Introducing the new Telegraph Wonder Women business expert, entrepreneur Carrie Green. Ahead of her first interactive Twitter surgery next week, she explains why there’s never been a more important time for women to communicate about work
We all love reading about amazing, inspiring women who have started their companies from the comfort of their own homes. It’s tempting to think, ‘Lucky them’. Who wouldn’t want to work in the garden on a sunny day, or (whisper it) in their pyjamas?
But, the truth is: business can sometimes be a lonely place. That’s why there’s never been a more important time to connect with others in the same situation .
Over the past decade, I have run three businesses. I started my first at the age of 19, when my money ran out in the first year of university. There have been many ups and downs since then. But I wouldn’t have survived any of it with my support network of like-minded women.
Frankly, I need them. They help keep me sane and moving in the right direction. And they’ll happily listen to me waffle on for hours about my challenges, or successes.
That support is vital, whether you’re starting your own business, or tackling challenges in the workplace. And it’s why I founded the Female Entrepreneur Association – an online hub designed to bring women together, inspire them and help them make their ideas a reality.
With more and more women venturing into the world of business, now is the perfect time to start connecting and talking to each other as Telegraph Wonder Women’s new ‘Work’ section aims to do. We need to create a community.
But this isn’t just about making new friends, women can seriously help each other to succeed and here are 3 reasons why.
1. It can be isolating
We live in the age of the online business. All you need is a great idea, a laptop, an internet connection and you’re good to go. We can all be entrepreneurs – it’s easier than ever.
The opportunities are amazing. But working in a virtual world can have its downsides – loneliness being one of them. There are often no colleagues to chat to, no office parties and no after work socials. It’s just a case of ‘me, myself and I’.
This is why it’s more important than ever that you connect with like-minded women in business. You need to surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through – and who can help you to succeed.
There are lots of fantastic online and offline networks for women in business, so tap into them and start building your network. Organise Skype chats, meet up for a coffee or a glass of wine and build up your support network. Everyone is in the same boat and will be keen to make new contacts. You don’t have to be alone in business.
Here are two networks to get your started…
Online network: Female Entrepreneur Association, where you can mingle with female entrepreneurs from all over the world
Offline network: Forward Ladies, where you can arrange to meet up regularly with like-minded women
2. Women do business differently
Studies have shown all manner of ‘differences’ between men and women at work. Some of these are: that women are motivated to start a business by family, not money; that we overthink things; that we can be held back by a lack of confidence ; and that we can’t delegate, instead trying to do everything ourselves.
While these findings are not true for all of us, many of them ring true for me. I’m constantly on an emotional rollercoaster – one minute I love being an entrepreneur, the next I want to hide under my duvet and cry. I have definitely struggled with confidence and delegating is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. After all, my business is my baby.
But everyone is different. What goes for one woman, won’t for the next. That’s why it’s great to have a number of varying personalities, with different coping strategies, in your court.
While I love hearing advice from my male counterparts, nothing beats getting moral support from a fellow female entrepreneur. They really understand the ups and downs and they actually want to talk about it. Having that support network of women in business is actually quite therapeutic. As I woman I know that my primary focus in business is to make a difference – and part of that means talking to, and helping, other women.
3. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel
When you’re building a business there’s so much to do and even though we’d love to have all of the answers, we don’t. This can be hard to grasp.
I remember for a long time feeling like I should be able to do it all. I worked so hard before figuring out that wasn’t the case. What a mistake. I was trying so hard to reinvent the wheel, when I really didn’t need to waste my time.
If only I’d realised that there were plenty of people out there that were just like me – and who had figured it out long ago and were happy to act as ‘mentors’ .
Now, whenever I’m struggling for the answers, I ask my network. The more people you can connect with and build relationships with, the better. They can help you reach your goals so much faster. That’s the thing: people actually want to help you.
So, reach out, connect and start a conversation. There’s no need to go it alone.
Carrie Green will take over the Telegraph Wonder Women Twitter account to host her first ‘surgery’ next Tuesday, July 29, at 2pm – and every Tuesday at 2pm thereafter.
Look out for more details on Twitter at TeleWonderWomen and join us for the chance to put your questions to one of Britain’s most exciting young entrepreneurs.
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