Starting a business, and growing a business, are two very different things (am I right?). Starting a business requires a leap of faith and a steadfast belief in your product/service – it’s about deciding to go “all in” on your passion and hustling hard to get your idea off the ground. Growing a business, however, requires an entirely different set of skills. Because in order to “scale” your biz baby, you need to delegate tasks and hire a team – which is something that many women entrepreneurs struggle with. Women are almost half as likely as men to have a business partner (we’re talkin’ only 12.4% of women, compared to a whopping 22.9% of men). Women also make up 82.5% of “lone entrepreneurs” compared to 69.8% of men. So, why the discrepancy? It comes down to mindset (isn’t that always the case?!?). But hey, not to worry – mindset can be managed. Let’s talk about the top 3 mindset shifts women can make in order to start building strong teams and step into the role of CEO.
Developing an entrepreneur mindset for stronger teams
Just want the SparkNotes? Here’s how I suggest female entrepreneurs shift their mindsets to make room for awesome team leadership:
Alt: How female entrepreneurs can shift their mindset to develop stronger teams
Now, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty.
1. Fear of Failure
Alt: How female entrepreneurs can shift their mindset from the fear of failure
Entrepreneurs are some of the grittiest folks on the planet…because they’re willing to endure the “losses” on the way to the “wins.” They see failure as feedback. And they learn to trust the process.
But the funny this….as soon as “other people” enter the picture…the fear of failure tends to intensify. Hiring a team means that people are suddenly RELYING on you. And that can be a scary thing. Because at the heart of it, we all have “people-pleaser” tendencies….but for women, that nasty little habit tends to run deep. The social pressure to be “everything to everyone” is real – in fact, women are often socialized from a young age to prioritize the needs and wants of others. Failure means letting other people down (and that’s hard to stomach).
This same fear of failure can also fuel a deep sense of self-doubt and uncertainty – and THAT can make it difficult for women entrepreneurs to make bold investments in their businesses. Studies have shown that women entrepreneurs ask for less financing than men do, averaging at $89,000 in debt financing, compared to the $124,500 that men request – a roughly $35,000 gap. Hiring a team requires capital. And if women are typically “underfunded,” they won’t be able to support their delegation dreams.
Research has also shown that women entrepreneurs are more risk-averse than men – which goes back to socialization (again!). You can see this in action if you’ve ever been to a playground and watched the children playing – you might notice that the boys are generally more adventurous…..climbing the trees and swinging wildly on the monkey bars…..while the girls tend to be more tentative. Bringing on a team of “employees” can feel like a big risk….and women may feel hesitant to go “all in” on such an endeavor.
Mindset-shifting strategies for overcoming the fear of failure
OK, so how do women start conquering their deeply ingrained “fear of failure” and start welcoming new teammates to the table?
First things first – it’s important for women entrepreneurs to acknowledge and confront their negative self-talk. Failure is an inevitable part of the entrepreneurial journey….and it can actually be a very valuable learning opportunity.
Next, It’s important for women to trust their intuition and listen to their bodies when making decisions (this is our super-power, after all!). Our bodies often send us subtle signals that we may ignore when we’re hyper-focused on the jibber-jabber in our minds. By paying attention to these signals, we can gain a deeper understanding of our emotions and make decisions that actually align with our values and goals.
Lastly, women entrepreneurs can benefit from getting crystal clear on their finances and developing a solid financial plan. How much will it cost to hire a team? And how can you help new team members “pay for themselves?” This kind of “fact-finding” can help alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty around investing in business growth. By setting clear financial goals and tracking progress, women entrepreneurs can build hella confidence in their ability to make strategic investments in their businesses.
Perfectionism can be another major obstacle for women when it comes to building a team to support their business. Many women have an innate desire to do EVERYTHING perfectly, and this can spell DISASTER when trying to delegate tasks or bring on team members.
Many women entrepreneurs struggle with the belief: “I am the only one who can do this” (especially in the early stages of building a business). Buuuuut, this kind of thinking can be extremely limiting! – by believing that they are the only ones who can do certain tasks, women may be missing out on opportunities to bring on team members with different skill sets and perspectives that could HELP take their business to the next level.
Many women also hold onto the belief that “it’s just easier for me to keep doing it.” – and while this may be true in the short term….in the long run, it can actually lead to burnout and a lack of scalability. Women are actually MORE likely to experience burnout than men, especially when they run their own businesses. By taking on too much themselves, women entrepreneurs may be limiting their ability to grow and expand their businesses.
Lack of trust in others can also be a BIG BARRIER when it comes to building a team. This can be tied to a desire for control….which, in essence, is a misuse of feminine energy. Women who struggle with this may feel like they need to have complete control over every aspect of their business, and may be hesitant to delegate tasks or bring on team members….. because they’re worried about losing that control. This, of course, can (once again) LIMIT potential. Big time.
Mindset-shifting strategies for overcoming perfectionism
Overcoming perfectionism is CRUCIAL for women entrepreneurs who want to build strong teams and grow their businesses. But howwwww?!? Let’s talk about a few strategies.
Firstly, it’s important to practice self-compassion. Perfectionists tend to be hard on themselves….and this perfectionism can be counterproductive. Instead of beating yourself up for not being perfect, try practicing self-compassion. Recognize that you are only human and that making mistakes is part of the game!
Next? Surround yourself with the right people. Yep! Building a strong team requires trust and collaboration….so go ahead! – surround yourself with people who share your vision/values, AND bring different strengths and perspectives to the table. Use personality assessments and/or human design to make your hiring decisions. That way, you can drop the micro-managing and trust in the alignment of your team!
Lastly, it’s all about focus (haven’t you heard?!? – what you focus on, expands). Focus on progress, not perfection…and embrace the journey. Are you “failing,” or are you “learning?” Celebrate your successes, learn from your failures, and keep moving forward.
3. Stress of leadership
As a woman entrepreneur, the stress of leadership can be overwhelming. When you first start out, you’re “doing it all” – sales, marketing, finances, AND coaching. And as much as you’d love the extra “help,”…..it feels like a lot of work to hire, train and manage other people. Being a CEO requires a significant identity shift from being an individual contributor to becoming a CEO – and THAT can feel stressful.
Is this shift more difficult for women than men? Traditional views of “femininity” emphasize nurturing, collaboration, and empathy. And while many women are (more than) capable of being assertive, making decisions, and taking risks as leaders…..they very likely feel the residue of societal beliefs pushing against them. The result? Self-doubt and imposter syndrome often rear their ugly heads.
As a leader, YOU are responsible for the success of your team and your business. You may feel pressure to make the right decisions, manage your team effectively, and ensure that your business is hittin’ the profit margins. It’s “a lot.” And this pressure can lead to stress, anxiety, and burnout.
Mindset-shifting strategies for overcoming the stress of leadership
Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to overcome the stress of leadership and thrive in your role as CEO! Here are a few ideas….
Prioritize self-care! – it’s essential to take care of yourself, physically and mentally. That means getting enough sleep, finding time to exercise, and drinking your water (come onnnn…..be one of those people who guzzles a 3L jug of water!). It also means taking breaks when you need them and finding ways to manage stress, like meditation or a lunchtime yoga class.
It’s also important to find communication tools that work for you. Communication is KEY when leading a team….so make sure you arm yourself with things like Slack and/or Asana. These tools can streamline communication and keep everyone on the same page.
Also — don’t forget to create an SOP or operations manual. This can help you move beyond just “getting things done” and really step into leading the culture and innovation of your expert team. Bonus – ensure consistency and quality control!
7 Strategies Successful Entrepreneurs Use to Stay Motivated(Opens in a new browser tab)
Connecting your mindset to business success
The verdict is in – the challenges women entrepreneurs face when building strong teams comes down to MINDSET – fear of failure, self-doubt, and perfectionism can very quickly hold women back from delegating tasks and hiring a team.
And let’s be real. When it comes to growing and scaling a business, there ain’t no “gettin’ to the top” by yourself.
But wait! – by empowering women to overcome mindset issues, we can create a more inclusive, diverse, and resilient business landscape!
Let’s keep encouraging women entrepreneurs to step into the role of CEO (and BE the example) – so that women around the world can start taking their businesses to the next level!
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