls.  If on your journey you get discouraged and hit a rut, fall in love with your business again. Pencil in the things in your calendar that keep you motivated. 

I’ll leave you with this thought, a big part of woman-ing up is patting yourself on the back and knowing when you did a good job.

Until next time...

Resources business resources

Patrice N. Perkins- business formations, Intellectual property law

Rebecca Daily Wooley- social media consultant

Chantelle L. Bittings- life enrichment counseling services
10540 s. Western, Suite 504
Chicago, IL 60643

Elle Davis - Co-founder
Mid South Business Association & Resource Center

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