Owning and running your own business is empowering and deeply fulfilling. And yet it can also be one of the most crushing and difficult times in your life. That’s the truth about entrepreneurship. And it’s this darker, tougher side of being a female entrepreneur that we don’t discuss enough.
We look at social media and think “Gosh, look at her, I’ll never be able to do that”. We don’t think we’re deserving of something: “I can’t believe they picked me, when so-and-so is so much better than me”.
Or, we attend networking events, and every woman there seems to have everything so together – and all they seem interested in is talking up their businesses.
“Running your own business … can also be one of the most crushing and difficult times in your life.”
Winning and Not-so-much Winning
One entrepreneur in a group I’m a part of on Facebook, started sharing every stat, every win from her latest product launch. Virtually daily, she would post how many email sign-ups she had received, how many people had watched her videos, how many people had bought her product and how much money she was making – which was in the thousands.
And while most people were publicly celebrating her wins (and good on her for her wins were impressive), I noticed that there were a few of the less gregarious in the group that stayed super quiet. Finally, one of them posted a comment.
“I realised that instead of celebrating her first win … she felt she wasn’t good enough … She had compared her progress with someone else’s and felt inadequate.”
She announced that she had just made her first ever “5,000 …..cents”. She had made $50 from her business after having working for months. She finished her post by telling us how she was going to give up her business.
I realised that instead of celebrating her first win – something that should be her first positive sign for her business – she felt she wasn’t good enough. Instead of looking at her first income as a milestone, she had compared her progress with someone else’s and felt inadequate.
“Women generally don’t spend enough time applauding ourselves … for every woman who is gloriously happy … there are probably 10 others feeling deflated … ”
I want to make it super clear that this isn’t about being unsupportive of someone else’s success, nor is it about feeling like we need to downplay our wins.
In fact, I’m the first to say that we need to be proud of our successes. I’m also the first to say that women generally don’t spend enough time applauding ourselves. However we need to be aware that for every woman who is gloriously happy and shouting from the rooftops, there are probably 10 others feeling deflated, defeated.
The Real Truth About Entrepreneurship
There are two sides of this coin.
First – it’s hard to remain completely optimistic and idealistic about our business 24 x 7. Especially when you’re having a less than perfect day in your business, and being surrounded by perky, happy, “life-is-amazing” entrepreneurs can greatly amplify our deflation.
We really have to coach ourselves (what I call the “mental battle”) and remind ourselves that we shouldn’t define our success against someone else’s “highlight” reel. Most entrepreneurs aren’t likely to drop their guard and show off their bad days, so what we see and hear is usually just that – “highlights”, and not the whole story. Ultimately, our strength is in how we choose to deal with our emotions when looking at someone else’s highlights.
“We really have to … remind ourselves that we shouldn’t define our success against someone else’s “highlight”
The flip side of that is that we need to remember to look out for each other. So in your community, take the time to celebrate the wins, but also to ask if everyone is OK, if anyone needs help or is feeling overwhelmed.
For it’s in the support of each other that makes us truly worthy to call ourselves women entrepreneurs and women in business.
Wendy Mak is a speaker, presenter, author and mentor in both the fields of fashion and business. She has appeared on Today Tonight, The Morning Show, Channel Ten news and in New Idea, Women’s Agenda, The Daily Telegraph, SMH, AFR, Woman’s Day and more.
Wendy is passionate about supporting women in business grow as entrepreneurs through training & mentoring, delivered via The Growth Club with Wendy Mak. Wendy’s signature program is Smart, Savvy & Rich, a ‘start and grow your business’ course rated 9.5 / 10 out of 10 by participants in its first year of operation.
The True Face of Entrepreneurship Interview Series
To highlight the topic in this post, Wendy has been interviewing a number of women entrepreneurs about the truth behind their success, including Angela Vithoulkas, Suzy Jacobs, Gillian Franklin, Jac Bowie, Bianca Monley, Robyn Foyster and Sarah Riegelhuth. You can watch the interviews here.