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Being an entrepreneur has its perks, but there are also many challenges as well. For females, in particular, there’s also the need to juggle family, friendships and solo downtime. There is societal pressure to do it all, which can be overwhelming.
Entrepreneurship doesn’t often follow a linear path, and there is no surefire road to success. However, every challenge can become a lesson, which helps to lighten the load and make the road easier over time. Here are a few key lessons I’ve learned along the way and how they’ve shaped my journey.
Lesson #1: Overcoming imposter syndrome
There are unique problems women face that don’t often affect men in the same way. Self-doubt is all too common among women entrepreneurs, as it’s historically been more challenging for us to be taken as seriously or given the same types of opportunities as men.
Consequently, research shows women experience imposter syndrome at a higher rate than men. And consequently, women often feel like they don’t have the knowledge or skills to start their own business. Though overcoming these feelings takes time, one way is to celebrate wins, big and small.
In addition to not feeling capable enough, women often downplay their successes. Rather than focusing on feelings of not being good enough, list accomplishments and use them to illustrate your ability to take on new challenges. Also, let go of feelings of perfectionism, as being an entrepreneur takes a lot of trial and error. With all the factors that could be holding you back, don’t let yourself be one of them.
Related: 5 Lessons for the Fearless Female Entrepreneur
Lesson #2: Finding professional support
It’s easy to get edged out of a male-dominated business world, which makes it important to find a collaborative group of female support when building your brand. Females bring a unique perspective, and sharing challenges and solutions about respective endeavors creates a feeling of connectedness and growth.
Also, as an entrepreneur, the solo aspect can feel isolating as well, so finding resources to help provide that support is important. Start locally by looking into female networking groups and opportunities. HeraHub and other co-working spaces are good places to start since there is already a built-in community. Also, look to your library and social media for people to connect with and opportunities for engagement. Some of the best peer-to-peer relationships start online, so take advantage of technology and schedule virtual and in-person meetups to share experiences and ideas.
Related: 5 Priceless Lessons For First-Time Entrepreneurs
Lesson #3: Always be learning
Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. You must have a willingness to learn. Step outside of your comfort zone and learn from others through webinars, classes, and speaking events. The more knowledge you can absorb and apply to your work, can help you improve your approach.
There will never be a time when you “know it all.” There are endless ways to expand your business and position yourself in a better way for your future. Invest in your continuing education and prioritize what new trends that may be relevant to shape and evolve your business continually.
This may include learning the latest social media platform, creating a new income stream, or evaluating your current business plan to see what is and isn’t working. As an entrepreneur, a lot of research and development goes into business before “getting it right,” and broadening your network and education can only help you in the long run.
Lesson #4: Prioritize self-care
Many women originally entered entrepreneurism to free themselves from the traditional 9-5 workday model. However, they work even longer days because they don’t have boundaries set in place. Alternatively, it can be hard to feel motivated when it’s just you in charge. So, how do you prevent burnout while also maintaining motivation?
The answer is self-care. In our quest to be successful, we often forget to plan time for ourselves. We don’t take breaks, let alone vacations, and end up working more than we would a traditional in-office job. Regardless of how much you enjoy the work you do, you must take care of your physical and mental health.
Stay active with a gym membership and time exercising outside. Eat healthfully and stay hydrated. And get plenty of sleep. Get a facial. These fundamental habits are often overlooked. While indulgences are also beneficial, solid habits are essential to keep you in a healthy space.
Related: 5 Lessons You Can Learn From Some of the World’s Best Businesswomen
Lesson #5: Take more risks
Here’s a secret: the first risk you take is the hardest. After that, you realize you are more capable than what you thought you could achieve. Taking a leap into the unknown is scary but necessary for growth. Foture favors the brave. You’ve also taken the first step as an entrepreneur, but it’s likely the first of many.
To make the risk seem less scary, map out your plan. Ask yourself, what are your goals? What is my passion? How will you achieve them? But the most important question is: how much will you suffer if you stay exactly where you are? There’s no guaranteeing what the future will hold, but if you are unhappy or unsatisfied with your current situation, the only solution is to try something different.
When you honor yourself and follow your true purpose and passion, the reward outweighs the risk. Even the best-laid plans have their detours, so follow a path that will ultimately put you where you want to be.