We can talk endlessly about cash-flow or promotion. I could write another blog on the need to have customers, or I could try and sell my services to you in relation to marketing, social media or content.
But the reality is the majority of female run small businesses and startups face challenges that far outweigh the topics blogs and books can cover.
Our real problems are far harder to stick a label on.
We deal with work related stress
Every day is another situation that needs specific skills. Skills we don’t always have confidence in. There is a customer who needs diffusing like a bomb.
There’s a bunch of bills that remind you the bank account isn’t as healthy as you thought.
Someone is emailing you to ask if you can drop everything to fit them in. Yet another person is emailing you to ask you to drop your carefully calculated prices.
Even on the good days when the sales are strong, the supply chain is strong, the bills are paid, and customers are respectful, there are still a million other things to worry about.
And it’s what most people don’t understand. The challenges we face as business owners can take an incredible toll.
Learning to say no is hard
You’ve read that email about the guy who really needs what you offer but can’t afford your prices. Here you are, on your fourth re-write (or fourth hour of re-writing) the suitable response back.
You are being asked to stand behind your prices or explain why your experience matters. Once again, you’ve got that sick feeling of skipping lunch in order to craft a response that doesn’t show the fatigue at having to answer this question over and over again without sounding angry or annoyed.
You try to sound professional because you understand on some level, but need to stick to your guns in order to protect your business. Yet the guilt is creeping on.
And the more you care about what you offer, the harder it is to say no.
Bad news customers are always bad news
“Do they haggle with the price of sandwiches at the local deli?”
“Do they tell the cake shop to re-open their doors and bake through the weekend so the timeline suits?”
You ponder and you wonder. It truly hurts when you say no to that crummy job. Or the one you thought was awesome turns out to be a complete waste of time on the 8th email.What hurts more is that despite your better instincts, here you are putting in extra hours for lower prices. Opportunity is a word that has lost meaning in the hands of the bad news client.
“Why did you pick me if you thought I wasn’t worth the prices I charge?”
Here, in the dark of the night as your partner sleeps and you hope that you don’t keep them awake with the lights or your working, after you’ve missed an entire weekend of relaxation and been bartered down on price, right before you send the work to the client, you wonder…
“Will I at least get a reasonable response this time?”
Good girl syndrome
Can you relate to any of the situations above? Then I have one piece of advice for you.
Ladies, it’s time we forgot about the guilt and stress associated with other people’s bad behaviour and truly owned our businesses.
You are not responsible for someone else’s poor timing, lack of planning or inadequate budget. It isn’t up to you to solve someone else’s inability to work out how the business world works.
If you are under stress, make time to get your business house in order. If you feel the need to over explain yourself, take a step back. If a customer rings an alarm bell in your head, listen.
Ditch the good girl syndrome. And ditch the bitch syndrome, too.
You don’t need to justify, apologise or demonise someone who is placing undue pressure on you to survive. You can simply, clearly and empathically draw your boundaries. And stick to them. And move on.
Yes, it is that simple. Step away from the excuses and keep walking.
There is only one person who has to deal with the consequences of your actions in business. That person is you.
Valuing yourself, your skills and the time you put into the work you do is the single most empowering thing you can do. It solves 99% of the problems we face. Or at the very least, makes them a heck of a lot easier to deal with.
Don’t you agree?
WORDS BY REBEKAH LAMBERT. Rebekah Lambert makes her living as marketing, content creation and copywriting freelancer, Unashamedly Creative. She is also the head of Disruption for women’s portal, Discordia Zine. Rebekah has just begun a mission to improve the mental health and wellness outcomes for freelancers and entrepreneurs as one half of the Hacking Happinessteam. You can follow her journey via Twitter, Facebookand Google+.
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