Women in Business: Prime Challenges

Author: Dr. Cheryl Cottle

The main challenge for many women in business, is how to maintain balance with the many roles and responsibilities that she has to do on a daily basis. As a business owner ideally you are your own boss, but as an entrepreneur you may now have to wear all of the hats in your business, if you don't have financial resources to recruit the right people to fit the various task performances needed to facilitate the operation of your company.

You are often the manager, the sales representative, customer service, the technology expert, the social media specialist, accountant, web master, researcher and public relation personnel, and every role overall that is required to make a business operational and successful. You must also have a clear understanding of the knowledge and skills needed to run a businesses successfully, and has to be prepared to engage in training and development. You therefore need to know the tasks required to fully achieve the company's successful operation. You must also know the skills set required and the personnel required to perform the task.

Identifying these perquisites skills requires that you must also know how to conduct a performance analysis to identify the skills set and the recruitment of the right people. Not accurately doing so will make your recruitment very costly and create a high turnover of employees as you blindly search for  the right person — being a system analysis will help greatly. I think that this is one reason why some small companies collapse. Just by having the wrong people in right position — it never works. What would be of great help is to recruit a person with the skills and knowledge that you may have a deficit in, but most time, what prevents us from doing so, is not having the finance to recruit or even train an employee.

Employers, especially small business owners recruit an employee with the skills set that is needed to run the organization more effectively, but the mere thought that the employee having more knowledge than the owner-manager, is perceived as a treat. Such an employee is often perceived as coming in to "take over their business." They become fearful that they will be overshadowed and their power and control will be dissipated. This unfounded fear and I say unfounded because for most people looking for a job, is really concern with, once I do my job and my boss is happy, I want my paycheck."  He or she does not want to take over your business. That is not his/her plans or his/her intention. This fear of loosing their position often result in "knowledge control" where the owner/ manager begins to "micro manage" the employee. This often result in the employee giving up and walking out of the job regardless of what contractual terms were agreed upon, it is that's bad.

Managing your business venture as a business professional, is one of the challenges face by female entrepreneurs. In addition to these roles, you are also a wife, mother, mother-in-law and caregiver to adult parents and grand-parents — these has greatly expanded your roles and responsibilities. How do you find a balance with so many ares of your life you MUST attend to?

A guest on my radio show, Women in Business Radio pointed out she had the insight that she could not singly managed her business into the vision that she wanted, so very early she recruited two women to be a part of her team of "knowledge workers" to do so. For the purpose of this paper and to maintain her anonymity, I will refer to her as Lora. Lora says, "today it has been the best decision that I have made. They are both still with me today." Ask any woman in business to tell you what are her business strategies that she uses to grow her business and she will say networking, connecting, brainstorming, collaborating and teamwork. Lora also believes that a team that reflects diversity in the resources and skills sets, will create a collaborative team that will be productive and effective in managing any business structure. What she has working for her is a team of women who she can collaborate with and generate ideas that are workable. A team of creative women with expert skills in entrepreneurship, and where each individal skills balances off the other, making it a whole effective machinery.

Having the right team of individuals — bounded by respect and reciprocity is another element that is needed to run any successful business. Lora's team of decision makers consist of women who believed in her business and devoted their time, and intelligence to making it a success — and it has been a success. In the 10 years of its establishment, her business has grown from a 3 woman's team to over 225 employees. It also has a annual earning of 23 million dollars. Similar to other women in business Lora also has a passion for what she is doing. She is also dedicated and committed to its success.

Lora also believes that life should be lived without regrets and that we should enjoy every moment of it. She believes that whatever we do, life should be lived on purpose. Jen also voiced the same sentiments,  "that as a creative entrepreneur, you must love what you do in order to withstand some of the challenges you may face in the daily functioning of your business". Similarly to Lora, Jen's personal philosophy is intricately tied into her business philosophy. Lora is a very passionate woman who embraces life for all its beauty. Although she works very hard, she is also mindful of having "me time" to rest and restore herself. In addition to having a successful business, Lora is also a writer; and is the author of several books. She also sings and plays the piano as well as an artist. She believes that to have a striving business and continuity, one has to be also focused and as such is grossly involved in meditation. This puts her in a very spiritual, soul-centered position — in tune with herself and the environment around her; and at the same time keeps her body, mind and spirit in oneness with her God. Therefore her passion and purpose are intricately tied together and are very integral to the success and growth of her business.

Several years ago when I was reading for my doctorate in education, and I was researching for my doctoral dissertation, my thesis supervisor said that I will move much easier with my work, when I become passionate about it. What he was suggesting is that I will have to move from being intellect, thinking with my brain, to thinking with my heart. I had to become passionate, and it was heart-centered. One day as I was talking with a peer about my research, she said “Cheryl you have a great deal of passion for your work.” It was then, that I realized I had reached the stage where I embraced my research with passion; and that this is what my supervisor was talking about. He too eventually had a great deal of passion for what I was doing. He had almost come to seeing and feeling the work as if it was his. Passion allows you to own, defend and to ensure that it becomes the best that it can become.

Another sign of success regardless of the discipline, is being excited and motivated at all times to work at your business — in the growth and development of it. It is like caring for a baby. You begin to care even before the baby is born, throughout very much into adulthood and beyond. although to a lesser extent. Keeping your spirit of entrepreneurship ignited can be difficult for some, while for others, it comes easy.

"Passion is the fire that ignites us to achieve our goals. It is what causes us to create and to be productive. It is an emotion when ignited, absorbs us and causes us to lead from the perspective of belief and love. Love, enthusiasm, commitment, and dedication are the energies that manifest the emotion of passion within us. You believe in it and therefore you can do it. Passion is what gives us the confidence to transcend all obstacles and gain triumph and success in what ever venture we undertake." ~ Dr. Cheryl Cottle

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