Professional development

The 5 Essential Steps to being a Girl Boss.

With 125 women elected into office last November, what a wonderful time to be a strong, independent, and determined woman! 2019 is your year to [professionally] shine, sister!

Female-led businesses have increased 58 percent from 2007 to 2018: there’s no denying women’s impact on the business world. However, women still earn an average of 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. Even worse off, black and Hispanic women earn about 60 cents and 55 cents for every white man’s dollar, respectively.

These are both uplifting and sobering statistics. It’s great that women are taking on the small-business-challenge but the never-ending wage gap remains disheartening. What better way to change the tide than participating in the wave?

In my quest to uplift and empower you, the entrepren-her, I have combed the internet for quintessential and significant tips on how to excel at being a female entrepreneur.

But first, a little tip from yours truly: deep breath and don’t ever forget: girl power.


1) Know your passion and construct your brand.

I believe it goes without saying that the most successful CEOs are passionate ones, albeit male or female. In order to get your business on its feet and sprinting to success, you must have a clear and concise concept in mind. Stay committed to this image as you forge your brand. These are the days of social media, and you should be employing this formidable tool to your advantage. Create an Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook page all dedicated to your business. Get the word out and get your logo engrained into the mind of your prospective clients. You ARE passionate and you have a GREAT idea— now get it out there!

2) You don’t have to have hair on your chest to gain respect.

Society has led us to believe that being a business owner is intrinsically tied to a stereotypical “male” attitude: aggressive, harsh, competitive. In a word: macho. You do NOT have to adopt any or all of these qualities to find success. On the contrary, you should be unapologetically you. If we continue to associate these qualities with a successful entrepreneur, or worse, propagate these qualities whether or not they suit us, we will be contributing to the problem. A business owner can be approachable, non-confrontational, and supportive of her counterparts and still find success. And if you do possess some or all of these “male” qualities, then don’t be afraid to assume it. Male and female roles are social-constructs of the past, girl!

3) Your capacity to be a boss, a mother and a wife is your fortitude.

I’ve always found the cliché that women multitask better than men to be conspicuously true. A woman-run business is simply an extension of her already innate capabilities to multitask. Having a family should not be a hindrance but rather proof that you got this! As for the time consumption problem of the equation: I ask you to consider a man in a similar role. Do we patronize the busy businessman? No. Besides, what better a role model than a mama building and securing her future from scratch?

4) Know that you deserve respect then demand it.

I can talk about girl power until I’m blue in the face but talking about it and enacting it are two different things. As a female business owner, you need to exude confidence. Now, be careful not to confuse confidence with the stereotypical “male” attitude we talked about before (unless that is already a part of your personality, in which case, rock on). No, you are confident because you know your product or service inside out. You are confident because you know the brand you have created is exceptional. You are confident because you earned it. Your confidence is your tenacity. This is what will set you apart from your industry counterparts. You may fall victim to others’ ignorance or sexist remarks. But girl, you do not have time for ignorance. You have a prosperous business to run. Shrug it off as best you can because as an entrepren-her, you are constructing a better future for all of us. Don’t shy away from support groups either, we are our best ally. Check out Ewomennetwork or Ellevatenetwork for great advice and support during your path to success. Women supporting women! Disclaimer: Your self-assurance may cause men to shake in their boots.

5) No shame in seeking financing!

During my quest for pertinent information relating to this blog topic, one statistic in particular really shocked me. Just 25% of women seek financing for their business compared to 34% of men who seek funding for their businesses. Queen, there is nothing wrong with getting financial help to get the ball rolling. If you use cash as your main means of capital and shun your back to the lucrative aid of investors you may be cutting yourself short. Starting a business should not be synonymous with bankruptcy, honey. Bear in mind, men usually inflate their financial pitches and investors will, in turn, adjust their numbers right off the bat. It is important to know how to ask concisely for how much you want and adjust your number based on the “exaggeration-effect”.

Female representation in the business world is well overdue. We represent 50% of the population, and eventually…hopefully…50% of all businesses. It is a woman’s right to scoff at stereotypes, demand equal pay, and occupy leadership roles. We seem to be at a turning point in history, so what better time than now to pursue your entrepreneurial dream? Create your brand, be true to yourself, know that family and work DO mix, and command respect. Need more inspiration? Look no further: Leslie, the creator The Blurban Planner, is building her writing empire right before your eyes (and slaying to be perfectly honest). Sign up to this blog for regular inspiration to help construct your own empire and repeat after me: girl power!

Strategic Planning: What It is + Why You Should be Doing it.

Strategic planning

the seven steps from intention to manifestation.

Strategic Planning. You’ve heard this term: perhaps in the context of public policy measures, or in Urban Planning circles. But what does it really mean? It’s become a buzzword and- just like the term ‘organic’- can empirically be measured yet has become a tossed around misnomer.

Firstly, strategic planning is a process; an action word and not merely an adjective. There are distinct steps involved in this process. Today, I’ll discuss these with you: what it is and what it does. Secondly, I will deep dive into why you need to be engaging in strategic planning as a tool for manifesting your intentions.

On A Mission.

First, a strategic plan must answer the following questions: what is the mission and what exactly, is the vision? By identifying the vision, you are able to conceptualize exactly what it is you want. Clarify your mission and detail your vision.

Where you Stand

Next, you must address where you stand within the context of your domain. Are you at the top of your industry? Is your brand solid within your market? Things to think about here are what type of clientele you are working with or the type of networking opportunities you attract. If you aren’t putting yourself out there as a leader within your industry, then expect the people you want to attract to treat you the same. Once you’ve determined where you stand, anticipate where you see yourself going within your market, should the status quo maintain. Does that look like something you want to manifest?

If you aren’t putting yourself out there as a leader within your industry, then expect the people you want to attract to treat you the same.

Consensus on Priorities

If you are a business, then you will need to come to a consensus on the priorities for not only what needs to change but how to proceed forward. Decide on what changes need to be made, and come to an agreement on where exactly you want to position your brand within the context of your future market.

As an individual, your brand is YOU. The decision-maker is YOU. However, it is not a wise move to wait until you get negative feedback from clientele or a potential employer. Thus, I would advice you to form an advisory committee of trusted individuals who you feel confident will give you honest feedback and constructive criticism. Ask for their feedback on areas of opportunity (not flaws) and ways they think you can more effectively position yourself in a way to achieve your vision.

Plan Your Plan

The fourth step involves the actual planning process, where you sit down and map out a route to achieving your dream. (Did you realize so much would be involved before being ready for this step?) In fact, many individuals fail to actualize their dream or fulfill their plans because they do not thoroughly follow a strategic planning methodology. Like a scientist foregoing the Scientific Method, skipping steps and ‘Swiss cheesing” your brand’s game plan will also produce unfavorable results.

Distribute Tasks

If you are a multi-person company, then this step is fairly straightforward: divide the work to be done among yourselves. If you are an individual (sole proprietor, or simply a person trying to establish yourself as a brand and leader within your industry for job hunting purposes) then this is where you find resources and entities that you can outsource work to in order to accomplish all steps in your plan. Examples of such external resources include:

-Having a Freelance Writer or Content Developer update your resume and online profile. The Blurban Planner is one such resource; contact me today to help with this task.
-Getting a logo designed from a professional graphics designer.
-Consider a re-branding stylist to restructure your appearance (and ultimately, your position) within your industry.

You are only one person, and are not the expert of everything. Outsourcing what can be effectively accomplished by someone more established in that arena is not only efficient for you, but allows you to ensure you are getting the best quality standard for your needs.

Red- Carpet Your Release!

Now is the time to roll out your plan, and reintroduce yourself and your now-defined goals and objectives into the public space. Here is where your newly formed brand becomes ready for public scrutiny. This can be a very challenging and anxious step in the process, so be sure to fortify yourself with outlets for TLC. Make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself and bite off more than you can chew during this phase of the strategic plan. Take it easy, and you will get through this phase all the wiser and with experience to boot.

Accountability

Finally, as you watch the strategic plan unfold and your work towards achieving your ultimate goal manifest, hold yourself and your stakeholders accountable. Periodically, stop to ‘take your temperature’ by assessing strategies that are under performing, and apply the lessons learned from bad decisions in order to prevent them from repeating themselves.

Why You Need to Incorporate a Strategic Plan

Some of the benefits of strategic planning include (but are certainly not limited to): solidifying your distinction within your market, increasing your marketable value and helping you find weaknesses and areas of opportunity within your own core competencies. Clients or potential employers will have a well-defined understanding of what bring to the table. Armed with this clear demarcation, you set yourself apart from stragglers within your industry and because you have demonstrated your value by doing this, you can justify increasing your financial worth. Negotiate for a pay raise at your next yearly review. Increase your quoted price and retainer (if applicable) on your next proposal. Start earning what you DESERVE. Lastly, strategic planning will allow you to be more cognizant of errors and fallacies within your business model. Strategic planning in and of itself is not a business plan; it is simply a complementary bridge connecting where you are to where you want to be in the future context of your industry.

Now that I’ve outlined the nuts and bolts of Strategic Planning, how will you use this information to advance your brand and manifest your goals?