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Only 34 per cent of small business owners are women according to a recent report prepared by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which is an improvement on the 22.7 per cent of women on ASX200 boards according to Australian Institute of Company Directors on 29 February 2016. Whilst these reports are an increase on the 2009 figures of 8.3 per cent, women are still heavily underrepresented in the business world.
As with all business ownership and leadership roles there are difficulties along the way but these seem to be magnified if you are a woman. As the owner of The Van That Can, a deliveries and removals company, the industry is rife with sexism and harassment but this isn’t an unusual experience for many females in leadership roles. Every time this happens I channel my inner Destiny’s Child and breakout the Survivor sound track. Surviving and succeeding in these situations can be made easier with the following tips.
Sorry: Learn from The Biebs (that’s Justin Bieber to you non Beliebers), is it too late to say sorry? No it’s never too late, so don’t open with an apology. Save it until the end and really, that’s only if its necessary. Women historically open statements with an apology, or apologize for having an opinion, often in a way to appear nicer. In a professional situation, this is frowned upon, mostly because men do not apologize for speaking. Be confident in your voice and beliefs.
Say no: Men will comfortably say no to a task or project that they don’t want to do or if it conflicts with their personal life. Take this as reject tasks that are not a valuable use of your time, suggest other team member that the task could be delegated to. A great strategy to use is to mention an urgent project that is taking up your time; this shows that you are not work-shy but instead focused on achieving the best results for the company.
Be self aware: Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is the key to being a successful leader. This awareness will allow you to choose the projects that you want to focus on and excel at therefore allowing you to stand out from the crowd. Always do your best work, as you never know who is watching. Informal feedback and personality tests can give you an immediate insight into the type of person you really are and also help to understand why you behave in certain ways.
Haters gonna hate: Everyone has an opinion and sometimes these are not nice or necessarily true. Focus your energy on being the best version of you and make like Taylor Swift and shake it off. Don’t retaliate as often this is what the person is hoping for and it brings you down to their level, which isn’t going to help you become king or queen of your empire. The best form of comeback is success.