I talk to women business owners virtually every single day. I ask them about their companies, their passions, their goals, their challenges. Sadly, I hear the same sentiments over and over and over again. “I would be happy just to be able to pay all my expenses every month.” “I just want to be able to grow to a point where I can make a decent living and not worry constantly about the next project or sale.” “I am content to just stay where I am.”
I also talk to lots of men every day about the same stuff. And you know what I never hear? All this self-limiting garbage! Yes, that’s a harsh statement. But it’s not nearly as harsh as what women do to themselves and their futures all the time. There are some worrying trends that I see among women entrepreneurs and business owners, even more worrying because these are the women who struck out on their own to really go for it! Here are some of the major trends (sweeping generalizations noted) I see on a regular basis:
1. Women do not invest in their own development. Men get it when it comes to planning for the next level of development they need to get to the top and then keep topping themselves. Women simply do not spend money and time to hone and round out their skills in a way that make them extraordinary business leaders and CEOs. That’s a problem. As a CEO or business owner, you have to be willing to always change in ways that accelerate the growth of your company and your team. If you don’t start with you, you’ve already lost. Change is necessary and good. You must be ready to tackle it.
2. Women do not go big like men do. They shrink their goals to fit pre-conceived notions about what they can accomplish or how much they can fit on their plates. They often cannot see how they can do more to achieve more. But they have missed the point. Doing more does not equal growth. Doing differently does. It’s about strategy, not sacrifice and drudgery. Even if men have no clue what the hell they are actually doing, they dream bigger and their dreams fuel their actions into reality.
3. They have lost the joy and thrill of being in business. Playing small means surviving, not thriving. This is not where women need to be playing. Yes, many women went into business so that they would have more control over their lives and more balance. But what in the world does that have to do with playing small? NOTHING. The most successful people in the world (and I define success broadly and beyond financial success) have figured out how to make a huge impact on the world without giving up their lives to that vision. And if that isn’t your intention, it’s time to change. Your vision should be big. Period.
4. Women are really nice to each other, but often not honest. We support each other no matter what. But are we willing to challenge each other? Because that is what men do. Having each other’s backs means we challenge each other to be better, to expand our plans, to go for what we had only dreamt of. We need to start being honest with each other. It works for men.
I’ve been guilty of some of these attributes in my time. But I am changing that. No longer will I say “if only” or “If I could just.” From now on, it’s about doing the bold things every day, communing with people more successful than I am, being loud about what I want for me and the value I bring, and making the big moves that pay off. I’m holding myself accountable for investing in my future as a wildly successful CEO. I refuse to play it safe or small. I’ve got too much to offer for all that. I suggest you do the same. It takes just as much time to be magnificent as it does to be okay.
p.s. I realize this post will ruffle some feathers. Consider that mission accomplished.