Navigating the Journey: Empowering Women Entrepreneurs
Explore how cultural and societal expectations of women can impact women entrepreneurs on their journeys as business leaders.
In this webinar, recorded during Women’s History Month and created in partnership with Found/LA, business and career coach Elaine Lou Cartas shares her expertise on the unique challenges women entrepreneurs face as they navigate their way to business world success. Explore how cultural and societal expectations of women in the supporting role can impact your journey as a female business leader and learn strategies to overcome these obstacles. Discover how to create a healthy work-life balance by asking for help, setting boundaries, and taking care of yourself. Gain valuable insights into negotiating strategies and scripts specifically tailored to women, empowering you to effectively communicate your value and secure the best deals for your business.
Elaine Lou Cartas is the founder of the Color Your Dreams Movement™. Elaine is a business and career coach for women of color and allies around the globe. Elaine was just featured in Apple News as one of the top 5 business coaches, and featured in LA Weekly as the #1 Thought Leader to follow for 2023. With 10+ years of experience, Elaine specializes in inspiring and supporting business owners to create their dream business, a purposeful lifestyle, and their legacy.
Elaine’s Top Tips for Women Entrepreneurs:
Learn to Say No and hold your boundries
First, why do women feel obligated to say yes all the time? Women are often raised to play a supporting role as caregivers for family and friends. The societal acceptance of women earning money independent of a family-context is relatively new. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which allowed women to open their own bank accounts and apply for credit without their husbands co-signature, was only enacted in 1974. Five decades later, women have made huge strides in the workforce and entrepreneurial landscape, so why do so many women still feel like the world might stop if we don’t answer an email immediately or take on this last minute project? Elaine believes it’s because most unpaid tasks, like household chores and emotional labor, still fall on the shoulders of women, perpetuating the social expectation of a supportive woman who always says yes.
But saying no sometimes is important. Not only does it allow you maintain your hierarchy of priorities and improves your mental health, it also helps other to understand what they can reasonably expect from you. Part of saying no means setting and holding your boundaries, both in your professional and personal relationships. Once you set a boundary, don’t feel obligated to over-explain or give an excuse. Be polite and firm. One of Elaine’s favorite methods is the “thank you sandwich,” where you thank someone for the opportunity (or message or invitation), hold your boundary, and thank them again while reaffirming your continued and future interest in the topic.
Saying no is valuable to personal and professional achievements, but how do you determine what to say no to?
Balance Your Life
Determining your priorities can help you understand what you should keep saying yes to and what you should start saying no to. From formal SMART goals to a sticky note on your fridge, there are thousands of goal setting techniques for you and your business to help you determine your priorities and reach your goals. Elaine recommends the Life Balance Worksheet for her clients who, like so many women entrepreneurs, want to have it all and need to prioritize what is most important to them. Make time for what matters and let go of what doesn’t.
Check in With Yourself
Regularly make time to step back from your busy everyday task to check in with yourself and your family. Take a few minutes to look back on the past week, celebrate your wins, and acknowledge any challenges you faced. Then, look towards the coming week and make a plan. This could look like a conversation about logistics: “I have a late meeting on Thursday, can you make dinner?” or “I’ll pick the kids up on Monday so you can go to the gym.” Or the conversation could be about making a plan for improvement based on the past week. Be honest and realistic with yourself and your partner or family during these conversations. Communicate your needs clearly and honestly and don’t forget to schedule time for self-care. Taking just 15 minutes a day to reflect and plan can have a huge impact on your productivity and happiness.
Protect All of Your Identities
You are more than just your job. You are a hot yogi, a runner, a partner, an daughter, an aunt, or whatever else you identify with. You are allowed to be all of these things and more. Work with yourself and your family to make time for you to practice and express your identities. Sometimes life will be busy and you will have to choose between your identities and that’s ok. Tools like the Life Balance Worksheet can help you determine what’s most important for you.
Ask for Help
Ask for help when you need it. If you don’t know something yourself, who do you know who you can ask? If you need help around the house, ask your network for help. As Elaine reminds us, you don’t have to pay for all kinds of help, either. Sometimes a like-kind exchange, a batch of cookies, or other creative agreements, can get you the help you need.
Elaine also recommends getting a therapist. As she put it, “at every new level, there’s a new devil.” Seeing a therapist can help you to reconcile the challenges that come with owning your own small business, while celebrating your achievements and working towards your next goal.
Don’t be Afraid of Difficult Conversations
In your personal and professional life, don’t be afraid of difficult conversations. Whether you need to provide honest and constructive feedback to someone related to your business, you need to vulnerably communicate your needs to your partner, or someone is sharing constructive feedback with you, difficult conversations can be anxiety inducing. This is especially true for women entrepreneurs who might be used to playing a supporting role. It’s important to remember that difficult doesn’t mean bad. Difficult conversations can have productive results, like your needs being met or making a positive change in your business based on feedback. Embrace the challenge and use constructive conversations to help you reach your goals.
Remember, you Define Your Own Success and Happieness
You and you alone get to define what success means and only you can identify what makes you happy. Take time to reflect and use the tools available to you to reach your goals and become who you want to be.
Want to hear more from Elaine? Sign up for a one-on-one coaching session with Elaine as part of AOF’s coaching hub. Coaching sessions with all of our expert coaches are always free. Check out Elaine’s Color Your Dreams Podcast for more inspirational tips for women entrepreneurs.