Hello SOTGC community,
After twelve years of a corporate banking career, I know all too well what it’s like to thrive in a male-dominated environment. Men and women respond differently in competitive environments. Men are aggressive, especially when challenged by another individual. Research has shown that there are gender differences in the way competitive attitudes are displayed. In head-to-head competition men beat their female opponents more than 72 percent of the time.
There is change on the horizon. In the article, The Important Role of Female Small-Business Owners, Beth Solomon and Diane Tomb discuss how the glass ceilings are breaking. It is a fairly new situation, but men and women are being considered equally competent to compete against each other with no special considerations. Women are starting their own businesses at 1.5 times the national average. This means that men are seeing female entrepreneurs as their competitor more and more.
Men vs. Women in Business
Women can’t allow imaginary lines to determine how far they will go in their careers. Men view themselves as “work-centered.” Women desire the professional opportunities but not a life dominated by work. To be competitive, women don’t have to give up who they are and start acting like men, but they do have to change their approach and think like men. When I was in the corporate world, I went out of my way to maintain my femininity. I also went out of my way to prove I was as tough as the next guy. “Actions really do speak louder than words; or in this case, than heels.”
How can women create a competitive edge?
1. Use your natural gifts
Women are strategic multitaskers, much more focused and patient with details. Women are not easily distracted and don’t allow their ego to get in the way of what needs to be accomplished. Women naturally cultivate relationships, which is much needed to humanize a business. Know your strengths, constantly develop them, and allow your inner gut to guide you.
2. Be what the customer needs
Play the small team willing to help. Today, customers seek out businesses with management who are passionate about what they do. While you’re supplying what the customers need today, pay attention to what customers will want tomorrow. To stay in the business game you must be consistently filling a demand.
3. Catch one big fish
Testimonials can make a huge impact with potential customers. Put in the extra time and effort to capture at least one high-profile customer and then use that credibility to your advantage. When potential customers see the testimonial, it will help build instant trust and rapport.
4. Hang with the boys
There’s a lot of truth to the saying: “Act like a lady, think like a boss.” Although women have come a long way (and can easily stand on their own) being competitive comes naturally for men. The better prepared you are in business, the fewer mistakes you will make along the way. Ask any man what’s his most precious business asset and most, if not all, will say his network. Associate with men within and outside your industry. Develop a network of “winner” professional men who can help you grow some business balls and start thinking like a boss.
5. Make strategy an ongoing process
Regular communication about business priorities and strategies is crucial to your professional growth. Establish your aspirations for your business and come up with concrete goals to measure your progress. Stay on top of the path your industry is going. Have a detailed and focused plan to grow your business, but create different scenarios of how to accomplish your plan. You never know what’s waiting around the corner. Keep the blinders off so that you will always be ready.
In preparing for success, the best question to ask yourself, continually, is: “What can I do, that if done well, will make a difference?” Your ability to appraise yourself and identify areas that are holding you back is critical to your competitive edge and ultimate success. What strategies do you use to stay competitive?
Do you think women need to have a strategic (gender) plan to be successful in business? If so, please find me on Twitter, I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback. https://twitter.com/Beverly_Davis