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8 Rules For An Awesome Life As A Female Entrepreneur

This week I wanted to take some time out to discuss a topic I absolutely love: entrepreneurship.

Life as a female entrepreneur can be tough.

We pour our hearts and souls into our businesses, work long hours, and often (at least initially) have little tangible to show for it. Our To Do Lists are unending. Our friends rarely see us. We have no time for our hobbies, and even less time for self-care. The learning curve is incredibly steep, and seemingly unending.

On top of that, many of us are juggling families, children, and other commitments.

It all takes time, energy, and mental bandwidth.

So how do we cope? How do we build the business we constantly dream of, and create the products and services we know, right down to our very core, we were born to bring into the world?

I’ve been at this a while now, and along the way I’ve put in place eight rules to ensure my life as an entrepreneur is utterly awesome…

Rule #1: Be True To You…

You will find me saying this in a lot of different posts for a lot of different topics, and that’s why it is my rule number one.

Be true to you.

I’ve used this quote before and I’m going to use it again. It’s my favourite quote from Dr Seuss… “Today you are you, that is truer than true, there is no one alive who is youer than you.”

When it comes to business and being an entrepreneur that is so important thing to remember.

The most successful entrepreneurs are the people who threw themselves into their work, whole heartedly, as their own true (usually slightly demented) selves. They were consistently true to themselves and their vision of what they wanted to do.

And it pays off.

Why It Works…

People get behind authenticity. They get behind that someone they sense is being authentic, being genuine, being true to themselves. They can relate to people better when they believe that they are relating to a real person. You will find that they like you a lot more, and a lot more easily, if you are just being yourself.

That doesn’t mean everybody will like you, I’ve done a whole post on that; not everybody will like you and that is a good thing.

The thing you really have to remember is that you started your business. You do things your way. That is your vision. There is literally nobody else alive who could have thought to do things the way you’re doing them, who could have built the business that you are building.

And that’s so important because it’s that unique quality, it’s that total bespoke approach to the world that is going to build you a tribe, build you a business, and make you successful.

So this is rule number one, and it is unbreakable. Unbreakable.

Be true to you.

Rule #2: Don’t Allow Yourself To Be Limited By The Limited Imaginations Of Others…

This is related to rule number one: don’t allow yourself to be limited by the limited imagination of others. By that, I mean you will often have a vision of what you want to do, an idea of where you’re going with your business, of services that you want to provide, and products you want to create. You will have a dream. You will be absolutely adamant that you can do it, and it will be your obsession. You will be following it and chasing it…

And then somebody will say to you, “That’ll never work. Nobody’s gonna want that. Why would you even bother? Is that even a thing? What, are you a con man? Are you conning people? Is that real? You can’t have an online business….you can’t have a blog…what’s a blog? A blog’s not a business. That’s just you talking to yourself, that’s just narcissism. That’s what a blog is, a blog is narcissism, you’re just a narcissist.”

Their Issues, Not Yours…

This is not an issue with you!

You are running into trouble because other people have limited imaginations. They don’t have your vision. They can’t see things the way that you’re seeing them. They can’t envision the world the way you’re envisioning it. And that’s a failure on their part not on your part.

The fact that other people can’t get behind your vision, and can’t believe in what you’re seeing, is not really their fault either.

It’s just that they don’t see it, for whatever reason. It might be because their areas of interest are elsewhere, it might be because their expertise is elsewhere, it might be because they have no frame of reference to understand what you’re doing. But for whatever reason they’re just not getting it. And that’s because their imaginations are limited to the expanse of their own world, their own vision.

That should not limit you.

Don’t ever curtail your vision, don’t ever curtail your dream. Don’t ever stop and say, “Oh god, maybe I shouldn’t go down that road. Maybe I shouldn’t do that. Maybe I shouldn’t do it that way because they don’t get it. They don’t see it.”

“So and so says it’s not going to work!”

Rule #3: Stop Seeking Permission and Looking for Validation from Other People…

That’s not to say you shouldn’t surround yourself with people who are totally on board with what you’re doing; who are at the same place as you in life; who can encourage you.

You should.

But you need to stop looking for that kind of support in people who aren’t able to give it you.

The Problem With My Mum…

God love her. I adore her. My mum’s incredibly supportive of me, and my business. But a lot of the time I try and explain what I’m doing and she gets confused. Not because I’m talking nonsense, but because she has no frame of reference: she’s not got a background in business, she doesn’t understand marketing, she’s got no idea what content marketing is.

The other day I was really excited because I’d just signed a new client. I was telling her all about them and what I was going to do for them: content marketing. I said, “I’m going to be writing their blog, to build a tribe, and help them find new clients.”

And she was like, “Oh…isn’t that what you just paid Simon to do for you?”

She was referring to was the fact that I’ve recently started doing an AdWords campaign. When I decided to do that, I hired somebody that knew what they were doing with AdWords, and got him to run it for me.

To her mind, those two things were the same. She then couldn’t understand how I was paying somebody to do something that other people were paying me to do.

When you have people in your life who are (in the nicest possible sense) ‘challenged’ in that way, in that they don’t understand what you’re doing, you can’t look to them for validation.

They’re Not There For Support…

Look to them for encouragement, but you shouldn’t rely on them for the support that you need.

For one thing, you will spend half your life trying to explain what you’re doing and hitting a brick wall. For another, their lack of understanding of what you’re doing, where you’re going, and what you’re trying to achieve, will come out in quite negative ways.

They might not mean to, but they will often be a bit, “Oh, well that’s not going to work because…”

And it’s not that it’s ‘not going to work’, it’s just that they can’t understand how it can work, because they don’t understand it.

That really ties back to asking for permission. And this is a huge problem for female entrepreneurs.

Female Entrepreneurs: Looking for Permission in All The Wrong Places…

How many female entrepreneurs have husbands, partners, wives, parents, even children, who make us feel like we can’t act unless we have their permission. We can’t do anything big with our lives without their permission. We have to run it past them first, and make sure they think it’s okay.

Especially if there’s a financial element to it.

I know a lot of female entrepreneurs who are just starting out building their businesses, many of them after they’ve taken time off to have children. Their husbands/partners are normally the breadwinner. They are normally the person in charge of the finances. They usually have a say in everything related to money. When these women started their business, they often found they needed money from their Other Half to help get their business going, and support them. Because of that, even after they’ve reached a point where they’re making money on their own, they still find themselves constantly checking with their Other Half. Asking if it’s okay for them to do this.

Especially if it involves spending money. They won’t take a course unless the Other Half has signed off on it. They won’t invest in advertising unless the Other Half thinks it’s going to work.

Informed Permission…

And that’s fine, if the person you’re asking permission from understands what you’re doing and has a really good idea of what will and won’t work. But if they are, for example, like my mother and have absolutely no clue, asking them for permission is counterproductive, because they will often be quite cautious on your behalf. They don’t want to see you make mistakes, they don’t want to see you go wrong.

If they can’t understand how something can work, they will caution you against it, they will withhold that permission, they will tell you not to do it, and they won’t support you in it. Not because they’re being unsupportive, but because they’re trying to protect you, and they don’t have enough understanding to comprehend they’ve made the wrong call, and what they should be doing is telling you to go for it full throttle.

You need to seek permission from people who are in a position to give an informed opinion. That’s so important. This is why having mastermind groups and surrounding yourself by people who are in the same boat you’re in is so important. They might be in a slightly different business, it might be a slightly different niche, but they’re in a similar position. They know what you’re going through. They understand the things you need to make decisions about.

Rule #4: Make Your Passion Your Paycheck

I love this one. It’s so important. It’s a simple concept but so many people get it wrong.

If you’re building your own business, starting something from scratch, pouring your heart, soul, and so much time, and often money and resources into something, you really need to make sure it’s something you love.

You will go completely stir crazy if you put all of that into something that you don’t absolutely love. When you really love something, when you’re working on your passion, it’s not really like work because you’re loving doing it. Even the difficult bits. Even the tedious bits. You know it’s for a greater good. If your business is based on something you don’t love (I don’t mean it’s something that you hate, just something you don’t love. You don’t live and breathe it) you’re in trouble. If it’s not something that you wake up in the morning and immediately want to get started doing, you’re going to flounder, you’re going to quickly fall down.

Make sure you are using your passion for your paycheck.

Even if what you love doesn’t sound like a real thing. Even if you’re sitting there thinking, “But I can’t make money doing that. That’s not something people pay you to do. That’s something I love doing.”

You can always find a way of turning the thing you love into a business, if you get really creative with it. Make sure your business is based on your passion.

#Rule 5: Find Your Niche…

Your niche is the one thing you can spend all day doing and be perfectly happy.

Because you are going to have to spend all day doing it, at least initially.

You need to keep niche-ing down. You’ll think “Yes, I’ve found my niche! I’m going to be a writer.”

And then you think about it for a bit longer and you realise that there are millions of different kinds of writers, and that’s not niche-ing enough.

That’s not even a niche, that’s an industry.

Make sure your niche is actually a niche and not an industry or a big sector masquerading as a niche.

Rule #6: Don’t Skimp on Your Planning…

This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours planning things in immaculate detail. It just means that you need to have a plan. It can take lots of different forms. But certainly where content marketing is concerned, planning is the thing that lets people down more than anything else.

They don’t plan. They spit out blog post after blog post, but they have no method to it, they have no design, they have no plan.

And they sort of get it to work for them, but it’s never as powerful as it could have been if they planned it properly.

I use that as a metaphor for business as a whole. You can muddle through without a plan, but when you have a plan, and plan properly, everything will work a lot better and you’ll be a lot more successful than you would have been without the plan.

How I Plan…

Every December I get my Leonie Dawson planner. I go through it and look at the year that’s just gone, and I plan the year that’s to come. I often write notes and things to do, even further ahead than that. But I always make sure that I’ve spent some time planning.

I haven’t actually filled all of my planner in. It’s April now, and I really haven’t filled in all of it.

I’ve used the parts I needed, the parts that were helpful, and I left the other parts there.

I’m sure they’ll be very helpful to other people, and I’m sure I did fill the whole thing in from start to finish it would be helpful. But you don’t have to spend massive amounts of time planning

You just have to make sure you plan.

Rule #7: Invest Wisely in Yourself and Your Business….

This sounds like a bit of a no brainer, but I think there is a tendency when you’re first starting out in business to want to try everything.

You throw everything and the kitchen sink at the problem, and hope that something sticks.

In doing so you end up wasting a lot of money on things that really don’t work, and if you’d stopped and thought about it a little bit more, you’d probably have realised they were never going to work.

My Biggest Investment Mistake…

When I first published my novel, Chasing Azrael, I did lots of work on my ideal client and determined that my ideal clients for my novel read, amongst other things, Gothic Beauty Magazine. I valiantly purchased advertising space in four issues of Gothic Beauty Magazine. It cost me… I don’t even want to tell you how much it cost me. It’s terrifying. it cost me hundreds and hundreds of pounds, and I did not get a single sale.

I did not get one single book sale from hundreds of pounds worth of advertising.

And that’s not because it’s a bad magazine, or my ideal clients aren’t reading the magazine, it is just because, for one thing, print marketing for books that aren’t already well known is never particularly successful. Somewhere in my head, I actually knew that, I just didn’t think about it. But also, the reasons that people read Gothic Beauty Magazine have absolutely nothing to do with fiction.

They’re not used to seeing adverts for fiction books. They’re used to seeing clothes, jewellery, and makeup.

Technically, I was right in terms of my target market, my ideal client, and my demographics etc. But if I’d actually stopped and thought about it I would have realised very quickly that it just wasn’t going to work and saved myself a lot of money.

The Importance of Realising Your Mistakes…

After, I might have thought that the problem was the magazine rather than the medium. So I might have gone and spent a load more money on print advertising in a different magazine, thinking it would have a different effect, and wasting a load more money.

Fortunately I realised what the problem was (wrong medium), and switched to online advertising.

Courses…

Other things I’ve invested in I really wish I hadn’t… There are some courses I’ve done that I had niggling doubts about before I paid for them. I was second guessing myself and thinking, “Should I? Shouldn’t I? I don’t know whether it’s going to be worth it. I’m worried about this aspect… I’m not sure it’s going to cover exactly what want. But I just need to invest in myself, I need to invest in my business, I need to invest in something.”

It’s that initial fear, I suppose, that you don’t know enough, that you need more knowledge and you need to get knowledge from everywhere. It makes you impulsively invest in things that aren’t really the best fit for you.

Some of the courses I’ve bought have been absolutely wonderful, really worth every single penny.

Some of them have been okay, but I probably could have found something that was a better fit for me specifically.

Some of them have just been a total unmitigated waste of an awful lot of money.

Your Investments…

Your investments might not be advertising or courses. It might something like your website…

I know loads of people who have invested an absolutely massive amount of money in their website, at a point in their business when they weren’t quite sure who they were or what they were doing yet.

They’ve reach a stage and realised they’ve got a phenomenally good website that looks great, it’s got all the bells and whistles, but it doesn’t do what they need it to, or it’s targeted at the wrong ideal client.

How To Invest Wisely…

You don’t need everything to be perfect right out of the gate. In order to invest wisely, I would suggest that you always think, “How much do I need right now to get me, or my business, to the point that it absolutely has to be at in order to function?”

Rule #8: Practice Gratitude…

The last rule, but it is by no means the least, is to practise gratitude.

I’m going to be completely honest, this is something that I learnt in therapy. You may or may not know that I have bipolar disorder. So I spend an awful lot of time keeping myself on a nice even keel and making sure that I’m fine. One of the ways I do keeping a Gratitude Journal.

Every day I write down something that I’m grateful for.

Some days these turn into essay-long rants about the wonderful people in my life, or a dog I met in the park, or the fact that I saw a rainbow. Things like that.

Sometimes it’s just a one liner that says “I’m not dead.”

I’m not joking. Some days I’m simply grateful for is the fact that I’m still alive.

The Bipolarity of Business…

The way I look at business is that it is a lot like (if you’ll bear with me) being bipolar…

When you’re bipolar you have big ups, you have big downs, and you have lots of days in between when you’re kind of a little up or a little down. And it’s really easy, especially when you’re on the ‘down days’, to get stuck in this, “Oh my god, it’s all going wrong, it’s all too hard, I’m so tired, I haven’t got any time, I’m so stressed, I’ve got so much to do!” mentality. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed.

And if you get overwhelmed, the overwhelm snowballs and very quickly becomes worse. So those little dips can quickly turn into great big dips that leave you incapable of doing anything for days, and even weeks.

You really need to kind of keep a handle on that.

Similarly, there are the ‘up days’, where everything’s going absolutely perfectly, everything’s working exactly as you want it to, and you’re on top of the world.

The Ups and Downs…

You can get a bit carried away. You think, “Oh, I’ve just got this new client, so I’m going to have loads of new money coming in, and I’ll have loads more clients, so I can afford to do this, that and the other…”

You get ahead of yourself a little bit. And you can over-commit, in terms of time, or finances, or just energy, the amount of energy you have to put into something.

You can over commit.

You’re so excited, you’re in such a great place, and everything is going so well…you just get lost in it.

Staying Tethered…

Practicing gratitude every day is really just checking in with yourself, where you’re at in your business. It doesn’t have to take long, it can be one line, or it can be an essay. If you prefer to do it in your head, you can; you don’t need to write it down. But try and think of everything in your business that you’re grateful for on a daily basis.

The thing that I am grateful for every single day in my business are my clients, because without my clients I would not have a business, and I do not delude myself into thinking that there is any plausible way that I would be here without them.

So you can grateful for your clients, for a particular piece of software that makes our life easier, a coach that’s helping you, a community that’s supporting you, a bank loan that came at the exact right time, it really doesn’t matter…it’s as varied in business as it is in life.

The important thing is to focus on the good and to make sure that you have something that keeps you tethered. You need to avoid getting over-excited, or sinking into overwhelm. It’s important you find ways to avoid losing yourself in thoughts like,“Oh my God, it’s so hard!”

Because it is hard. Running a business is hard and there are going to be days where you’re like that.

You need to manage the ups and downs in your business the same way that I need to manage the ups and downs in my mood. Because if you don’t keep on top of it, it gets away from you. You can either end up on top of the world, or in a really deep hole. And when you’re in those states, things go very wrong very quickly…

Until Next Week…

That’s it from me for this week. I hope you’ve enjoyed my rules and they are helpful to you. If you have any comments or questions do please pop them below, otherwise like this post, share this post, and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you never miss fabulous videos from me and Dexter…

8 Rules For An Awesome Life As A Female Entrepreneur

The Rebellious Muse: On The Nature Of Creativity And Entrepreneurship

Hi, darlings!

This week we’re looking at creativity and entrepreneurship and a little concept I like to call the Rebellious Muse.

Now, for those of you don’t know your classical mythology and the muses were the inspirational goddesses of Greek myth. They presided over literature, science, and the arts, and were highly esteemed as a source of all the knowledge held in the poetry, songs, and myths of the ancient Greeks and a lot of the cultures and societies that came before them.

Now by some accounts they were the daughters of Zeus, king of the gods of Olympia, by other accounts they were the daughters of Gaia, the great earth mother. Either way that’s some fairly astonishing parentage, and they were very important in the Greek Pantheon even though they weren’t individually recognised as major daisies.

I should probably explain why I’m talking about Greek myth. I spent quite a lot of time talking about mythology and the psychology that kind of goes with mythology. Anyone familiar with my Divine Blogging Design, which is my signature method of blogging, knows that it’s based on archetypes, and the notion that, psychologically, all humans conform to one of about twelve archetypes. If you can identify your audience and narrow it down to a specific archetype, and write specifically for that particular archetype, you will totally nail your copy.

That’s the Divine Blogging Design in a nutshell.

The Rebellious Muse: On The Nature Of Creativity And Entrepreneurship

The Rebellious Muse…

The Rebellious Muse is a concept I came up with while I was thinking about the particular kind of creative flair entrepreneurs have and how it differs from other forms of creativity. There are a lot of incredibly creative, incredibly intelligent people in the world, and not all of them are entrepreneurs. But what I’ve noticed from spending a lot of time with other entrepreneurs is that there’s a particular type of creative thought that tends to come with being an entrepreneur.

I think this is one of the reasons a lot of people become entrepreneurs, because they have this whimsical creative flair in them, and it doesn’t really fit into normal jobs and career tracks. It’s the thing that makes us not really like the nine to five grind, working in an office, not being your own boss, and not really getting to channel those passionate creative energies we have, and don’t really know what to do with otherwise. I know a lot of women, especially, start businesses because they had that in them and they have no outlet for it at all.

Everybody has creativity. It’s not a trait that’s exclusive to entrepreneurs. But there are very different kinds of creativity, there are certain personality types that are more creative than others, and entrepreneurs tend to be the creative bunch. I think it actually works the opposite way around. The creativity turns us into entrepreneurs, due to the inability to find an outlet for that creative energy anywhere else. This inspires us to create our own businesses.

But it’s a double-edged blade, because for all the times you have that insane creative insight, when you have loads of energy, know exactly what you’re doing, can see each aspect of everything you want to do, and you’re just working and working…for every day like that, you have days when you just can’t get it at.

Your Light…

There’s a light in your head. Some days it’s on, some days it’s off.

When it’s on, it’s great.

When it’s off, you’re screwed.

The trouble with that creative spark is it’s really rebellious by nature. In a sense that’s a good thing, because that rebellion made you say, “Nope, no normal job for me. I’m going to start a business!”

On the other hand, however, it’s a total bitch, because there are days that light is not on and you can’t do anything. You sit and stare at your computer screen, nothing happens. You try to do all the things on your To Do list, and it takes you all day to just get one thing done. Either that, or nothing you try works and everything goes wrong.

Those days are really frustrating.

The thing you have to remember about the Rebellious Muse is that you owe her a lot. If it wasn’t for that creative spark, that creative flair, you wouldn’t have your business. You wouldn’t be the wondrous thing you are. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, or how you’re doing it, the way you are doing it is a way that nobody else could, and that’s because of your personal crazy ass creative spark.

It’s yours. It’s unique.

It’s the thing that makes you so much better at what you do than everybody else.

But the thing with gifts like that, is at some point, you have to pay the piper.

So, what are we actually meant to do about this? Just, not work on days when the lights off? That’s not going to help your business.

The way I look at it is that there are days when I can work on creative things, things that require that particular light, and there are days when, for whatever reason, I have to accept that light isn’t there.

It will come back at some point, but today it’s not there.

And while it’s gone, there is no point trying to do the things I can only do when I have that light.

For example, in my case, writing is where my creative energy is. If my creative energy is absent, for whatever reason, trying to write anything…anything at all…is just a No Go!

I just don’t do it.

There are three reasons for this…

Creative Talent…

You have talent. If you’re not really careful with it, you will burn it out completely. If you push it on days it doesn’t want to work, it’s saying, “Nope, it’s not happening today!” it will burn out.

And it will take you forever to get it back again.

On those days you just have to say, “Right, I just need a break.”

Take a step back and do something else. Otherwise you’ll lose your spark for a lot longer.

Quality Killer…

The quality of what you do on days when you’re trying to force it is not going to be good. It’s just not. In particular, if you’re doing something for a client and the work is for somebody else you are doing them a severe injustice.

You’re not going to give them your best, you’re not going to give them what they paid you for.

They paid you for your talent, and your talent is absent.

So Much Stress…

You are just going to stress yourself out so much. I’ve had days when my To Do list is a mile long, I have stacks of things I have to get done, and there’s just no way I can take the day off. I absolutely must get those things finished, I have to write.

I’ll sit there and force myself to write. And I will get words written, but I will know that they’re bad. It will take me so long, and I will have this anxiety in me that just builds and builds.

The more I try to force myself do it, the more I understand that what I’m doing isn’t even worth writing.

It’s substandard.

It’s crap.

So all I’m doing is stressing myself out, to the point that it’s even harder for me to write well, for the sake of producing something that isn’t good enough to use anyway.

And Finally…

Don’t resent the rebellion. Don’t resent the fact there are days when you can’t find your creative juices, because the days when you can make up for it tenfold. The fact you have that talent is a gift.

It is a huge gift.

And there’s this old saying about gift horses, and mouths, and not looking at them…

Don’t hate the Rebellious Muse, embrace her.

That rebellion, that difference, that creative spark which nobody else has is the thing that’s going to make your business soar. It’s going to make you successful, it’s going to make you happy, it’s going to give you a sense of fulfilment, it’s going to do all the things that you know a normal nine to five job can’t do.

Some days it’s not there.

That’s just the way it is.

Find something else to do on those days. Make sure you know what tasks you can do on days when your creativity is absent, when the lights not there. There has to be something else you can do. It might be doing cash flows, your budget, invoices, it might be a million different admin jobs, or it could be something totally different.

How about spending the time networking?

Or learning.

If you’ve got courses you’ve bought and never got around to doing.

On days when your own #mojo is gone, learn from somebody else’s!

Do you have a rebellious muse?

Or does yours actually do what you want her to, and turn up when you want her to? I’d love to know! Comment below, like, and share the video, and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven’t already!

Guest Post: Self-Care For The Female Entrepreneur by Sharon Chisholm

There are no limits to the ages of female entrepreneurs. From tweens to retirement age and above, women are breaking out of the realms of traditional employment and starting up their own businesses. The diversity of these businesses is staggering – from fashion to technology, neuroscience to cake decorating, from design to engineering and everything in between. According to Forbes.com, in the US, women will create over half of the 9.72 million new small business jobs expected to be created by 2018 and more and more will be doing this from home offices across the USA. But entrepreneurship is a stressful business, and many women are failing to practice the self-care necessary to manage their physical and mental health.

So why are more and more women starting home-based businesses? Well, for a number of reasons – many find themselves unable to find appropriate part-time work after they have had children or some do not see themselves as a good fit for “corporate” or “main stream” firms. On top of that, the creatives among us will dream of using our skills and abilities to share their gifts with the world. Then there are those of us who, like me, live with a mental illness and would find working outside the home challenging. Or it could be a combination of some, or all the above.

But ask the majority of them about their commitment to their own self-care and they will say that it is not a priority, that they don’t have time or will ask, “What’s that?”

The Self-Care Schedule

Self-care does not have to be extravagant, costly or take hours out of our week, it could be as simple and straightforward as treating ourselves to a long bath….. or a long bar of chocolate. It is as individual as we are.

So why is it so important?

Whenever we’ve been on an aeroplane, we listen to the airline staff giving the safety instructions. They tell us to fit our own air masks before that of another. Why? Because if we’re passed out in the aisle, it’s pretty hard for us to help anyone else. This isn’t just appropriate on a flight, but in our day-to-day lives.

If we are constantly doing and providing for others, making sure that everyone is looked after, tending to their needs and wants without tending to our own, we will very quickly run out of steam.

Just like we have to schedule client meetings and doctor’s appointments into our diaries, so must we with our self-care. If we don’t make commitments to look after and nurture ourselves, it just won’t happen.

So what could this look like?

Exercise

This word makes me shudder I’m afraid, but at 46 and increasingly losing flexibility and gaining aches and pains, it’s a word (and action) I need to incorporate into my day-to-day life. I love to walk…… okay, I don’t “love” it, but it’s the one exercise I can do that doesn’t fill me with dread and anxiety. I can put on my headphones, turn on some music, an audio book or a podcast and surround myself with nature and fresh air for half an hour. If I do it first thing in the morning, I often return with more energy and clarity for the day ahead.

If walking isn’t your thing, perhaps yoga, boxercise, martial arts or Netflix (okay, so the last one is not exercise, just checking you’re still paying attention).

Eating

I love food, all kinds of food – Mexican, pizza, pasta, cake, potatoes, salads, cake, fish, roast dinners, toast, cake. Cooking day after day (after day, ad infinitum) gets very tedious and I can quite happily live on toast for both breakfast and lunch. Whilst toast is utterly delicious, particularly smothered in butter and marmalade, it has the nutritional benefits of a piece of cardboard. By mid-morning I’m usually feeling sleepy and in need of more food – hardly the image of a dynamic entrepreneur is it?

So, much as I hate to say it, a balanced diet including plenty of vegetables, lean meat (if you’re not a veggie), protein, dairy, cake and very importantly, water, water, water.

Boundaries

How often do you check your emails before you even get out of bed, or as the last thing you do before you close your eyes at night? How often are you still working in the evenings, or during the weekends or whilst you eat your lunch? Do you plan holidays, even if it’s just a few days away from your business? Being passionate about what you do and committed to making it work is absolutely necessary to success, but not at the cost of your health.

Perhaps give yourself a cut-off time in the evenings at which point you will turn off your devices, or at least try it a couple of nights a week. Commit to having at least two weekends a month where you switch off from work. Book vacation time into your annual plan.

Sleep

Whether you’re an early bird or a night own, sleep is vital to our well-being. A lack of sleep can leave us feeling overly emotional, frustrated, short-tempered and de-motivated. A prolonged amount of sleep deprivation can lead to reduced cognitive abilities and memory and can sometimes, lead to anxiety and depression. Even if your reasons for lack of sleep are fun and enjoyable **winks** rather than stress or insomnia, an irregular sleep schedule can be extremely detrimental to your health.

Good habits are important to getting a good night’s sleep – a comfortable room temperature, comfortable mattress and pillows, minimal lighting, peace and quiet and ideally no devices.

Hobbies

So, with 2 kids, a business, a husband, a plethora of pets and a home to manage, my hobbies these days seem to involve binge watching shows on Netflix and having conversations with people on Facebonkers. Occasionally I might indulge myself in a horse ride, a few hours visiting some antique shops or a trip to the cinema, but not as often as I’d like.

Do you have interests or hobbies that you used to do regularly before you started your business? Do you rarely seem to have the time to even gather your thoughts these days?

Perhaps introduce some of your old hobbies back into your life, or find new ones that fit in around your life with your business.

Connection

Working for yourself, at home, alone, in your pyjamas, can be wonderful. It can also be extremely isolating. When we’ve had weeks of chatting to no-one but the kids or the cat, we can start to question our own abilities to interact with the outside world.

Perhaps look into some local networking events – some are more formal and “professional”, some are more like evenings out with friends. If going out early in the morning or during the working day is impossible or unappealing, perhaps join some online communities full of like-minded and positive peers. I have found some of these groups to be an incredible place to connect and collaborate.

Laughter

I like to laugh, a LOT. It is incredibly therapeutic, costs no money and can be done anywhere, at any time. Often we get so caught up in the “shoulds” and the “have to’s”, we forget to see the joy around us.

If funny cat videos are your thing, take ten minutes to have a giggle at some cute furries while you eat your lunch. If Monty Python is more your style, treat yourself to a movie night once a week, tucked up in your jimjams with some cake and/or wine. If Jackass is what makes you laugh……… then I have no words of advice.

 

I hope this advice has been useful, or at the very least made you think (or smile occasionally). Now I’m off to watch some Netflix **grabs cake**.

Book of the Week: Feminine Capital by Barbara Orser and Catherine Elliott

This week I’ve been reading yet another book on entrepreneurship! This one’s a little different from most and I’ve appreciated the change of pace. As a female entrepreneur with a background in gender research, Feminine Capital by Barbara Orser and Catherine Elliott has been on my To Read pile for a while. 

The Curse of the Cover Judgement

I’m not sure why it took me so long to get to it. Perhaps it was the rather harsh, corporate image on the cover. To my mind, the front clashed with the bright pink spine. The silhouette on the front is as masculine as a silhouette can be, while sporting a skirt suit with a fiercely fuchsia collar. I’ve spent too long studying gender and feminism not to recognise the hallmarks of a die-hard, man-hating feminist. I have nothing against hard-core feminists or man-haters, but I’m more of a feminista myself. I don’t need the hard sell where equality is concerned. I already know what I’m capable of. I also know this is not contingent upon the contents of my knickers.

It’s unfortunate the cover gave me such a negative impression of the book. It’s far from old school feminism, and I wish I’d read it sooner!

As an author, I’m well aware we judge books by their covers. This book really drove the point home. This is new wave feminism with facts.

Here Comes the Science Bit…

Case studies, statistics, detailed breakdowns of theories and how they’re reflected in practice. It bowled me over (in a good way). I absolutely loved this book. It’s in keeping with my view that women are not suffering in business due to gender, but thriving. The gender differences that once set us apart and made people assume we were less capable are the very things that are enabling us to approach entrepreneurship with a fresh attitude, a different view, and a unique set of skills. 

As Feminine Capital makes plain, there are over 200,000,000 female business owners world-wide, many of whom enjoy phenomenal success. Barbara Orser and Catherine Elliott have an academic approach to the topic that I greatly admire and often find lacking in this type of book If you’re looking for a woo woo book about embracing your inner goddess and listening to your spirit guides, this aint it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that form of female empowerment, none at all, but if you struggle with a more factual, research-based approach, fair warning, this may not be the book for you. 

I’m from a very academic background. I spent ten years at university. I like an academic, analytic approach. I like writers backing up their theories and suppositions with copious amounts of research. I truly appreciated the forty years of serious research that supports each and every word. 

Practical and Insightful

Feminine Capital is a wonderfully practical look at the ways in which women are doing business. Orser and Elliott’s insights into the manner in which gender influences decision-making in business is insightful and inspiring. Their findings confirm my own theory: women are wired differently. That difference allows us to excel in certain areas, leaving our male counterparts in the proverbial dust. The crafting of a distinctive brand is something many women do exceptionally well. Finally I have a better understanding of why that is. This book is a must-read for women in business – it tackles a lot of myths and misconceptions that undermine women. It also provides practical advise and examples of how to improve our skills and business ventures.

Highly recommended!

Feminine Capital: Unlocking the Power of Women Entrepreneurs Book Cover Feminine Capital: Unlocking the Power of Women Entrepreneurs
Barbara Orser and Catherine Elliott
Entrepreneurship
Stanford Business Books
March 25, 2015
Paperback
240

Today, there are over 200,000,000 women business owners around the world. Many of these entrepreneurs are not doing business as usual, nor are they simply leaning in. Rather, they are tapping into feminine capital—the unique skills and sensibilities that they have cultivated as women—to create enviable successes.

Drawing on four decades of award-winning research, Feminine Capital reveals how women are harnessing different approaches to doing business. Barbara Orser and Catherine Elliott detail the pillars of feminine capital and offer new insight into the ways that gender can influence entrepreneurial decision-making. They find that leveraging feminine capital can help women to create distinctive brands, build new markets, and drive profits—all while leveling the playing field in business. In doing so, women are changing our social and economic landscape, one venture at a time.

Dispelling myths and misperceptions that can undermine women-owned ventures, this book takes a fresh look at how female entrepreneurs can leverage their skills, knowledge, and values. Case studies of women entrepreneurs bring key concepts and lessons to life, while learning aids, diagnostic tools, and checklists help readers to construct innovative business models, refine start-up plans, and hone growth strategies.

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