I have been advising and working with female entrepreneurs for over 15 years through my branding business, and there are three major obstacles that I see time and time again that hold us back… mainly because, well, we’re women. And by this I mean to say, WE as women are holding ourselves back. Here’s how to mentally overcome gender-inspired blocks you may not even be aware you had.
We want to please everybody.
We grow up as a “good girl,” the “hostess with the mostest,” “the cool mom,” “the mother hen.” We believe in bringing everyone together, finding common ground, and making sure everyone is healthy and happy. Of course, this quality is incredible and we are amazing! But here’s why it doesn’t work when it comes to your personal or business brand: not everyone is going to be your customer. And that’s ok. When you think about it, you’re diluting your voice and your value if you’re downplaying that to please everyone out there. Focus on the people who are part of your tribe; don’t waste time trying to convince the outliers. You don’t want to risk taking attention away from the people who can and WANT to benefit from what you have to offer. (But keep it positive! You never need to exclude or insult others to bring your real tribe together.)
We feel uncomfortable with “showing off.”
We also grew up learning that it’s best to go with the flow, not make a lot of noise, not rock the boat too much. “Standing out” was often interpreted as “showing off.” And as young girls and women, we saw the consequences: quickly becoming outcasted from the group. This is so embedded in our psyches that it is a really difficult mindset to shift. So here’s what I do with my clients: we take a step back and define WHY they’re doing what they’re doing, why they’re in business in the first place. And every time, it comes down to a particular VALUE they are providing their customers – and the world. If you can make it about who you’re helping, it’s no longer about you; you don’t need to “feel bad” about putting yourself out there anymore. In fact, it almost becomes your duty to give back what only you have to uniquely offer. It becomes all about purpose, not promotion.
We are natural multi-taskers.
Men are typically not multi-taskers (but we love them for it, bless their hearts). This tendency probably stems back to the hunter-gatherer days when men really did need to focus on finding food for survival, and we women took care of (literally) everything else. Still resonates today — but now we pile it on ourselves, we own it, are proud of it, and promote that pride often. “I’m so busy!” — we’ve all heard it and have said it. But how it can hurt when it comes to social media: we are doing so much all the time and want to share all of it that our content becomes scattered and unfocused. (I am a repeat offender on this one.) You’ll notice that the major influencers out there who are laser focused on their particular field of expertise find the most loyal audience, and have the highest engagement, i.e. likes and comments. So when it comes to social media, be more like a man with a one-track mind.
It’s a fabulous time to be a woman, especially a woman in business. Once we can hone in on the value our brand is providing, we can build up our tribe not for our sake, but for everyone’s. And that spirit of empowerment and togetherness is what makes women, women. (Or what makes women ROCK.)