“The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short.”
The women entrepreneurs I work with have usually gone into business for themselves to be able to create a position that allows flexibility around their family while providing opportunity for self-gratification and a sense of contribution to the family funds. In many cases creating her own business has been to escape from corporate restrictions and the stressors that represents.
In my role as a sales manager, I’ve spoken to many women clients who are frustrated with their corporate life and want very badly to be able to do something that fills their soul but still earns a reasonable income. Many work in environments where they think they aren’t respected and often feel out of place. Often experiencing workplace isolation and boy’s club attitudes that prevents her from climbing up the ranks. In some instances they have to cope with condescending posturing by men who use terms such as Sweetie, Honey or Girlie.
I’ve heard this many times in workplaces and although the words aren’t always meant to insult, if used repeatedly they often affect her level of self-confidence. Undermining her beliefs in herself and leading to doubt and a sense of judgement as to her capacity to do the job. Fortunately, this is often when many woman make the decision go it alone and start her own business. She wants to take control of her life and reawaken her confidence.
I get how this feels. I began my working life at just 15 in a community supermarket where all the staff knew the locals by name. The staff seemed so grown up to me. As I think about it now, they probably weren’t much older than myself but with a few years working experience but they took me under their wings. It was a wonderful introduction to working except for one corruptive factor. The manager of the store, was rude, condescending and arrogant and had no respect for any of the girls on staff. He would call me ‘Girlie’ rather use my name. He would bellow across the store if he wanted me. He made me judge my worth, my ability to do the job and he continually worked at destroying all sense of self- confidence no matter how hard I worked to gain his favour.
Although only 15 and straight out of school, I fortunately was a reasonably strong-minded young woman. A Taurean for anyone who is interested in my astrological leanings. I’m thankful to my parents for instilling a high level of self-respect and take no ‘crap’ attitude (which has got me into trouble on more than one occasion) so I could cope with this constant battering of my self-confidence.
It got to the stage where I would simply ignore the manager, until he used my name. A big move that shocked my fellow workers and particularly annoyed the manager. It wasn’t a stance I took to be irritating but even at just 15 years old, I knew it was a position I had to take if I wanted to maintain any sense of self-worth.
The point being here is that I fully understand how what we now know as bullying in the workplace can work to undermine a person’s confidence. For women taking a leap of faith by launching a new venture, this sense of self-judgement effects all components of growing the business. In particular selling, as we often take ownership when rejected rather than recognising a “no thank you’ for exactly what it is…an, “I don’t need what you have at this time”.
Obviously not all women entrepreneurs who start a new venture come from the corporate world or have been bullied into moving on. What I’ve found though is what many women do have in common when they are in their own business is the negative voice in their head which constantly judges their ability and worth. This voice has often been the foremost influencer of decisions and when endeavouring to grow a business, holds power of the success or failure.
What is your voice telling you?
If the voice in your head is controlling your beliefs and affecting your success, then you need to ensure you have the right team of supporters and coaches around you to support your journey.