Whether you work for someone else or for yourself, being a woman in business is hard. It’s demanding of your time, energy and emotions. Plus work and home are in constant battle for who gets more of your attention on any given week.
I’ve spent a lot of the past year talking to, spending time with and reading books & articles about some highly successful women in business. I guess you could say I’ve been a little obsessed with the topic.
I even wrote about this in one of my recent newsletters which I titled ‘What Does She Have That I Don’t?‘ and received some amazing responses from some of you. Responses like ‘you are so right!‘ and ‘why don’t I value myself more?‘ and ‘I’m so ready to start taking myself seriously.‘
Here’s a snippet from that newsletter:
Do you ever find yourself asking the question ‘What does she have that I don’t?‘ Maybe you’ve thought that about a co-worker who received a promotion you really wanted. Or about that friend who seems to succeed at everything. Or that neighbor who has it all together, down to the perfect Christmas light display. (Spoiler alert: she doesn’t have it all together.)If you’ve thought this to yourself or even said it out loud, you’re not alone; because I’m right there with you. That ‘grass is greener in her yard‘ syndrome is real and for years I’ve thought women who succeeded in life had some secret formula or inner circle I didn’t know about. Surely their successes were because they knew someone who knew someone, right? They must have more of something that I needed!But I’ve finally figured out what it is that some women have that I was missing and maybe you are too.Are you ready for this earth-shattering life-changing piece of information?They VALUE themselves.They value their work.They value who they are.They value where they were.They value how far they’ve come.They say ‘This is how much I’m worth. No less.’
5 Habits of Highly Successful Women in Business
They Set Their Week Up for Success
Successful women in business know what happens if they don’t sit down with their schedule at the beginning of the week. Important things fall through the cracks, and when important things fall through the cracks, the whole week can feel off. The next thing you know, it’s Friday and your week wasn’t nearly as productive as it could have been.
Now obviously, life happens and unexpected things come up. We’re always going to have weeks that don’t feel very productive and that’s okay, we have to learn how to bounce back from that. But spending a few minutes on a Sunday night to look over your schedule can have a huge impact on your productivity.
If you’re a digital person, here are some tools you’ll find useful:
Google calendar: Organize your schedule and sync it with all of your devices to always have it on hand.
GetPlan: Intelligently plan and organize projects and tasks from all of the tools you and your team use such as a calendar, email and more. It gives you one command center for all of your tools.
Trello: A way to organize your tasks and work projects in a visually appealing way. It helps you and your team stay organized. It’s free.
Todoist: A digital to-do list to help you get things done; free to get started or $28.99 annual fee for a premium account
I’ve tried to go digital, but have found out over the years I do best writing things down. I like to see it on paper and write it down on paper, so instead of fighting that fight, I’m working with it. I’ve written a post about some of the best planners that you might want to check out here.
The system I use to keep myself organized is a paper planner and a spiral notebook. That might seem a little excessive to some, but it’s what works best for me. My absolute favorite planner that has everything I need, is The Living Well Planner.
I can plan my meals, my monthly and daily schedule + my goals for the month – all from this planner. What I love is it’s not just a planner, it’s a place to collect my thoughts, a place to design the life I want to lead, a place to lay out my dreams. Oh, and it has pretty stickers. I do love me some stickers!
When you purchase a Living Well Planner, you get access to Crushing It Central, which is “the place where you will put your planner into action, the place where you will get your life in order, take back your time, learn how to CRUSH your goals, finally get organized, and discover a whole lot more balance for your life.” Yep, it’s awesome.
I also use a 3 subject spiral notebook to jot down what I call my running to-do list, as well as my brainstorming ideas and note taking.
Running to-do list: I have a running to-do list for home and business. It’s those to-dos that I want to eventually get to, but that aren’t urgent. When I have a few minutes, I’ll look at that list to see if there are any items I can check off.
Brainstorming: As a business owner, mom and well, woman – my head is constantly going. This used to keep me up at night, but I believe this one trick has helped me sleep so much better.
I have an entire section in my spiral notebook dedicated to brainstorming ideas. If an idea pops into my head, I write it down. Most of these ideas only make sense to me and that’s okay. If someone else tried to read it, it might look like elvish to them. Having these ideas out of my head and onto paper helps me a) sleep better and b) gives me a catalog of ideas to revisit. Surely there’s a million dollar idea in there somewhere, right?
Notes: I take a lot of online courses, both free and ones I pay for. I believe that investing in myself and my business is crucial (which leads us into habit number 2). Just like with brainstorming, having one place for my notes makes it easy for me to revisit them later.
They Invest In Themselves & Their Business
Successful women in business know that in order to grow personally and professionally, it takes investing in themselves to do so. It might be business and self-help books they purchase and devour or courses they buy, or a weekend retreat they attend with other successful men and women. Whatever it is, they value themselves enough to break out their wallets and invest in their mind, body, and soul.
This was a concept that took me awhile to fully grasp and accept. I hated reading self-help books. I really hated reading business books. Taking any of the money I was earning blogging and purchasing a course with it seemed impossible to me, because once upon a time, we were barely making ends meet. But in 2014 I received a sales email that changed my life. It literally changed.my.life. and my family’s. You can read about the course I invested in here, plus blogging resources I recommend investing in here.
Here are a few books I recommend reading:
- The Magic of Thinking Big
- Good to Great
- The Power of Habit
- Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers
They Surround Themselves with The Right People
Successful women in business know they need to surround themselves with life-giving people, not life-sucking people.
- Life-giving people fill you with truth, telling you what you need to hear but they back it up with encouragement. Life-sucking people tell you what they think is the truth, as long as it makes them feel better about themselves.
- Life-giving people call to check up on you, making sure you’re doing okay. Life-sucking people call to tell you about their problems and want you to fix them.
- Life-giving people know that a relationship is a two-way street. Life-sucking people ask you to join them on their one-way relationship street and get offended when you try to turn around and go the other way.
- Life-giving people understand that you need all kinds of people in your life and are happy to see you spend time with others. Life-sucking people are filled with jealousy and take it out on you.
- Life-giving people cheer you on in your success. Life-sucking people try to make you feel guilty about it.
I’m not going to pretend that letting go of toxic relationships is easy. It’s not. Especially if those relationships are tied to a community you’re involved in, like a church, your kids’ school or a volunteer program. But those relationships are a slow poison that attacks small parts of you without you realizing it.
Here are a few good articles on letting go of friendships and family: 7 Strategies for Dealing with Toxic People from Zen Habits | How to Set Better Boundaries with Your Friends from Living Well Spending Less | Why You Should Surround Yourself with Good People from Huffington Post
They Learn How to Say No
Successful women in business know how to say no and they know it’s okay to say no. If you have a hard time saying no, well, welcome to being a woman. I have yet to have a conversation with a woman who has said ‘I’ve never had a hard time saying no! In fact, I love saying it!‘ The conversation has always been that they’ve had to learn to say no and learn to be okay with saying no.
I’ll never forget when I was a first-time elementary school mom. I walked in the doors, saw all of the sign-up sheets and then it’s like I felt laser beams focused on my head. I looked up and there was another mom sweetly smiling at me from across the room with a twinkle in her eye. I had FIRST TIME ELEMENTARY SCHOOL MOM. PLEASE SIGN ME UP FOR EVERYTHING written all over me. And she knew it. And I did sign up for a lot of things. I quickly learned that leading things was not my thing, but that being in a support role was. So I had to learn to say NO.
It’s the same for a woman in business. We have to learn to say no. Unfortunately, as a woman working for someone else, sometimes you can’t or sometimes you have to decide if saying no will cost you your job. I get that and I don’t envy you being in that position.
As a woman working for yourself, we have to decide if saying no will keep us from making more money, or becoming more successful, or landing a great partnership.
But I think more than worrying about saying no, women in business know that sometimes saying no to something is because they are putting their well-being first.
They say NO because they KNOW stable success does not come without a healthy mind, body. and soul.
They Focus on Their Strengths
Successful women in business know what their strengths are and they focus on those, work with their strengths and continually invest in growing them. They then turn around and hire people to take on the tasks they consider to be their weaknesses.
What are you great at? What do you love to do?
What are you not good at? What do you despise doing?
These are questions we should ask ourselves as we start making money in our businesses.
For example, I love to write. My husband and I often sit and talk about our dream life in five years, and part of that is living in a dream destination and just writing. (I have yet to figure out if that’s at the beach or in the mountains. I think I need both.) I wouldn’t say that I am a great writer. I have serious grammar issues, my vocabulary is lacking but still, I love to write. That’s a craft I can work on and continually improve on. It’s a strength.
A weakness of mine is dealing with technical issues. But up until the last year, I’ve always figured them out on my own. There have been times when there was an issue with my website that I have literally spent an entire day figuring out how to fix it. Do you know what I could have done instead? I could have hopped on Fiverr and paid someone $5 to $15 to fix it for me, while I continued to do what I do best.
Spend some time writing down what your strengths and weaknesses are and then decide what you can hire out. Imagine spending your days focused on what you love to do and what you’re good at. Both business and personal growth are right at your fingertips!
If you feel like you are missing something or are right on the brink of success but something keeps getting in your way, take some time to really think about these five habits of successful women in business.
Are you starting your week off in an utter state of chaos? Do one thing this week to set yourself up for success. Download an app or go purchase a notebook to start getting some things out of your head organized. (Your brain will thank you.)
Are you having a hard time letting go of money to invest in yourself and your business? Purchase one book this week and start reading it.
Are you surrounding yourself with people who drain you so much you have nothing to give to yourself or to your business? Reach out to someone you’ve been wanting to spend time with and set a coffee date on your calendar. Email a fellow woman in business and ask if she’d like to be an accountability partner.
Are you having a hard time saying no? Look over your schedule or think about what fills your week. If there’s something you absolutely dread every week that you know you need to let go of, do it. Rip it off like a band-aid and then rejoice in the freedom it gives you and the space it creates.
Are you focusing on your strengths? What do you love to do more than anything else? Figure out how to free up some time in your schedule to do more of that. It just might 10x your success in business. Imagine how that would change your life!