The Pros of Running Your Business Like a Girl
Can girl-power help your biz? Here are four tips for turning a woman's unique strengths into a successful strategy.
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"You throw like a girl!"
How many times have you heard something like this? Accusing aperson of doing something "like a girl" has become socommon that even women are guilty of saying it--despite thenegative connotations it holds toward females.
In her new book, How to Run Your Business Like a Girl,Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin turns the idea of doing something"like a girl" on its head by exploring common femaletraits and how women entrepreneurs--and all entrepreneurs--can usethem to their advantage when running a business.
In her interviews with women business owners she found thatwomen tend to use three unique strengths more than their malecounterparts: trusting their intuition, focusing on relationships,and putting more emphasis on life balance.
"The irony of those [traits] is if you're running abusiness based on those sorts of priorities, then you makedecisions that look like really soft business--because you'rebasing [your decisions on] your gut or something that just feelsright. But when you look more closely at all of the women in thebook doing things, they turn out to be very smart business[decisions]."
So how can you use these three unique strengths to youradvantage? Baskin explains:
Trust your gut. Women are much more likely to make adecision based on a gut feeling, Baskin says. They'll oftenpull the facts and figures necessary to back up that feeling, butthey generally know what they want to do based on intuition. Themain area you can use this to your advantage is the hiringprocess.
"Women pick up on a lot of cues that men might miss, whichare more subtle cues. A lot of times somebody will look great ontheir resume but when they're in your office, you justdon't feel like they're the right fit."
Baskin urges women to trust this gut reaction in the hiringprocess. "There's so much that goes into picking the rightperson for your team--it's not just a black-and-white resumequestion. It's also a question of how that person will workwith other people and how that person will fit with your clients,the tone of your company, and what you want to project."
Build strong relationships. Men tend to play a friendlyone-upmanship game and are much more interested in showing theirdominance in and out of the business arena. "Women," shesays, "are much more interested in establishing aconnection."
So what does that mean? In business, that means women are lessinterested in proving they're the big tough boss, and moreinterested in establishing nurturing relationships with theiremployees, clients and vendors. This is a strong trait to have whenbuilding a business, Baskin says, because not only will you develoployal employees, you'll also make connections with peoplethrough your clients and vendors who'll later refer youbusiness.
"On the other hand," Baskin says, "a lot of usgrow up as little girls being taught to be nice, and we wanteverybody to like us. And the fact is, being the boss and alwaysbeing the most popular just don't go hand in hand."
Baskin advises women entrepreneurs to not be afraid to be theboss--you can be a strong leader without being labeled as"bitchy."
"One way to approach it is to lead with both strength andhumility--and I think it comes naturally to women to apologize whenyou screw up or come down too hard on somebody. All of these thingslead back to running a business in a more human way."
You can find a balance between work and life"A lot of the women I interviewed for this book cited lifebalance--or quality of life--as their reason for starting abusiness," Baskin says, pointing to their desire to find a wayto juggle family and work.
If having more time for your family is important to you, find away to work that into your day. "It's not so much how muchwork you do, but being able to decide when you'll do it,"she says.
Baskin cites several business owners she knows:"There's a huge number of parents who are doing this kindof post-bedtime shift; they'll be out of pocket for theafternoon while they're taking the kids to stuff, and thenyou'll see all these e-mails that come in at midnight and 2a.m. because they're working late to get stuff done."
Baskin warns though not to buy into the 27/7 hype."There's no reason you can't build a really strongbusiness working 40 hours a week or less and have life balance. Iflife balance is important to you, you can build it into yourbusiness."
And on a final note, Baskin offers one more piece of advice towomen in the early stages of their business:
You don't have to know everything. People tend tolook at other successful business owners and assume they have ittogether and that they've always known what they're doing.That's just not true, Baskin says. "It's amazing howmany women say they didn't know anything when theystarted their business."
Don't be afraid to ask for help--you don't have to beperfect at everything.
"Don't think you have to do it all by yourself. The funpart of being an entrepreneur is you get to run the business byyourself, but that doesn't mean you can't have a huge groupto support you. People love to help startups, and you'll onlybe a startup for so long," she says. "Call people youthink won't give you the time of day--heroes in your industryor people who've done things that are meaningful or impressiveto you--and ask for help. People like to be the expert and mentorother people."
If you would like to learn more about Baskin's newbook, How to Run Your Business Like a Girl, visit herwebsite at www.runyourbusinesslikeagirl.com.