Julie paused, stood outside the door, took a deep breath, straightened her jacket and walked into the room. She looked around to see that as usual she was the only female present.  “I wish I had a few allies,” she thought to herself.

How many women feel in this situation, the minority in their working environment? When women constitute less than 25% of the total number of employees in a given industry, it is known as a ‘Non-Traditional Occupation’. The are many advantages and disadvantages to working in a non-traditional occupation, or in an environment that for some reason or other, in this situation it has a gender imbalance. It can depend on our outlook or perspective as to whether it is seen as an advantage or disadvantage. For example, sometimes it can seem intimidating or stressful to be the only female present.  On the other hand, the advantage is that we are easily remembered and can stand out in the crowd which means if we want to be noticed, this is a place we can make a difference, especially if we wear bright and bold colors. Stand out and be noticed, be confident about the difference you bring.

Do women stand out in the crowd? According to the National Women’s Business Council, the economic upheaval of COVID has opened up opportunities for women in business. The report indicates that women owned business make up 39.1 percent of all US businesses which is an increase from 2019-2023 of 13.6 percent. Women owned businesses contribute substantially and remain undaunted about starting and growing their own business. I’d say that stands out in the crowd. The US Senate Committee on small business and entrepreneurship mentioned in a recent report that women are creating about half of new business for the third year in a row.

With seemingly a lack of opportunities and flexibility in larger business corporations, often women can feel more pressure to ‘perform’ and end up working much harder to prove themselves in their working environment, creating stress. These are the very reasons which motivate women to start a business, or to be in an environment where results and performance dictate the path. Work hard and reap the rewards.

From my own experiences as well as being a consultant, many of the women I have worked with have several roles to play. Professional women such as doctors, attorneys, trades, and engineers. As if running a business does not have enough hats of its own to juggle, there is also the role of mother and homemaker. Each role has demands and combining them all together can also create stress unless we remain focused on what we want to achieve and are present to each role thatwe play. For example, say we have a career where there is a requirement for continued education. This is something that typically gets pushed to the side. How do we fit in continued education when there are car pools to take care of and after school activities, even after day care and baby sitters, especially if we have a partner who travels on business too? Planning the week ahead can help. Look and see if the education classes are recorded, streamed,  in an audio version or podcast, something that can be downloaded and played in the car or on the phone to and from work, you’ll be amazed at how much can be learned during this time period. If this is not an option, allocate regular time frames, perhaps 30 minutes 3 times a week and plan to learn when you are at your most focused. Chip away module by module and the task will soon be completed. Break it down into smaller chunks, even 10-15 minutes will make a difference.

Planning time for yourself is so important, even if it is just to walk for a few minutes or find a quite spot to read a book or sit and have a cup of coffee. This is not time to feel guilty about taking, this time is vital to rejuvenate yourself. Remember when we travel by airplane, the attendant will say “put the oxygen mask on yourself first so you will then be able to help others”?  This time for ourselves is that same oxygen mask. If we do not take care of ourself, we will not be in good shape to help others effectively.

When it becomes difficult to know what to do next, a mentor, coach or colleague can be a life saver, someone to hold us accountable and cheer us on, or when required give us ‘tough love’ to keep us on track.

The common thread seems to be that women in business are confident about themselves and courageous about what they do.  Yes, sometimes there is a challenge or something that is nerve wracking, but successful business women face the challenge head on.  These days we live in a big melting pot. Over the years transport and the internet have made the world a smaller place and as such the dynamics of how we do business is ever changing allowing ease of communication.  It is a time that female entrepreneurs are growing and developing. Please share your advice and challenges, let’s see how we can encourage one another to move forward.

6 Successful Practices for Women in Business:

  1. Know your priorities, who and what comes first in your life
  2. Know your trade
  3. Keep up with industry standards
  4. Take time out for yourself (put the oxygen mask on you first)
  5. Personal development (know who you are)
  6. Have a business mentor

Testimonial: A female doctor was completely at her wits end. She was working long hours, paying overtime for childcare, and her practice was overwhelming her. Home life was stressed, and she felt she had no time to learn or spend time with the family.

Working with Elaine, her business profits increased by 25%, she reduced her childcare, was able to read 3 books, which was more than she had read in the last 10 years. She is so happy because she has been on 2 long weekend breaks with the family. She was also able to catch up with continued education credits for her profession.