When you’re just getting started as an entrepreneur, you’re expected to wear a lot of hats. You’re a programmer and a designer. A financial planner and an accountant. A CEO, CMO, CFO … and everything in between.
The problem is, too many entrepreneurs — women in particular — never shed those hats. In fact, the majority of women-owned businesses are solopreneurs. They feel obligated to manage everything on their own instead of building a business beyond themselves. Social stigmas around “doing it all” often prevent women from admitting what they aren’t great at, and hiring employees to fill those gaps. This hindrance results in a problematic revenue plateau — only 13% of women-owned businesses generate annual revenues over $100,000.
Here’s the big secret. If you’re not willing to get clear on who you are, how you’re wired, where you shine (and where you don’t), you’re missing out on key insights that can keep you from becoming a strong leader and from growing your business.
Think about it this way: In college, you likely took accounting, economics or marketing — classes that helped you hone the “hard” skills needed to run a business. But, what about things like self-awareness or personal goal management? Likely not in your course offering, even though this type of added education is what helps you determine your leadership style and ideal team dynamic. Only once you have a strong grasp on both those “hard” and “soft” skills can you be a better CEO.
At Hello Fearless, an online school for female entrepreneurs, we teach these skills first. Sure, we think the “hard skills” are crucial to running a business. But, we’re also big believers that understanding the things that make you, you — your innate strengths, weaknesses, fears and motivations — are core to being an even better business owner. If you can remain focused on what you do best, and hire people who compliment your personal style to fill in any skills gaps, you can reach maximum potential.
Let’s look at a few ideas in action:
Get in the zone. Everyone has a unique “zone of genius” where you truly excel, where your passion and strengths meet what the world (and your business) needs from you. When you’re in your zone of genius, you’re on fire. You wake up every day loving life, excited to do your job – not bogged down by tasks and responsibilities that don’t come naturally to you. When you love what you’re doing, you’re more likely to succeed.
Add value. Think of the things you bring to the table, regardless of whether or not you’re paid to do them. Maybe you’re a connector. Maybe you’re incredibly organized. Maybe your favorite thing to do is get people to fall in love with an idea. These kinds of skills aren’t necessarily taught in college or listed in a job description, but they’re hugely valuable if you recognize that you have them. Wherever you add value is where you should focus your energy.
See your blind spots. I thrive on innovation and seeing the bigger picture, not so much getting bogged down in the day-to-day details or operational side of the business. Knowing that, I intentionally seek out team members and partners whose strengths and skills complement my own. That understanding and acceptance of each other’s blind spots positions us all to be better leaders, both individually and as a team.
It’s unrealistic to assume that every CEO is good at everything. So why keep pretending like we have all of the answers? Only when you take a step back to evaluate and understand your personality, skill set and leadership style can you truly succeed — as both a CEO and an individual.
Sara Davidson is founder and CEO of Hello Fearless, the school for female entrepreneurs. She teaches women how to build highly impactful and profitable businesses that meet both their personal and professional aspirations.
SmartBrief is featuring an occasional series highlighting small-business owners, and we offer free e-mail newsletters on small business and entrepreneurialism. Sign up today.