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Women Entrepreneurs and Relationships
Let’s Talk About Women and Our Relationships
Often switching instantly from one role to another to yet another throughout the day, female entrepreneurs must become adept at managing their distinctly separate relationships – from one moment to the next, sometimes instantaneously. While this ongoing Clark-Kent-becomes-Superman evolution may seem difficult at times, strategies exist for handling it well.
A recent study from Jane Out of the Box, an authority on female entrepreneurs, reveals there are five distinct types of women in business. Based on professional market research of more than 2,500 women in business, this study shows that each type of business owner has a unique approach to running a business and to handling the other details of her life – and therefore each one has a unique combination of needs. This article outlines two of the five types and provides tips for making the most of their relationships.
Tenacity Jane is an entrepreneur with an undeniable passion for her business, and one who tends to be struggling with cash flow. As a result, she’s working longer hours, and making less money than she’d like. Nevertheless, Tenacity Jane is bound and determined to make her business a success. At 31% of women in business, Tenacity Janes make up the largest group of female entrepreneurs.
While Tenacity Jane’s passion is what will lead to her business’ strength and growth over time, it also may get in the way of her forming healthy relationships while she is working so hard at the business.
• In business: Tenacity Jane wants so badly for her business to succeed that she sometimes ends up bending over backwards for difficult clients, putting her own needs on the backburner. Not only will this habit drain her business resources (as she pours time and therefore money into clients that will take as much as they can get), but it also will drain her emotional reserves as she struggles to satisfy clients who simply will not be satisfied – to the point of her own exhaustion. Therefore, Tenacity Jane must set limits for herself with her clients. If she feels like a relationship with a client or colleague is draining, and she cannot satisfy the client or colleague, she must consider ending that professional relationship. Ending a draining relationship will provide Tenacity Jane with more energy and time resources to seek new, healthy clients that are beneficial for both parties.
• At home: Again, because Tenacity Jane has so much passion for her business, she runs the risk of neglecting her personal relationships. In addition, because Tenacity Jane often lacks focus and is working on several ideas or projects at once, she may believe she doesn’t have time for rest or relaxation – and that can be frustrating for the people who love her. By finding focus in her business, Tenacity Jane can better manage her time – and she can then challenge herself to make more time for the important relationships in her life.
Go Jane Go is passionate about her work and provides excellent service, so she has plenty of clients – so much so, she’s struggling to keep up with demand. At 14% of women in business, she may be a classic overachiever, taking on volunteer opportunities as well, because she’s eager to make an impact on the world and she often struggles to say no. Because she wants to say yes to so many people, she may even be in denial about how many hours she actually works during the course of a week. As a result, she may be running herself ragged and feeling guilty about neglecting herself and others who are important to her.
Go Jane Go, the epitome of a people person, is as generous as anyone could possibly be – whether it’s by offering her time as a volunteer or running a business designed to help people. So while it may seem like relationships should come easily to this fantastically people-oriented entrepreneur, her generosity may cause a few challenges.
• In business: Go Jane Go takes business very personally, which results in a double-sided relationship coin. The positive side: her employees and team members often feel valued, appreciated and listened to. The challenges: She may hire someone she really likes even if that individual is underqualified for the job. She also may work unceasingly to provide opportunities for an employee who always claims to be interested but never follows through. In cases such as these, Go Jane Go must work to think of business as business, so she doesn’t drain her own resources trying to help others.
• At home: Go Jane Go is committed to everything she does. She is committed to her business, her volunteer opportunities, and her friends and family. She undoubtedly will put others before herself, every time. Although this may work for a while, she eventually will end up feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Plus, if one person in a relationship is always giving, the relationship is not built on a strong, two-way foundation, and will eventually risk crumbling. To remedy this, Go Jane Go must carefully examine her own needs – and then make sure they are met. She should schedule time for herself into her calendar (and honor it), and she also should take turns with her spouse, children and friends when choosing restaurants, movies or other leisure-time activities – and when making more important decisions.
Each type of female entrepreneur exhibits her own natural tendencies as she participates in relationships, just as she does in running her business. While some of those tendencies may result in relationship challenges, the good news is that with a little extra work, every entrepreneur can learn to create a balance that leads to harmonious, healthy relationships.
Michele DeKinder-Smith is the founder of Jane out of the Box, an online resource dedicated to the women entrepreneur community.