In my years as an entrepreneur and business coach, I’ve had the privilege of working with many women business leaders. They’re responsible for opening my eyes to many glaring weaknesses I had that I never would have figured out on my own. It’s women’s intuition, working out for men’s benefit, as always.
In this article, I’d like to share six of the biggest, most important lessons I’ve learned from women. I believe every entrepreneur, man or woman (but especially men) can stand to learn, and re-learn, these lessons in their entrepreneurial journey.
Lesson #1: People Over Profits.
Before, I was all about results, sales, the bottom line. But my results-oriented approach was so unfeeling that I ended up alienating the people who mattered – my customers, my staff, my partners, and even my own family members.
Women entrepreneurs taught me to focus on integrity first, results second. They taught me that being successful in business doesn’t matter if you don’t succeed in life. Be a decent human being first, do the right thing first. The results will follow.
Lesson #2: Communicate By Listening.
I’ve seen first-hand how women are better communicators than men. Not because they know what they say, but because they know how to LISTEN. Not only will being quiet and listening open your eyes to new ideas and perspectives, but it also gives you control during conflicts, because the one who’s LESS emotional tends to be the one in charge.
And speaking of emotions…
Lesson #3: Not Acting On Impulse.
Emotions make the world go ‘round. It’s what starts wars, ends wars, starts families, etc. The key is to know WHICH emotions to act on, and which NOT to act on.
Easiest example: When someone in your company screws up. Blowing up and chewing that person out will almost never fix the problem, and almost always make it worse.
Instead, find a way to make the best out of the problem. Women entrepreneurs have taught me that problems tend to have the seed of their own solutions hidden in them – find it, plant it, and reap the rewards in time.
Lesson #4: Fall In Love With Your Customer.
Some of the most resilient women entrepreneurs I’ve met have a secret weapon that lets them ride out even the worst of economic downturns, and that is to fall in love with their customers.
“Focus on your ideal customers, and fall in love with them,” they told me. “They’re the ones who’ll stick with you in the worst of times. And if you can survive the worst of times, you’ll thrive the rest of the time.”
Lesson #5: Don’t Go It Alone.
Don’t go it alone because you can’t do it alone. Expanding your network, recruiting the best people, letting go of people who aren’t working out for you – all of these are “necessary evils” in business.
The key? Women entrepreneurs would tell you to simply get out of your comfort zone. You need to “graduate” from operating your business to OWNING your business, and letting people you trust operate it for you, so you can go do more important things.
Lesson #6: Act First, Think Later.
Every entrepreneur feels fear sometimes, and women entrepreneurs tell me they feel it doubly so, thanks to the unfair biases society tends to have towards women. But they also came up with a way to deal with that, and that’s to act first and think later.
Afraid of something? Change your mindset, tell yourself you MUST do it, and then do it. The confidence will follow. And most times, good things tend to happen simply because you took action when most other people wouldn’t.
I hope these lessons help you as much as they’ve helped me. Happy Women’s History Month!
Photo: Getty Images