By Angela Proffitt
Women often believe that they’re at a disadvantage as entrepreneurs.
After launching my own business, I had to make a presentation in front of music executives from a major label. Within minutes it became apparent that I was fighting a losing battle, and I wasn’t being taken seriously.
To them, I fit a stereotype of a female entrepreneur. But I still had my enthusiasm, my dignity, and my respect. In that moment, I couldn’t control what they thought about me, but I knew I still had options.
There are only stereotypes in business if you allow them to exist.
I’m not saying you won’t be challenged and you won’t have obstacles. But don’t let others put you in a box. Leverage your talents and take control over what you can change.
Here’s how you can empower yourself:
Pay close attention to your language, especially when you use words such as, “but,” “just,” “if,” “maybe,” or “should.” Listen to how you sound, and look at how you use those words, because you could be undermining yourself without realizing it. When you’re confident in how you speak, you can let your guard down, build authentic relationships, and stop second-guessing yourself.
Say no without feeling guilty.
Most people struggle with this whether they’re entrepreneurs or not. I find inspiration from my mentors, and I nurture my mind with positive influences who challenge the decisions I make. I also like to make notes on my mirror every morning and ask, “What are my priorities for the day? If I need to make X amount of money in X amount of hours, how will I make that happen?” The more successful you become, the more you’ll get pulled in different directions. Additionally, allow your right hand to do his or her job. You hire assistants to help manage your schedule, so let them help you say no. You can always make more money, but you can never buy back your time.
Seek opportunities in your mistakes.
Your mistakes are unpleasant learning experiences. How they make you feel will likely last longer than the result, but don’t let a temporary circumstance define you. Although you didn’t achieve your desired outcome, don’t deny yourself future opportunities because you can still change what you do going forward. It’s easy for people to respect your strengths, but they will relate to your weaknesses.
After my presentation, I actually left feeling pretty good about myself, despite their preconceived notions. I saw a challenge to take on, and I knew I wasn’t going to fit in the proverbial box they tried to place me. In the end, I won our clients over through my confidence and managed to change the conversation.