Monday October 7, 2019 0 comments
By Ariana Friedlander
"That's never going to work, I'm not going to fit in there" (I thought to myself dejectedly as the SBDC consultant I met with at the Northern Colorado Women's Small Business Conference shared an idea for my business).
This annual conference boosts speakers, free business consulting, networking and booths all geared at helping women business owners thrive.
Only 22-26% of businesses in Colorado are majority owned by women. A staggering 99.9% of women-owned businesses are small, as in they have 500 or less employees (with the average number of employees being about 8).
And a mere 2.2% of all venture capital is invested in women-owned businesses. Clearly there's a case for supporting this group of entrepreneurs and boosting the economy to boat.
Betsy Markey, an experienced small business owner and executive director of OEDIT, encouraged everyone there in her morning remarks: "Make sure you're getting the help you need and taking care of yourself."
A key indicator for success emerged early on in the day.
"You have to believe. It's what's happening between your ears that counts." Melissa Kellogg emphasized this point in her talk about marketing.
Colleen Stanevich focused on the importance of cultivating a healthy inner voice. Women tend to get sucked into patterns of self-doubt and lack of confidence. Such tendencies keep women from reaching their full potential.
When I started my business over 8 years ago, I found my inner critic would instill a fear in me that insisted on action. It was essentially a fire, ready, aim approach.
I would convince myself, "I have to do this, the success of my business depends on it." And I found myself spread too thin, without focus and continuously disappointed. I worked hard on changing that inner dialogue, intentionally shifting my thought processes in my journal.
In time, I shed my naivety about business and with that took up a more jaded perspective. Knowing how hard and painful being an entrepreneur can be, my inner dialogue took on a new tone in the last few years.
Swinging to the other extreme, I developed a tendency to discount nearly every idea as not possible, not reasonable, not realistic, not doable, not right for me.
I explained my inner dialogue to the SBDC consultant: "I'm aware of the ways I'm holding myself back by believing thoughts like that and I'm making a choice not to listen. I will explore what you suggested."
I walked away from the Northern Colorado Women's Small Business Conference with a powerful ‘aha.’ Taking care of myself means continuously nurturing my relationship with my thoughts.
There are lots of sneaky ways my inner critic will hold me back and keep me small. This deceptive inner dialogue can pose as a way to protect myself from fear, uncertainty and shame. But really it just keeps me playing small because it stops me from taking even strategic risks.
Keynote speaker Beryl Satfford repeated one phrase over and over again as she recounted her story starting Bobos: "I had no idea what I was doing, and I thought, I'll figure it out!"
This was a consistent theme in her journey from those first days making Bobos in her kitchen onward. No matter what she accomplished, there was always some new hurdle she never encountered before.
Amanda Palker summed it up best in her book The Art of Asking: "The difference between the amateurs and the professionals is simple: The professionals know they’re winging it. The amateurs pretend they’re not.”
It's time my fellow women entrepreneurs and I embrace that we're all just figuring it out as we go and take the radical next step to believe that figuring it out is actually possible!