On Becoming a Businesswoman… Advice from Her Dad
I just read that 60% of Americans hope to own their own business, but only 10% do. Women world-wide and over 60 may be similar.
A successful European businessman, Patrick Gruhn, recently published a fine book, Good Business, written primarily for his daughter. Though she is not likely now over 60, his ideas apply to would-be entrepreneurs of all ages.
Gruhn favors cooperation versus competition in business. Believing that women tend toward nurture, men toward battle, he wants more women in entrepreneurial positions. Written daily over a period of 500 days, his book seems to have over a thousand good ideas. We’ll explore some here.
Generate Value for Others and for Yourself
Fundamentally, business is the exchange of value for value. "Ultimately, by creating value for others, you will create wealth for yourself." To do so, you need to have a vision. You should have a passion for your work. Look for the area of overlap between their needs and your skills.
Gruhn quotes Steve Jobs, “It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” Jobs’s premature death only underlines this. Allocate your time to what matters most. Pace yourself. Life’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Strategy: Playing the Long Game
“Play your life like a game of chess.” Plan ahead. To thrive in the long run, reduce friction. Minimize unnecessary conflict. Avoid micromanagement of others.
We are advised to hedge our bets, not put all our eggs in one basket. However, having too many irons in the fire means none gets really hot.
You’ll often hear, “Don’t throw good money after bad.” Not your investment, but what your prospects are, really counts. The same goes for your “investment” in personal relationships.
Be Prepared for the Changing Tides
The late U.S. President John F. Kennedy noted, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” At high tide, it is hard to distinguish the true winners from the others. “It is only when the tide goes out that you can see who’s been swimming without shorts.”
Stick to it. Be reliable in speed, quality, and outcome of your efforts. Say what you’ll do and do what you say.
Eleventh-century British King Canute is said to have demonstrated to his fawning courtiers that even he could not control the tides.
Heed the maxim, “This, too, will pass.” No trend lasts forever. Stay lean. Minimize debt to reduce the risk of going broke.
Don’t Limit Yourself
Much of our limits are due to hypnosis. Clear your mind. “When the student is ready, the master will appear, and when the master is ready, the student will appear,” Gruhn quotes. Readiness is key.
Gruhn urges you to stand out: “They laughed at me because I was different. I laughed at them because they were all the same.” He advises his readers to accept advice only from those who have truly succeeded.
What’s Your Management Style: Hard or Soft?
Perhaps a woman will usually be more comfortable with being relatively non-confrontational, although if you are naturally tough, you can go with that style. However, a softer approach has its strengths and is less wearing on its practitioner and its recipients.
Gruhn writes, “…effective leadership hinges on your ability to make people choose to follow you.” Else, you have to rely on command, a subset of force. With orders, you get at best what is ordered, neither more nor less.
At Work: Be Effective! Be Efficient!
Effective is getting it done. Efficient is getting it done economically. Ideally, you’d be efficiently effective. The adage “haste makes waste” alerts us to the tension between speed and quality.
Information: Dig for the Words You Need to Hear
People will give compliments freely. They rarely give criticism, especially to those above them or those from whom they hope to get favors. Dig for the diamonds of truth. Collect information and opinions, but weigh opinions carefully, considering the motives of those who offer them.
Building a successful business will require making connections that are not immediately apparent. “Think of making a deal like having a dance. Someone is going to lead and the other is going to follow, and you better make sure that it is you who leads and be very careful not to step on anyone's toes when you do it. The reputation of the bad dancer usually spreads quickly, and you might find yourself standing in the corner alone with nobody to dance with."
As Frank Sinatra Sang, “Luck, Be a Lady”
Luck plays a role in success, sometimes a big role. But to become you’ve got to be playing in the game, “you’ve got to be in it to win it,” as the New York State Lottery slogan goes. An unknown source wrote, “The harder I work, the luckier I become.”
Having Prospered, Give Appropriately
Once you’ve got enough, be generous! Avoid the takers, embrace the makers, doers, earners and sharers. As for your own friends and loved ones, empower growth, don’t enable dependency.
The Good Life
“The paradox is that we work towards having the good life, but then we get too busy to enjoy it,” Gruhn warns. You have to work out the right balance for yourself.
“Life is not all about business. It’s not all about work and it’s not all about money.” Though money is nice, “achievement is its own reward.” Seek to be proud of the person you see in the mirror.
Questions: What business have you considered running? What have you done to get started? Please join in the conversation.
Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., is a former Harvard science professor. He still publishes, and he helps others write and publish their books via his http://WriteYourBookWithMe.com. His life's central theme has been his half-century romance with his wife, Tina Su Cooper, quadriplegic for over a decade due to multiple sclerosis, now receiving 24/7 nursing care at home, care discussed at their website here.
Published in somewhat edited form at
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