Many women find starting a business a daunting task, that has a high risk of failing. Not only are most women aware of the statistics regarding failure, but they are also struggling to balance their life with managing the work requirements for a successful entrepreneurial business. If this sounds like you, one of the main ways to decrease the inherent risks involved, is to broaden your skill set. A few essential skills can significantly decrease the chance of making mistakes and ensure the rewards are well worth the effort.
One of the main management skills needed for success is effective goal setting. Learning to stay committed and motivates on the pathway to your goal is half the battle of running a business. Remember the principle of ‘SMART’ goal setting and set both long-term and short-term goals. The long-term goals give you a focus and direction, while short-term goals keep you accountable to your direction. For a quick recap, a ‘SMART’ goal is:
• Simple, not complicated and long winded.
• Measurable, clear outcomes that can be measured in some data-driven way
• Achievable, no unrealistic expectation and subsequent disappointment
• Relevant, mattering to both your long-term goal and business direction
• Time-bound, with a specific end or finish date
This is a concept that many entrepreneurs struggle with, although women tend to naturally be better at it than men. Women are better at multi-tasking and thus maximising productivity, however sometimes this can fail when maintaining a work-life balance. Developing good time management skills is a useful skill to hone, allowing you to juggle all the requirements and responsibility of running a business. One of the best ways to develop this area, is to look at other women and business people. Medicine, for example, is a field where time management is essential and anyone who has gone through nurse practitioner courses understands how vital it is to a patient’s well-being. If you know anyone employed in medicine, ask them for their strategies and tips. It’s almost certain they’ll have some pearls of wisdom to share.
While research shows that women are less likely to negotiate than men, negotiation skills is often a vital part of being successful in business. Women often need to utilise theses skill when talking with business contacts, vendors or even simply engaging with customers. Securing investment capital and business contracts often require strong negotiation skills and so it is important to develop a comfortable negotiation style.
It is important to set your expectations prior to any negotiation phase and be prepared to stand your ground. As men are thought to be more logical, and women more emotional, this can influence the atmosphere of the business discussion, so be prepared to stand your ground. Most importantly be willing to say No and walk away from a negotiation if it is not the right deal, or the other party is refusing to negotiate.
The three skills listed here, are frequently mentioned in management programs and other business courses, so if you are curious or wish to learn more try to find a short course on the subject. Finally Practice, practice, practice. Learning the previous skills can be the difference between success or failure for many entrepreneurial businesses.