More and more women are entering executive ranks in business or starting their own companies, yet career women must often overcome obstacles to achieve professional success. Regardless of whether they’re moving up the corporate ladder or working to build a start-up, here are some tips all businesswomen might consider.
1. Define your goals. Create a mind map of your end objectives. Then, work backward from these objectives to develop a strategy to ultimately reach your professional goals. Your goals should be written out, though not etched in stone, so you can stay open to new business opportunities. Your career or your business will evolve over time, and your business model should change when opportunities present themselves, so remain nimble to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities.
Each day, set aside time, even a few minutes, to work on your business objectives, adding concrete steps to each objective and slowly developing an achievement strategy.
Finally, set goals that are reasonable. Consider things like available capital, your personal life, professional contacts, and other considerations so you can define objectives that are reasonable and attainable, given the “whole” you.
2. Create a to-do list. Create a calendar and make sure that each day you do something that moves you closer to goal achievement. Plan ahead – sometimes months ahead – to address the “big picture” and create both short- and long-term to-do lists. When you know what’s coming, you can address challenges with a cool head and a cool strategy.
3. Accept challenges. This tip, from Claudette Christian, co-chair of a global legal practice, comes straight from Forbes®. Women sometimes face challenges that their male counterparts don’t face. Ms. Christian told Forbes, “At each stage of my career, I bit off more than others thought I could chew.” As a woman in the world of business, don’t let yourself be defined by the expectations of others. Bite off more than you can chew and gladly accept the new challenge.
4. Ambition is good. Ambitious men are considered go-getters. Ambitious women, however, may be perceived as having misplaced priorities. Unfortunately, some of the old biases are still there, despite the fact that more and more women are taking places of leadership in business, government, academia and other critical areas of society.
Don’t let the old ideas of how women should behave hold you back in your career. Women sometimes believe that ambition is inappropriate for women. This stale old stereotype should never keep you from moving forward – you have goals to reach.
5. Lead. In the corporate world, every position offers leadership opportunities – chances to be pro-active, even if it’s the head of the Office Party Committee. Find opportunities to lead at every level, as you move up the ladder to success. Demonstrate your people skills and your thinking skills by volunteering, and by keeping a high profile at every level of career or business growth.
6. Network. If you’re working at a large company, seek out the sharpest minds – the creative, driving forces. They’re easy to find after you’ve been on the job for a while. Cultivate solid professional relationships with these business leaders. And if you do have a good relationship with a successful colleague, ask for a more formal mentoring relationship that delivers concentrated, real-world experience more efficiently than casual watching.1 If you own your own business, reach out to others in your community or your profession and build a network that can propel you to success.2
7. Maintain your confidence. You’ll hit a wall now and then. You’ll fall flat a time or two. You won’t meet your objectives as expected. Learn all you can from these missteps and maintain confidence in yourself and your skills. We often learn our best lessons from our worst mistakes. And just because you failed this time, it does NOT make you a failure. Confidence is essential in order for women to grow careers or businesses. Don’t let a setback derail your strategies and tactics.
Women in business may face outdated, old-time biases, but today, these biases are disappearing as more women take power in all areas of endeavor. It’s also true that businesswomen sometimes face the same uncertainty, self-doubt and second-guessing experienced by businessmen. It’s simply a part of career success and moving on to something bigger.
Millions of far-thinking women have done it. Are you next up the ladder?
1. Click here for a NevadaSmallBusiness article about finding a mentor.
2. Click here for a NevadaSmallBusiness article about networking.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.