Sometimes I feel like a dinosaur. I grew up with fairy tales, no not the reworked kind, the ones with white horse rescues and happily ever after. I had dancing lessons, though I remain a bit of a klutz to this day, and singing lessons. The voice lessons were a bit more successful and I spent many happy years performing on the stage. I got a liberal arts degree and assumed I would do things like have dinner parties when I married. That was then.
It’s not that I did not plan to work. It’s just that in the blissful ignorance typical of my generation I thought I’d be working for “extra money”. I assumed that my husband would provide for me and any children I had and that my income would give us all the little niceties of modern life. What a foolish and ultimately dangerous belief. Thankfully I really was rescued… by entrepreneurship.
Learning to think and to live like an entrepreneur provided me with a kind of bliss that dependency never could. The grand romance of my life turned out to be entrepreneurship.
Like many women, as I grew older I learned that a man is not a plan. Painful things happen. Divorce, widowhood, disability and even natural disasters can smash even the most secure feeling situation. And just like I learned that no man was going to truly take total responsibility for my well-being, I also learned that no employer would ever take charge of my career. I needed a new view of life, and I got it. I believe that all women, regardless of marital status, should consider a romance with entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurial thinking enables women to take more calculated risks, negotiate better deals or salaries, and see life’s problems as opportunities to excel. The core qualities of a successful entrepreneur (and I teach a class around these) are also the characteristics that enable a modern woman to take care of herself and her career—whether she chooses business ownership or corporate work. Here are the aptitudes slightly adapted as they apply specifically to women.
1. Great product or service idea: Every women needs to have some idea about what she has to offer either as a business or as an employee. Not sure what you have to offer? Do a talents and skills inventory.
2. Financial literacy: Just like business owners, women need to know how money works. There is nothing wrong with hiring experts to help you, but YOU need to understand where your money is coming from and going.
3. Negotiation skills: Whether working a business deal or lobbying for a raise, smart women know that negotiation is the key to getting more of what you want and need.
4. Sales and presentation skills: The era of personal branding means that we are all selling something—usually you’re selling YOU. Women must learn to speak with confidence and brag about their accomplishments. After all, no one will do this for you.
5. Flexibility in the face of change: Life is unpredictable. The fastest and most responsive entrepreneurs survive to do business another day. Women must be ready and able to change with circumstances. Holding on to what used-to-be can ruin your business and your life.
Learning to plan and execute like an entrepreneur helped me through many hard times both personal and professional. A new way of thinking allowed me to see options instead of dead-ends. Studying, teaching and immersing myself in the world of entrepreneurship opened doors for me and I’ve been able to do things I never dreamed of in my early fairy tale days. And yes, being more independent has given me a chance for romance as well.
There’s nothing wrong with being a romantic as long as you don’t expect love to solve all your problems. So go ahead, fall in love and marry… or stay single and free. Just don’t forget to have a long affair with entrepreneurship.
About Our Guest Blogger: Karen Southall Watts has been training and coaching entrepreneurs and managers since 1999. Her business and educational articles have been featured in Forbes.com, multiple independent business blogs and Evolllution.com. Karen specializes in complex business topics boiled down into everyday language and practical, actionable steps. With a background that includes women’s counseling and even work on a suicide hotline, Karen brings a unique blend of hard business knowledge and soft business skills to the mix. Her background in musical theater means she will hold the attention of your group and give them a memorable experience. Karen has a degree in humanities, an advanced degree in management and TEFL certification. Karen teaches business at the community college level in Washington State. Find her on Twitter @askkaren and check out her blog.