At an inspiring sales seminar I was once asked if I thought sales techniques were taught or if we were born with them? I assumed that the most persuasive selling skills were learned over time so I was surprised to learn that we are all born with them – life just knocks them out of us!
We considered a toddler who wants a something. If the toddler’s parent says no it’s often the case (I can personally vouch for this) that the toddler will ask ,
“If not now, then when?” “If I eat my apple will I get the biscuit after?” “Pleeaasse…”
The questions will continue as will the persuasive body language and, if all else fails, the bully techniques of a tantrum – sound familiar? Forget the books and costly seminars – if you’re looking for winning selling techniques look no further than the next toddler.
I consider women’s enterprise in a similar way. Are women innately enterprising in their approach to business or do they have to learn the techniques that men have developed over decades of gender separation within the area of work? Has the Western tradition of men leaving home to carry out work while, women remain in the domestic space, allowed a patriarchal definition of business to be consider the societal norm? In my own experience it has been inspiring to begin a business and recognise that my people-centred character can be an advantage when building a company. Yes I’ve had to learn a whole load of skills, and gaining that knowledge has sometimes been painful, yet those skills have now been added to my valuable female perspective of business.
But can I categorically claim that my approach to business is a female one? I am a woman so in essence it has to be, but I don’t think that it’s limited to women and I don’t believe that it encompasses all women. As individuals, we will all have a unique approach to how we build our companies and develop business strategies, regardless of our gender. The important factor for me is that I have confidence in how I develop my business and that I enjoy the person that I am becoming.
Naturally my final analogy of women’s enterprise has a sartorial slant. This column bangs on ad nauseum about the importance of ensuring that our clothes are unique to us, that we are confident in what we choose to wear to work, that our clothes are allowed to scream,
“I’m a stickler for detail!” or “I’m creative so don’t try to pigeon-hole me!”
We must not allow anyone else to persuade us to dress (in their eyes) like a man, or a woman, in business. Being at ease with how we dress, not defensive or antagonistic, is a very strong marketing ploy for our own personal brands. And giving individuals the confidence in who they are, their own principles and abilities, is vital to building enterprise. If women have got to catch up on a century or two of working for nothing in the home environment then they may require a greater boost of confidence. But once enough women recognise that their way of doing business is the best way, whichever way that individual may choose, then I bet my shirt that women’s enterprise will have a far greater effect on our economy (or my blouse, or my vest top, or my fine knitwear, or my poncho… whatever I’m feeling confident to wear that day).