Being a woman in business is a tough balancing act. We’re expected to look like a woman but act like a man. If we look too much like a woman, though, we are called a rhymes-with-shut. If we act too much like a man, then we are labeled a rhymes-with-witch – or worse. It seems like we can’t win.
But we can.
Whether you are a small business owner, freelancer, or happily working your way up the corporate ladder, here are 7 ways to be a better woman in business in 2014:
There are a lot of mean people out there who see weakness and take advantage of it. Even if you do not feel 100 percent confident, don’t let anyone know. Set firm boundaries, get things in writing, look people in the eye, speak clearly, don’t second-guess yourself out loud during a conversation, and if something is unclear, speak up.
Don’t under price yourself
Undervaluing ourselves is the biggest mistakes women make. Whether you’re negotiating a contract or a salary, do not underprice yourself. Ever. Do your research on going rates and salaries. Evaluate your skill set, the results you bring to the table, and your accomplishments. Then price accordingly.
Think in billable hours
This is a corollary to the above. If you’re a freelancer and working on an hourly basis, always think in billable hours. Any time you spend emailing, talking about or thinking about the project, it’s billable. Don’t give away your time for free (but don’t go overboard, either).
Don’t apologize unless it is truly your fault
As women, it is somehow ingrained in us to apologize for everything. Unless you did something wrong, don’t apologize. If the traffic was awful because it was raining cats and dogs out and you ended up being 20 minutes late for a meeting, it is not your fault! Instead of immediately saying, “I’m sorry,” say “Thank you so much for waiting for me. Traffic – what a nightmare!”
Let others brag for you
You’re awesome. You know you are, your friends and colleagues know you are, and your clients know you are. So let them do the bragging for you. Whenever a project wraps up, ask for recommendations on LinkedIn. If you have your own business, repurpose them into quotes and testimonials for your website.
Don’t be mean
Being mean gets you nowhere. People won’t want to work with you or for you, and your projects and business will suffer for it – to the point that everything will likely collapse. If you’re having a bad day – and we all have them – force yourself to laugh. You’ll instantly feel better and thus be in a more positive, and nicer, frame of mind.
Support other women
I have had so much support from female bosses, colleagues, and friends over the years that I am constantly looking to pay it forward to other women. I am always available to listen to ideas, brainstorm solutions to challenges, share project components, offer recommendations, and give advice to the women in my life. We are all connected, so if they succeed, I succeed.
All of the above are things that I have learned through observation, and, of course, the hard way. What else would you add to the list?
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