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One thing we can all agree on is that female entrepreneurs don't get enough press -- even the successful ones. Here's a guest post from Mary Fernandez, a visibility strategist who helps entrepreneurs stand out online.
With ongoing news of inequalityunequal pay and a lack women at boardroom levelbusinesswomen clearly still have challenges to face. I've been running my PR agency Boomerang for four years now and it certainly hasn't been easy.
What every woman business owner needs to know to succeed
Seven-day weeks, hour days — it's tough, but being a woman hasn't even come into it in my opinion. There have been rare occasions when I've suddenly become uncomfortably aware of my gender. A prospective client once asked questions that hinted at whether I intended to have children — I suppose my answer would have determined his decision to hire me.
Then there's the look of surprise when you tell certain men you are the managing director or the misogynistic comments, patronizing remarks and not being treated as an equal in meetings. But despite the odd experience, I don't believe being a woman has held me back or altered my chance of success. Being a successful businesswoman really comes down to personality. I've always been fiercely independent, confident and determined to succeed. And whenever I meet other female entrepreneurs, they share similar characteristics.
With this in mind, if you're a woman or indeed a man who wants to start your own business, read the following top 10 traits that I believe make a successful entrepreneur.
Look at any successful businesswoman and you will discover how much they truly believe in themselves. Self-belief is probably the single most important trait possessed by any successful entrepreneur. If you don't believe you can succeed, then you won't get very far.
How to become a successful business woman
And if you think you can't, you're right. Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg recently challenged women to have the courage to be as ambitious as men. While this makes me cringe because all the women I've ever known are ambitious, it's definitely a trait that both successful men and women possess.
You have to really want something if you're going to succeed. And you should never settle for second best. Always strive to push forward. Always aim for the top. What's stopping you? Confidence is essential if you want to win clients and build a profitable business.
What every woman business owner needs to know to succeed
Confidence will win people's respect, earn their trust and gain you a solid reputation. When walking into any room, hold your head up high and stand tall. When greeting people for the first time, smile, shake their hand, hold eye contact — be confident. And if you're having an 'off day' repeat positive affirmations in your head.
Take inspiration from female aviator Beryl Markham: "Success breeds confidence. Successful female entrepreneurs are always passionate about what they do because they tend to create businesses around the things they enjoy. Oprah Winfrey suffered a difficult childhood, then built a career around her passion to help others.
Anita Roddick was passionate about environmental and social activism and her company, The Body Shop, was the first to prohibit the use of products tested on animals. Find your own passion, believe in it and turn it into something you can really be proud of. As Anita Roddick once said: "To succeed you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality. You cannot rest on your laurels when you run your own business. The creative industries are always changing, so you will constantly need to keep up and innovate.
Women’s guide to business school
Successful female entrepreneurs know this and will work hard to learn and improve all the time. They'll read books, go to workshops and be willing to learn from others. Successful businesswomen will always be humble. They'll never be afraid to admit they don't know everything and will always strive to boost their skills.
There is no point in starting a business unless you possess a strong sense of purpose. You have to believe that you are destined for great and good things. Just look at women like Coco Chanel or Oprah Winfrey — they believed they had a purpose in life. They wanted to make a difference, and they certainly did. To be a successful female entrepreneur you have to believe in yourself and believe that what you are doing is making a difference.
That strong sense of purpose will be reflected in your business, which will only stand the test of time. To be a successful businesswoman you have to be assertive, otherwise people will not respect you. Convey assertiveness by being fearless, speaking with authority and purpose. Adopt a confident manner, deal with any criticism rationally and be calm, cool and considered.
Singer Marsha Evans once remarked: "You can have unbelievable intelligence, you can have connections, you can have opportunities fall out of the sky. But in the end, hard work is the true, enduring characteristic of successful people. That is the recipe. Hard work is the secret to success.
You have to be prepared to work long hours and sacrifice your spare time to build up a business.
Whether you're a man or woman, it takes guts to run a business and deal with all the difficult challenges you will undoubtedly face. You have to constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone to move forward, boost confidence and ultimately succeed.
5 things every business woman needs
This means you have to take risks and accept that when things go wrong, you can always survive and turn things around. Be brave and you will never look back. Starting a business is one thing, keeping it going is another matter entirely. To be a successful businesswoman, you have to be persistent and never give up. Granted, there will be days when you feel like sticking your head in the sand. But when you're feeling down, remember why you went solo in the first place. Remind yourself of all the things you've achieved.
Stick at it because the next best triumph could be just around the corner. Katy Cowan runs the Creative Boom website voluntarily — she is a trained journalist, writer and PR professional.
This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To get more articles like this direct to your inbox, up free to become a member of the Culture Professionals Network. Culture professionals network. The top 10 traits of successful, creative businesswomen. If you're a woman or indeed a man wanting to start your own business, Creative Boom's Katy Cowan knows what it takes. How do I succeed in business? Let me count the ways.
Self-belief Look at any successful businesswoman and you will discover how much they truly believe in themselves. Ambition Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg recently challenged women to have the courage to be as ambitious as men. Confidence Confidence is essential if you want to win clients and build a profitable business.
Sense of purpose There is no point in starting a business unless you possess a strong sense of purpose. Assertiveness To be a successful businesswoman you have to be assertive, otherwise people will not respect you.
Hard work Singer Marsha Evans once remarked: "You can have unbelievable intelligence, you can have connections, you can have opportunities fall out of the sky. Bravery Whether you're a man or woman, it takes guts to run a business and deal with all the difficult challenges you will undoubtedly face. Persistence Starting a business is one thing, keeping it going is another matter entirely. Topics Culture professionals network Professional development blogposts.
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