In May this year, I was fortunate to be one of 28 entrepreneurs from around the world invited to spend a week on Richard Branson’s private retreat, Necker Island, otherwise known as the ‘entrepreneur’s paradise’.
As a serial entrepreneur, philanthropist and champion for female entrepreneurs, Branson has long been a hero of mine. Interestingly, though, the delegation I attended was male-dominated, with only 11 out of the 28 being women. To me, this is indicative of the ever-prevalent gap in business between women leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators and their male counterparts. This is a global issue that impacts everyone — including men.
After 8 years of running my own business, Manning & Co, and then founding its sister company, Gemstar Technology, I’ve seen more and more female entrepreneurs and innovators shake up the business world — even in traditionally male-dominated fields like STEM. However, there are not enough of these women.
Here are my 5 key learnings about female entrepreneurs, based on my own experiences and my time at Necker.
1. Surround yourself with positive people
Every woman deserves to feel valued and supported. When you dare to be different, there is no point being around negative people who bring you down. To quote Branson, “When they say you can’t, they show their limits, not yours.” By surrounding yourself with positive people, you can stay ahead of the game, supported by an energetic network.
Women don’t tend to network enough — there’s a lack of female speakers at business forums and networking events. We need to be seen and heard. Develop your own profile by meeting and greeting people with confidence. Networking is a great way to promote your profile and skills. The possibilities are endless.
3. Speak out
Don’t be afraid to speak out about your achievements. Be bold and daring. As a woman leader in business, you are strong and capable — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Your opinions and achievements are hugely valuable to the business world. We need more women like you, so speak out. Never be afraid to voice your opinions, because they matter.
4. Be yourself
Don’t try to be someone you’re not. For diversity in business to truly take place and for great ideas to become reality, we need difference in views and thinking. So be authentic and true to yourself, not only as an individual, but as a woman. The road to success can only be paved if you are true to yourself, your dreams and passions.
5. Trust your instincts
During my career, I have been derailed, with people convincing me to move away from my core ideas. And I listened to them, believing that my male superiors would know better. However, I’ve learnt to trust my instincts. Since doing this, I’ve made leaps and bounds with my second business and have a third non-profit business, Light Years, in the works. Trusting yourself is crucial to carving an authentic and cutting-edge business profile.
Read the full article in The CEO Magazine.