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Women and Entrepreneurship: 5 Soft Skills for Tough Women "If there is to be a future, it will wear a crown of feminine design," said Sri Aurobindo

By Swetasree Roy

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State of Women-owned Businesses Reports 2018 states that there has been a nearly 3000per cent increase in women-owned businesses since 1972. There are many practical reasons for this humongous increase in women entrepreneurs, like work flexibility, have better pay, follow their passions. But most importantly, we cannot ignore the fact that women have steadily started to realize their net (self) worth by taking control of the driver's seat in their careers. This deserves applause. While we tend to make our presence felt, we should not lose sight of a couple of things which will guarantee our upward movement in our respective careers.

Lead from Within: There is no other better way to lead than leading from within. There should be a proper tandem between your inside and outside. Our inner and outer self should be balanced. While on the outside we seek organizational level growth, in the inner self we should seek personal growth. As women entrepreneurs, we must strike a balance between both inner and outer self. Weighing on any one side could result in resentments and frustration as we constantly feel dissatisfied.

Be Empathetic: Although as women entrepreneurs we try to fit in a male-dominated world, we should not move up the ladder with harshness and brutality. There is still a lot of room for values like empathy and gentleness. We should not think that being empathetic is a sign of weakness. Contrarily, as we must try to hear the unheard. By lending a compassionate ear we make another friend. It is of utmost importance that as women entrepreneurs we hold these values close to our hearts and practice them consciously.

Social Commitment: Many studies have found, more than male-led enterprises, women-led enterprises have been instrumental in providing societal improvement. Most of the women entrepreneurs focus on empowering women, providing education, helping disabled, and similar other areas. This intrinsic quality of compassion which we embody should give us our USP. We need this very much for social upliftment of so many people and moving in the right direction of Human Development. Take the example of our neighbour Bangladesh's PM Sheikh Haseena. Her compassionate leadership changed the lives of so many of her countrymen and improved HDI ranking of Bangladesh.

Be Prepared: As we work our way up the ladder to becoming successful social entrepreneurs, we must keep in mind some of the conventional wisdom. For example, DO YOUR HOMEWORK! As in a study was found that"Why so few women advance to leadership positions?" that women are not viewed as leaders. The gender stereotyping assigns attributes to women which are not conducive to entrepreneurial roles. We will never be heard until and unless we have burnt that mid-night oil and kept ourselves abreast with recent developments in our respective areas. To make a mark or get a deal, doing your homework is the key. To quote her, "Are you five questions deep in your subject matter?" If we have to break the stereotyping, we must be prepared.

    Going that extra mile would also improve your reputation. No matter what you are doing, do it from the heart while using your complete brain. Create a sacred balance between your feminine and masculine self. When you follow your passion with all your heart, let the head help you to plan it correctly. It is so important to create that equilibrium between the healthy man and healthy woman inside you. When we can do this, it automatically makes us look attractive inside-out.

    Strike a Balance: Now that we have planned our careers carefully using our complete brain, there will be no reason to quit before it is time. To quote Sheryl Sandberg, "Don't leave before you leave". We are constantly trying to balance ourselves between home and work. But there is no reason to feel dejected. There is always a way out. We should not feel ashamed if we have to attend our child's PTM at 11 o' clock on a Monday; so long we are ready to come back and add the extra hour and complete our work before leaving. If possible, do not choose in-between; give equal importance to both. Every cloud had a silver lining.
    Swetasree Roy

    Associate Professor, School of Management of BML Munjal University

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