WHETHER you’re just starting out and setting up your own business, or you’re already flying up the career ladder – there are always new things we can learn.
It could be how to bag that promotion, or making your business idea flourish, constantly pushing yourself forward is essential to reach your goals.
From managing staff to approaching financial issues, here seven career-orientated women share the top business lessons they’ve learned.
No regrets, be relentless – and say no
Over the years certain key lessons inevitably stand out.
For Karen Barrett, Founder and CEO of Unbiased.co.uk, her number one learning has been the importance of attitude.
She says: “There’s always a way to get things done – be positive, tenacious, relentless, and focussed about what you want.”
Former barrister Sonal Keay, a luxury fabric entrepreneur and founder of This Is Silk and This Is Linen, agrees, adding: “It’s really important to be courageous and try, rather than regret not trying – life is short and too short for regrets.”
For Claire Gleave, founder of maternity sportswear brand Natal Active, her top tip is: “Never be afraid to say no.
“Early in my marketing career it was suggested that myself and another blonde female colleague get dressed up in shorts and baseball caps to run a stand at a motor show, inevitably targeting a mostly male, middle-aged customer.
“I flatly refused. No disrespect to anyone that chooses to do this but this was not the marketing that I wanted to be known for doing – I knew I needed to be taken seriously even early on and this was not going to help me do that.”
Be firm but fair
To make it to the top of your game can require personal drive, but also the ability to lead and motivate others too.
Multi-award-winning Joanne Emmerson has worked in marketing and design for nearly 35 years, and is a post graduate lecturer in Marketing Communications.
She says: “The best leaders are firm but fair, and never resort to aggression.
“Lead like a woman – strong, compassionate, with the ability to multi-task – and you will knock it out of the park.”
To climb the career ladder, Karen adds: “There are two things I believe you need to be confident at if you want to be successful – the first is speaking in front of others and the second being able to effectively manage others.
“There aren’t many roles where you can advance consistently and meaningfully without taking on the responsibility of others, so learning early on in your career to manage others well is definitely a good step to take.
“Remember that it’s a skill you can learn like any other and with practice these skills will become second nature.”
Ensure you’re constantly challenged
It’s also important not to get complacent.
Claire says: “You have to take full responsibility for climbing the career ladder. It won’t fall into your lap by just being in a job for a long time.
“It’s vital to either move companies or, if you stay with one company for a long time, as I did, ensure you are constantly challenged.
“Proactively put yourself forward to be involved in the right projects that are adding to your CV and strengthening your case for the next promotion.”
The course to success
There are also plenty of courses out there to help you gain confidence.
Amanda Watson is the Director of Ambitions Personnel, which has a turnover reaching over £45m.
She says: “I took the decision to complete a people management course very early in my career and have carried what I learnt throughout.”
Karen says: “I’d always recommend going on a ‘Handling conflict’ course.
“Comes in just as handy fighting a parking ticket and dealing with your children as it does when dealing with an irate customer or colleague who doesn’t share your opinion.”
Joanne adds: “Time management is a key skill and one of the best courses I have completed was learning how to structure my day.
“Any training is good training – never stop learning.”
Know your numbers
Of course, no successful business can function without a proper grasp on the financial side too.
Sonal advises: “You must know your numbers from day one.
“Passion might be enough to start with but without a good grasp on finances it is hard to make decisions with confidence.”
Managing Director of Ultrasun UK & Founder SkinSense Abi Cleeve says: “I run my business like a household. Security is vital, I have never borrowed and we stay in the black at all times.
“It means I spent many years being the lowest paid member of the team but the business is strong and stable and we can weather storms as necessary.”
Amanda adds: “Take advice from your bank or accountant seriously, their judgement as an outside voice can be mission critical.”
One of the most crucial lessons is also how to hire, and manage, a team.
CEO and co-founder of Witco, Eliane Lugassy, says: “Hire the people will will support the culture of your business.
“Find the best people who understand your company and its purpose.”
Karen says: “When hiring I always look for a spark in people, a real interest and passion for what they do.
“Even if the skillset they come to me with isn’t 100 per cent what was required, nine times out of 10 a good attitude will make up for it.”
Abi says: “I was once told that second rate people hire third rate people to make them look good, but top rate people hire other top rate people to challenge them.
“My team certainly challenges me, and I’m really grateful for it.”
Teamwork makes the dream work
Success is also all about helping team members improve their own careers – and home life – too.
Claire says: “You’re probably not the only one wanting to climb the ladder and in helping your team work towards the same, you will have motivation and loyalty from them for as long as they are with you.”
Joanne says: “I give our employees enormous flexibility to take care of personal business during the working week.
“It works. We’re a tight knit family unit. In 25 years, I’ve never had anyone leave.”
Juggling kids with career
On top of working, for many of us, life involves juggling childcare and family life too – which can be difficult.
Abi says: “Accept that guilt is to some extent a part of your genetic make-up – guilty when you are at work and guilty when you are not.
“Acknowledge that having a family makes you more determined, more motivated and definitely more tired!
“I have held board level presentations with Weetabix on my shoulder and still got the gig so it can be done, and it’s OK!”
Claire adds: “It’s hard and a juggle whatever age they are at.
“Obviously if you are able to work flexibly that is the ideal, but not everyone can have that.
“However even on my busiest days I ensure I have some one to one time with each of my three boys.
“Even if its a short story at bed time, that connection is important for all of us.”
Credit: Source link