/Women In Business

Five Steps To Becoming An Empowered Woman (Or Man) Business Owner

As a woman business owner, I’ve found that empowerment comes to us in two ways:

1. Access to external sources of inspiration and knowledge

2. Self-respect and self-confidence

You can sit around and wait for someone to empower you, or you can take the bull by the horns and take action to empower yourself. I will always vote for the latter of the two because it gives you more control over your entrepreneurial destiny.

Although women own nearly 30 percent of U.S. small businesses (according to the Status of Women in the United States website), I find that many of us still struggle with accepting it’s OK to seek empowerment on our own. We often think of it as something that is handed to us. That doesn’t seem very empowering to me!

So, what can women entrepreneurs (and men, too) do to boost our level of empowerment and reach our personal and professional potential?

1. Recognize what knowledge and skills you lack, and find tools and resources to increase your proficiency.

This requires a commitment to honestly assessing your strengths and weaknesses. After you’ve done that, actively seek blogs, books, webinars, podcasts, conferences, mentors, and other resources that will help you get up to speed.

2. Align yourself with positive people (professionally and personally).

I cannot emphasize enough how much this affects morale and motivation. Chronically negative people drain your energy and enthusiasm. When they direct their skepticism and sarcasm at you and your endeavors, they deplete your self-confidence and leave you feeling defeated. As much as possible, minimize your exposure to them so you can fill your life with people who truly care about you and who will encourage rather than discourage you.

3. When you meet people who exude empowerment, ask them if they’ll share their insight about attaining that level of confidence.

I’ve found most people who have an empowered aura about them are immensely gracious and open to sharing about how they’ve helped themselves. I encourage you to reach out to them for inspiration. Even though their approach may not work with precision for you, you will no doubt take away some valuable ideas to apply in your own quest for empowerment.

4. Start the day on a note of gratitude.

I make it a point to devote a few minutes every day to consciously thinking about everything I have to be thankful for. What better way to get a positive start? It immediately puts me in the right frame of mind for dealing with whatever work and life will bring my way. This is so simple to do. I dare you to find an excuse as to why you can’t try this!

5. Acknowledge that mistakes and setbacks happen.

Because they will. The good news is they won’t make you a failure unless you dwell on them. Get beyond goofs and misfortunes by treating them as lessons learned and by remaining agile so you can shift gears and move in a new positive and productive direction.

6.  Don’t be afraid to say “no” or voice your position. 

If people ask too much of you, learn to say “no.” Overextending yourself will create excess stress and pull you away from what really matters. Also, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion when you disagree adamantly about something. Although initially you might meet criticism, in the long run you’ll gain more respect. Most importantly, you’ll respect yourself—and that is mission critical for feeling empowered.

Empowerment Begins With Embracing Its Power

Whether you’re a female or male entrepreneur and regardless of whether you’re just starting a business or have been running your company for years, empowerment wields great power. I urge you to embrace its potential to help you mold your vision and achieve your goals and dreams.

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Working with your Spouse – 5 Tips to Ensure Success

There are only a few things more rewarding than working with your spouse.  However, starting a business with your life partner while remaining happy and fulfilled can be challenging.

I’ve worked very closely with my husband for over 24 years.  Here are 5 simple tips that can help you strike the right balance and succeed as both marital and business partners.

  1. Respect each other no matter what: We don’t always see eye to eye, but we always respect each other. It’s important for us both to recognize that we each bring our own unique skills, talents and strengths to the business… and to the marriage. to be clear, I do voice my own opinion; no one can ever mistake me for a pushover.  But, I also recognize that there are times when I need to trust in my partner’s discretion and judgment.
  1. Put my ego aside: Whether you’re at home or in the office, it is critical to put your ego aside and do whatever is best for the situation. No good has ever come when I let my pride rear its ugly head during a discussion with someone I love and respect.
  1. Leave business at the office; never discuss work at home:  At times, we have broken this rule.  Every time, without fail, we find our selves in an argument that could have easily been avoided had we merely waited to discuss the issue during office hours.  This simple rule helps us stay healthy and balanced both as individuals and as a couple.  Plus, the children really deserve our undivided attention when we are at home…and even “thinking” about work can be a big distraction from what should be the most rewarding part of our lives …family time.
  1. Stay unified: Whether we are with the children, our family members, or the office staff, we ALWAYS maintain a unified front…regardless of whether we actually agree or not.  Thus, it’s critical to meet regularly and ensure we are rowing the boat in the same direction and in unison.  Two is stronger than one!
  1. Prioritize date night: Date night must always be a priority.  Although we do sometimes discuss work during date night, we confine any business-related discussions to “positive” or “creative” issues at work.  We NEVER discuss money, finances, or each other’s mistakes during date night.

Starting and running a business together is not for every couple. However, if you and your partner can observe a few simple boundaries, you’ll find that running a business with your spouse will greatly draw you closer together and keep you growing in the same direction.  Plus, we ALWAYS have something to talk about.

Love makes everything possible. We have been on this exciting entrepreneurial roller coaster for the past two decades and I can’t wait to see what the next twenty years have in store for us.  I wish you the same or greater success in all of your relationships and business ventures.

Original content by Nellie Akalp on Huffington Post