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An inspiring woman in business

There are many women in business who have inspirational stories and lessons we can learn from. Arianna Huffington is visiting Sydney this week, so this is an opportune time to write about what we can learn from her.

Arianna Huffington is most well-known for the news and blog site ‘The Huffington Post’ that she launched in 2005. If you are on social media, you are likely to have seen an article or two from this website, which has become a “frequently cited media brand”.

Aside from Huffington’s forays into politics, book writing and even some acting, an incident in 2007 gave her another ‘platform’ to push. She suffered a facial injury when she fainted at work, because she was severely exhausted and not getting enough sleep. In many of her books and within her own workplace, she promotes a healthy balance between work and the ‘rest of life’ and the ‘power of a good night’s sleep’.

Her latest book, ‘Thrive’, is the culmination of what she has been practicing and preaching since her fainting incident. It is an attempt to ‘redefine what it means to be successful in todays’ world’.

What is success to you? Is it about the amount of money you are earning? The number of staff you have? Arianna Huffington has learnt the hard way that our traditional notions of success lead to burnout, illness and “an erosion in the quality of our relationships, family life, and, ironically, our careers”.

Most business women I know are not getting enough sleep and operate their work and lives in a way that can have disastrous effects. As Huffington says “The essence of leadership is being able to see the iceberg before it hits the Titanic."


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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Switching Off

b2ap3_thumbnail_lightswitch_sml.jpgAs a woman in business, you have probably seen the latest television advertisements for the company AAMI. The premise of the light-hearted scenario is that “small business owners never switch off”.

I found myself agreeing somewhat: if you are anything like me, you are always thinking of ideas and your business is never far from your mind. Inspiration can strike at the oddest of times and often occurrences and experiences outside of your work time can prove to be useful to your business (in a variety of ways).

However, the more I see these advertisements, the sadder I become. The dad who is speaking to a client on the phone in his van, while he watches his son’s AFL game, is cheating himself and his son. He is watching the game, but he is not fully present. And I am certain that this would not go unnoticed by his son. Spending quality time with friends and family (and particularly children) means not being distracted and focussing fully on them.

Although business owners should be passionate about their business - and there will always be times when urgencies, deadlines and crises mean that the business ‘comes first’ - we also need to switch off. Children grow up quickly, friendships need regular input and life in general passes by all too quickly. We need to invest time in the things that are important.

Switching off is also important for your business. If you are never, or seldom, taking time to refresh and regenerate, your business will become stale. You will miss opportunities, increase stress levels, decrease motivation and find it difficult to negotiate your way through difficult periods. Do yourself, your family and your business a huge favour: schedule daily, weekly, quarterly and yearly times where you truly “switch off” from business.

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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Balance Beam

On Facebook this week I was reading many responses to the resignation of Georgie Gardner, one of the hosts of The Today Show. She explained that she was leaving so she could spend time with her family while her children are still young. Most women admire her decision, although the reaction has also been “Georgie seemed like she had it all, but even SHE can’t balance a demanding job and children”.

Georgie certainly isn’t suggesting (in words or example) that every working mother needs to follow her lead. But it did prompt me to think again about how business women achieve some sort of balance.

Everyone who has started a business has encountered numerous situations where they needed to seek expert advice. Seeking assistance (with tasks outside your skill set or on larger ‘direction’ and goal issues) is essential to taking back time.

You need to ensure that you plan the next steps and goals in your business: but you also need to be prepared to throw it out! You will waste time and create more stress by sticking with a plan that isn’t working.

Although it likely goes against your very core as a business owner, you need to stop aiming for perfection in everything you do. There will always be something that can be improved and if you wait for ‘perfection’, you are likely to miss opportunities and waste a great deal of time aiming for the unachievable.

We all feel overwhelmed at times. But the sooner we realise that extensive hours (and inadequate sleep) has more negative than positive results, the sooner we will find a better balance in life.

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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A Letter to Myself

If you could write a letter to yourself to read before your started your business, what advice would you give? There are many things I wish I had known – perhaps some of the following will resonate with you too:

  • You are not supposed to know how to do everything. What you DO need to get good at is finding the right answers quickly and getting the right advice. Trying to do everything will lead to burnout and not little success.
  • You will never be ‘done’ with your work. The sooner you realise that putting in twice as much work generally doesn’t result in your business moving forward twice as fast, the sooner you will achieve work/life balance. There will always be more things you can work on, but your work should be about enabling a fruitful personal life, not be a drain on it.
  • Your success is affected by the people around you. Jim Rohn has a great quote: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Choose to be around positive people, and choose to be around ‘doers’ not ‘talkers’.
  • Never take advice from anyone who hasn’t done, or isn’t doing, what you want to accomplish.
  • You will be embarking on an emotional rollercoaster. But know that when you feel down, things will improve. And when you feel great, enjoy the moment and celebrate! Starting a business will likely be the hardest thing you will ever do, but the rewards are also larger if you embark on it with support and the right advice.

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

 

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Happiness

There are some recent studies which show that female entrepreneurs are happier than their male counterparts. Not only that, they are generally amongst the happiest people in the world. Speaking from my own experience, I know that I only have to imagine working for an employer, and I immediately realise how satisfied and happy I am with my current circumstances!

The happiness of female entrepreneurs overall may be due to some practical reasons, such as the average ‘salary’ being much higher than those in traditional employment. But I think there are some more compelling reasons that this.

Although I have written a number of articles relating to the difficulties of ‘work/life balance’, the fact is that ultimately you are in control of the hours you work and can adjust your schedule to suit. Last year I was able to attend all my children’s special events and activities, despite working an average of 40 hours a week. I am fully aware of how valuable this is and this benefit was one of the motivating factors to starting (and now continuing) my business.

Many female business owners and entrepreneurs start their enterprise because they want to ‘make a difference’. This might be directly via business products/services or as an ‘offshoot’ of business profits (for example, donating money, time or resources to supporting social enterprises). Brain scientists agree that the more ‘good’ you do, the happier you are. It stands to reason that having the opportunity to incorporate rewarding work into your everyday activities will increase your happiness.

If what you do does not make you feel a high degree of happiness, perhaps it’s time to question why you do what you do?

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

 

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Abundance

At a time of year where you are probably feeling swamped by busyness, it is good to remember that as a female business owner, you really are operating in an environment of abundance. Too often we can get ourselves in a rut of bemoaning the lack of cash flow or the proliferation of competitors. But in reality, those are just excuses.

As the ‘captain of your ship’ you need to remember that you hold the power to make your dreams a reality. Other people spend time fantasising about it: you are actually out there doing it! And as an added bonus, you know you enjoy being able to make decisions that affect your future, rather than being beholden to someone else’s goals and dreams.

Running your own business should mean you have flexibility and freedom – if not you need to ask whether you’ve just created a ‘job’ for yourself with an inflexible boss (you!). Yes, you work hard and often put in more hours than your friends and family with regular jobs. But ultimately you get to decide when to take time off and how many hours you put in.

In our current technological age, we have an abundance of resources at our fingertips: advice, how-tos, online support, blogs, webinars and more. What would have taken weeks of research, and a great deal of time and effort to solve, can now take a few hours.

This abundance of resources and circumstances should spur you on to continue forging ahead. Positive thinking by itself will get you nowhere. But being grateful for what you do have and viewing your situation in a positive light, will give you better focus and drive.

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

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Crash and Burn

When was the last time you took a break from your business - a break longer than two days? For many business owners, the answer is often at least one year ago, and for too many, the last ‘real’ holiday they had was before they started their business. In an online forum recently, one business owner said ‘but if you are passionate about what you do then it’s not really work anyway’ as a way of explaining why she doesn’t take holidays. I think this business owner is deluding herself. It doesn’t matter how passionate you are, everyone needs a break from the ‘everyday tasks’.

For those of you who do take regular breaks, I’m sure you have noticed that a number of things happen:

  • Problems that seemed insurmountable often seem possible to solve
  • Long term goals and priorities (both business and personal) become clearer
  • Productivity is increased when you return to work
  • Your general outlook and attitude towards your business improves

Women in business are particularly prone to burnout, because we are generally balancing many different roles and multi-tasking. But our brains and bodies need a break. We are not designed to work relentlessly every day of the year.

If your business is set up so that it can’t run without you, then you need to seriously look at ways that it can. A successful long term business is one that CAN continue to run without you, either via outsourcing parts of the business or employing managers. Aside from the need for a break, if your business can’t run without you, then it’s not going to survive in the event of an accident or another emergency that results in you not being able to work.

Start small. Schedule a 2 day break and put things in place so that you are not “checking up” on it. Gradually increase the number of days each time until you are taking at least 2 weeks off at a time. You owe it to yourself, your family and your business.

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

 

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Adaptability

b2ap3_thumbnail_ladder.jpgMen still dominate the top of the corporate ladder because many women take time out of their careers to raise children. But in most other areas, women are beginning to lead the way – in fact a US study has shown that twelve out of the fifteen fastest-growing professions are dominated by women.

Why is that so? Some theories suggest that in order to succeed, you need a good attention span, be emotionally sensitive and be able to communicate well. This is often a difficult task for boys and our current education system is perhaps more suited to girls.

However, there is another theory being bandied about: that is, perhaps women are more adaptable to change? US author Hanna Rosin argues that women are like immigrants who have moved to a new country – they flexibly adapt to new circumstances. Conversely, she says that men are like immigrants who have physically moved, but have kept their minds in the old country. They speak the old language and follow the old way of doing things.

From the point of view of a female business owner who is also the parent of two young boys, I would add that the experience of being a primary caregiver also develops great skills in adaptability, multi-tasking and switching frequently between tasks. I’ve learnt to be less of a perfectionist (in a positive sense!) and to grab opportunities when they come my way. This is not to say men cannot possess these skills (many do!) but as research is showing, women are adapting to change and perhaps becoming more resilient than men when it comes to surviving in a changing economy.

So next time you are switching between making lunches, helping with homework, putting on a load of washing, and organising appointments, be assured that it’s assisting you to become a successful business owner!

 

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

 

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Changing the Rules

Women are leading the way when it comes to finding new ways of working. The traditional workplace that is designed by men, usually with stay-at-home spouses, isn’t working for many women – or men for that matter.

Women are finding that many workplaces are inflexible (and unrealistic) when it comes to catering for family needs and living a life outside the office.   In the US, women are starting companies at more than twice the rate of men. And in doing so, they are rewriting the workplace rules and changing culture. This is particularly evident in relation to when, where and how work gets done – gone are the expectations that work can only be done 9-5 Monday to Friday. Flexible workplaces are beginning to emerge that focus on the best way to achieve results while allowing staff to maintain a more balanced life.

Many female business owners (myself included!) list flexibility as one of their main reasons for starting a business. Being able to work around family commitments is highly valued by most women and a great motivator for finding a way to create a workplace that has flexible work hours and ways of getting work done.

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

 

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Content with Chaos

Most women in business are juggling many things, and despite our best intentions, it can feel quite chaotic at times.

Last year, I set a goal with my business coach: to be content with the chaos. This wasn’t something I was particularly keen on doing. Yes, I wanted to do something to improve the “balancing act”, but navel gazing is not generally my thing. Anyone who knows me well would agree that I'm a very pragmatic, task oriented, "get on with it/over it" kind of person.

But despite my misgivings, we started out by observing what felt chaotic. Amazingly, the very act of writing down those things began a process of feeling okay about the chaos. I began to pinpoint areas that really triggered those feelings of chaos and working out "is it me or my environment?". I began to approach “chaos” with a bit more clarity and sanity!

It was interesting that a really simple exercise resulted in small but significant changes in my perception and therefore outlook.

And often it is small changes that can make all the difference: making time for a 15 minute walk during the day; getting to bed 30 minutes earlier; getting up before the kids so you’re ready for their morning routine; taking time for small celebrations (eg clearing your inbox!).

In the words of Frank A. Clark: “Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things”

 


Michelle Grice writes a weekly column for business women in The Western Weekender

 

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Contact Us

Shel Design
PO Box 8142, Glenmore Park NSW 2745
0412 701 147
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Mon-Thurs 9am-4pm
ABN: 88 695 161 542

Contact Us

Shel Design
PO Box 8142
Glenmore Park NSW 2745
0412 701 147
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABN: 88 695 161 542

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