It is March 2020 and we are in the middle of a pandemic. This may seem counterintuitive, but I am seriously thinking of hiring a PA.
Like many people I am currently self – isolating and am not out training or coaching as I would be in a typical week. It could be argued that I can do some of the things that are essential to growing my business which I had previously decided to delegate. I considered doing this for a millisecond before rapidly coming to my senses.
My thoughts are these:
- I now have time to think and act strategically in relation to my business. Why give that precious time away?
- I am no better at doing the kinds of tasks that I need help with now than I was before the pandemic started (populating a Client Relationship Management System (CRM), checking copy, updating the website (etc)
- Now more than ever I want to focus on the things that I do uniquely well.
This has led me to reflect on meetings that I had recently with female owners of financial services businesses. They are quite rare people. In 2018, Money Marketing Magazine suggested ‘that female advisers are outnumbered by their male counterparts 6 to 1 and only 3 in 20 Directors are women’.
They have done well, often succeeding in the face of scepticism around them. A common thread I noticed was that, in general, these women chose to take a very cautious approach to developing their business. Fear of being overwhelmed, concerns about balancing family commitments, and knowing they had a lot to prove, seemed to encourage a leaning towards risk aversion.
This trend plays out in the wider business environment. Alison Rose has been the CEO of RBS since November 2019. In her review of female entrepreneurship, she states that:
‘Women do not lack the ability or ambition. Yet only 1 in 3 UK entrepreneurs is female. Female-led businesses are only 44% of the size of male-led businesses on average, in terms of their contribution to the economy, and male SMEs are five times more likely to scale up to £1million turnover than female SMEs’.
This caution can manifest itself in not being prepared to invest money in the business until it is critical to do so. Instead women often invest more and more of their time. This may seem to save money; however, it can restrict the capacity of the business to grow, cause fatigue and put pressure on relationships.
Ideas to increase business confidence
A considered approach in business is a wonderful thing if it is not unduly underpinned by fear. How can we be less fearful in a challenging environment?
- Start with why – understanding why we are in business in the first place can give us the courage to make big decisions and act on them
- Take small steps forward every day – sometimes it is easier if we don’t focus on the elephant
- Network with other business owners – this can be a great source of ideas, advice and reassurance
- Seek professional advice – run your ideas by your accountant, legal representative and bank
- Enhance your business skills – work with a business coach/mentor or attend courses to improve your acumen.
The current environment is likely to exacerbate the freeze response in all of us, women and men alike. How we move forward, in the face of falling income, requires considered thought. Asking ourselves these questions can be helpful:
- What is still important for our business regardless of the current crisis?
- What steps can we take now that ensure our business readiness when the crisis subsides?
- What are the consequences of not taking the steps that are within our control?
The answer may be to not throw the baby out with the bath water.
This is a time to pause, refocus, and carry on.
Thank you for reading this; I hope you have found this article useful.
|Arah Perrett Founder and Ownerhello@arahperrett.co.uk|