Sage Advice

Three rules for women in business to live by

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

There are nearly 8 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. Women are a growing force in business and a rising influential voice in the global economy. And, seventy-one percent expect their companies to grow in the coming year, according to the recent Sage Business Index.

Growing women-led businesses, like any business, is not without challenges. Sage Business Index survey respondents said government bureaucracy and the government’s handling of economic challenges are obstacles to their growth. But, how women will grow their businesses is less about legislation, business taxes and an improving economy. Instead it’s about human nature and learning not to overcomplicate things.

Simple is best

Too often, people overthink, over-explain and overcomplicate things. I’m guilty of it. Overcomplicating affects how you manage people, your productivity, and how you collaborate. It affects everything down to second guessing the course for your business. You want to put a strategy in place, build a plan, examine every angle, and then move forward. In a constantly changing marketplace, taking too long to build the plan can cause you to miss the opportunity.

That’s why it’s often best to go with your gut instinct. Women have a great advantage in business; we’re genetically coded to have strong instincts. Harnessing your instincts and listening to your gut, combined with your experience, can make you unstoppable, in any economy.

Find the hard data to back up what your gut is telling you—because you do need to look before you leap—but then move on. Trust in what you started and save the questions for the post-mortem.

Live your brand

The best way to grow your business is through a clearly defined brand. You brand goes beyond catchy slogans and eye-catching photography; it’s everything you do. And, as a small business owner, YOU are your brand, plain and simple.

Focus on your brand and what sets you apart from competitors. Be authentic; be YOU. Know what your brand stands for, and most importantly, make sure your customers know what your brand stands for. If you give your customers something to identify with and connect to and then build on those relationships, they’ll likely be your customers for life.

At the end of the day, it’s you that sets your company apart. Part of believing in yourself is living your brand, so embrace that and grow.

Help each other

Going with your gut and keeping things simple is easier said than done. That’s why it’s important to find a sounding board in a good mentor who will help you center, see the possibilities in new opportunities, and understand the risks.

We all like to think our challenges are unique. But someone has likely walked our path before; they may have even stumbled down it. Find one of these women and learn from her mistakes and wins. The right mentor will help you trust your gut.

Don’t forget to pay it forward, too. You can gain as much from being the mentor as you can the mentee. As things change in our economy and your market, women in business have to go with their instincts and not get distracted or off course when opportunities arise. If you simply own who you are (and are your best, authentic self), the rest—and likely, the best—will follow.

About the author

Born and raised in Alaska, Gabie Boko, has innovation in her blood, and has built her career in marketing, sales, and channel development with leading technology innovators. Some highlights of her 18-year career include constructing the custom catalogue function for Insight Enterprises early in her career, then developing the field marketing function for Cognos Corporation, rebranding Outlooksoft prior to its sale to SAP, and building the customer value management organization at SAP. She has developed and managed high-performance teams across enterprise solutions including business intelligence, content management, business performance, and business process management.

Nexus: G-WEBCD2