There are three rules I apply to everything that I do. I suggest them to anyone in business or those considering a business of their own:
1. Do what you love and love what you do. This is how to get the best results. It’s also the best way to create great clients. Love your clients and exceed their expectations.
2. Help others and give back. It is very rewarding and appreciated.
3. Enjoy being part of the online revolution. This has brought highlights and challenges, so continuous learning is required.
Working side-by-side with businesses in a variety of roles, I have been very impressed with the way women are creating successful businesses through their ability to multi-task. They are making the most of every productive hour in the day, running businesses from home, managing families and being actively involved in their communities. They are receiving more support from within their families and are more willing to utilise this support. Women are great managers and not afraid to tackle the hard decisions when required. If there is one lesson I have learned in my business career, it is to not burn the candle at both ends, rather, pick one end of the candle and burn the hell out of it!. For a successful and happy life, there MUST be a work/life balance. The consequences of taking on too much are too great, especially in the long run.
In 1996 I was interviewed by BR Weekly, the subject being “Finding the time to take some time off”. I’d started my business 2 years prior. Two years before that, I was a senior PA in the Corporate World and at the same time, Victorian President of the Institute of Professional Secretaries (Aust). I hadn’t had a holiday in 4 years when interviewed, and, being in a service industry, I was afraid to say ‘no’. I kept telling myself that I was too busy to take time off, I didn’t want to let my clients down or I might even miss that magical big opportunity! Then I realised you just can’t be everything to everybody – time and the price you pay for it doesn’t allow it. I ended up taking a holiday after that interview which gave me time to think strategically at the long term perspectives, relax, and be free of daily worries .
Having a sound work-life balance is a challenge when you are running your own business, particularly when you are home-based. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’. Digital media has opened up new ways for business people, particularly women, to connect. Their ability to become more involved online and offline, as seen with the increased availability of women’s business networks and social media allows us to connect at any hour. Networking online cuts out having to drive to meetings, allows business women to reach a global market without leaving home, and webinars make at-home learning easy. I think that conditions and opportunities have improved for women in some industries. There is still some ground to make up in some of the male dominated industries – especially the technical world. However, I believe there is a better balance.
I encourage everyone to find ways to follow your dream and live life to the fullest. Embrace change, don’t be afraid of it. What you feed will grow, so whatever you want to develop in your business, your family life or your personal development, focus on it as hard and as often as you can.
Finally, remember those three great words: Network, Network, Network. Use other business professionals as a resource – you don’t have to know it all. It’s not just about connecting with people you already know. Go along to trade shows and expos in related industries. Spark up a conversation as you never know where this may lead. You may meet someone you would like to create joint ventures with, or perhaps there may be someone there who would be a great supplier. Be their supplier; be their freelancer. There are plenty of networking groups just waiting for you to show up.
Women are great networkers. They are very open in communication – more emotional, they excel at nurturing relationships. Creating a successful business takes time and effort so make sure you’re working at something you love otherwise it becomes a burden.