by Ruth Saunders
Being an entrepreneur can be all-consuming – there are so many sacrifices you have to make along the way, but your mental health shouldn’t be one of them.
We co-wrote ‘Female Entrepreneurs – The Secrets of Their Success’ to help every woman who wants to set up their own entrepreneurial business to enjoy the journey. We spoke to 52 women over two years about how they made it work, found some semblance of balance and just managed to move past the guilt of missing out on time with friends and family… all for the sake of the business.
Here are some of their insights:
Separate yourself from the business
Some of our interviewees fully identified with their businesses, but others separated their identities from their enterprise to help them make better commercial decisions. There’s no right way, just your way; it’s a personal choice, but we spoke to women who made a conscious choice to leave business at the door each day to focus on a more well-rounded life.
The value of a supportive partner
Both Warren Buffett and Sheryl Sandberg agree that the most important career choice you’ll ever make is whether you have a life partner and, if so, who that person is. This was a constant theme in our interviews. A supportive home partner can act as critic and cheerleader, challenging you to think differently and nudging you to make things happen; they can also help to assume the responsibilities of family care.
The value of a supportive network
People who you can bounce things off or will pick you up and encourage you when you need support are vital, whether it’s family – a great source of honesty as they know you better than most and will speak their minds –friends, teammates, or even pets to accompany you on a mind-clearing walk!
Handling guilt over children
Our book is packed with examples of women managing to look after both their family and business with grace, humility, hidden energy reserves and the ability to deflect exhaustion. Many felt guilt at being absent from their young children, but our advice is to not be too hard on yourself: it will get easier as the children grow into teenagers and look to you as a role model, gaining understanding about the need for hard work and determination to achieve success.
Keeping the plates spinning
Many of our female entrepreneurs were running a start-up, raising a family and, in some cases, managing pro bono work or day jobs too. Their secret? Create a schedule and support structure that works, and don’t be afraid to plan, prioritise and ruthlessly focus on what matters most.
Be proud of your achievements
Our culture disincentivises women from expressing confidence and pride in themselves. Reshma Saujani’s book ‘Brave Not Perfect’ talks about how women, unlike men, are brought up to be ‘perfect rather than brave’. She exhorts women to fear less, fail more and live bolder. This attitude is slowly changing, and we encourage women entrepreneurs to be a part of that change by being proud and celebrating their achievements not only with friends and family but with business networks and awards panels.
Ruth Saunders and John Smythe are entrepreneurs and co-authors of ‘Female Entrepreneurs – The Secrets of their Success’ written to inspire and encourage any woman who wants to take the entrepreneurial leap.
Ruth is an entrepreneur, brand consultant and trainer as well as co-author with John Smythe of ‘Female Entrepreneurs – The Secrets of Their Success‘.