Many of the personality traits that make great business leaders are what make today’s entrepreneurial women shine. Your positive mindset and out-of-the-box thinking got you to where you are today. You’re likely a risk taker, and you know the importance of building a strong network.
But these strong character attributes can have a dark side. That expansive, idea-generating mind of yours might not always have the patience for tedious details. And you might find yourself scrambling to gain your footing after you miscalculated one too many business risks.
Nobody knows your business or product better than you do. But how well do you know…you? One of the keys to success is the ability to be brutally honest with yourself and understand both your strengths and your weaknesses: the successes that enabled you to build your business, and the traits that can potentially take you down.
Take a look at three personality traits many entrepreneurs share and how they can be polished to make you shine:
An Expansive Mindset
Many entrepreneurs tend to be creative, wide-open thinkers. We’re also naturally positive people who make things happen. This type of mindset lends itself to being an idea generator, which means we might not have the attention span required for an abundance of business details. Many business owners simply don’t have the patience for every detail or to think over every aspect of a project.
Most business owners are used to managing everything – it’s just in our nature. But as your business grows, so do your needs. And not every task will be suited to your strengths. It can even be a detriment to your growth if you try to tackle too many details that are outside your core capabilities.
How to Shine
Learning what tasks to delegate and when to do so can be the difference between holding yourself back and propelling your business forward to the next phase of your success. Build a strong team that helps complement your strengths and fills in any gaps where you may be lacking.
If you’re a big-picture thinker, it’s important to surround yourself with detail-oriented people. Make sure you have strong teams in place for your accounting, bookkeeping, and benefits needs. Empower your team to make decisions – both at work and at home – then step back and let them do their work. Establish priorities and expectations, and ask your team to give you clear deadlines as well. When anyone asks for your input and approvals, be sure to give them what they need, when they need it; the last thing you want to be is the one who’s always holding up a project.
Being a Risk Taker
As entrepreneurs, we typically tend to take more risks in business. We understand that there may not always be the big payoff we’re hoping for, but we’re willing to take the risk if we believe strongly enough in the opportunity. And we know that if we don’t go after it, we have absolutely zero chance of getting it.
While the best clients and projects tend to come from existing relationships and connections, new business growth also involves actively going after new accounts. But you simply can’t go after every new opportunity or big idea; you have to analyze the risk involved vs. the potential reward. Submitting proposals for new work takes time and energy, and can be a drain on morale and resources when there’s no reward.
How to Shine
Sometimes opportunities that seemed perfect in every way can lead nowhere, and it’s important to look at what happened.
Every time an idea falls short or we failed to land a client, I look at the reasons why. Was the client being accurate in sharing their actual budget? Did we answer all of the questions in the RFP? Was there a relationship between the client and the winning agency that we didn’t know about? Was there some other information we didn’t have up front? Were they just fishing for information? Did they just need to fill a quota in the number of bids on the project?
This is all critical information to have, so I try to find out as much information about why so that we can learn and do better. As long as we can learn from where something went wrong, we can build on that information and be prepared for even bigger success in the future.
This approach also helps to take a bit of the sting out of rejection. When you learn to look at failure as just part of the process, then learning to fail better helps you to move faster. It also increases your chances that the risks you take will bring in more rewards.
A Natural Networker
Having a strong network is critical to good business. I love meeting people in person, hearing their stories, and learning about what led to their success. Any time I’m looking for a lead on a business connection, hoping to help a young graduate, or have a business question, I first look to my network. And after almost twenty-five years, I’ve built a solid foundation of trusted friends and business associates I can count on.
Entrepreneurs often see connections in ways others might not. We tend to be opportunistic, meaning that we’re always on alert for new connections and ways to make things happen. Having a strong network enables these relationships and connections to grow organically. Associations and networking events are a great way to meet like-minded people and build your business connections, but they can also be a huge drain on your most precious resource: your time.
How to Shine
It’s important to balance your business connections with actually working on your business. There have been seasons where I’ve joined organizations and spent a good amount of time at networking events. There have also been many business cycles where I’ve completely cut back on all luncheons, conferences, or any business travel that wasn’t absolutely necessary.
Be more strategic about your time. Identify which organizations and associations are really worth the effort, and don’t be afraid to scale back on others. Make the most of your existing relationships by following up when you say you will and helping others.
The shortcomings of many enterprising women are often the flip side of their strengths. When you can identify your weaknesses, you can work to strengthen them and build your team with individuals who complement your skillset. Learn to focus on the areas of your business where you excel while polishing your weaknesses, and you’ll continue to shine brightly.
This article first appeared in the Fall 2019 edition of Enterprising Women Magazine. Please click the logo to go to Enterprising Women Magazine: