I’m a Holistic Health Advisor who has been educated in Elemental Reflexology, Polarity Therapy, and Reiki. I make feelings-guided decisions, and I occasionally put off tasks because I haven’t had time to process my comfort/discomfort surrounding said tasks. In short — I’m not the high-heeled wearing, Ivanka Trump-esque, “lean in” type woman. I’m not your typical entrepreneur.
However, I am an entrepreneur and I firmly believe that we emotionally aware, intuitively driven women are lacking a much needed representation in the discussion of women in business. This is most likely due to the fact that we rarely toot our own horns. We may not fit the stereotypical power woman, but we are starting companies, making money, and firmly clinging to our need to make our customers’ lives better.
For those women who can relate, I’d like to share some lessons learned from my experience providing alternative therapies and products.
1. Embrace Your “Inner You”
Before starting my company, I had only come across women who had started businesses and fulfilled the power woman narrative. When I asked for advice on pursuing a new career or starting a company, I often found suggestions for business classes that didn’t resonate with me or was brushed off as the “non-businessy” type. For a long time I believed the rhetoric that only a certain type of woman could break the proverbial glass ceiling, and unless I became that type of woman, the world of business wasn’t for me.
This is simply not true. I found that once I embraced who I was and focused on my interests and needs and stopped listening to conventional advice (“You need to have a business plan!” “You need to focus on profitability above all else!”), the ideas that would lead to an obvious business plan and natural profitability came easily because they were ideas that were authentic to me and my experiences. By embracing who I was without guilt, I found that I could use my strengths as they were and find ways to work around my weaknesses instead of trying to change those weaknesses.
2. Find a Community to Support You and Your Needs
By embracing myself as I am, my perceived weaknesses became less of a detriment and more of a fact that could be easily worked around. I used my strengths to come up with new and original products and then identified the places where I wasn’t naturally suited to the tasks at hand. For example, legal compliance with labeling laws, incorporation, setting up and maintaining an online store — these are things that don’t come naturally to me.
When I accepted that I had no interest in doing those tasks, it opened me up to partnerships that improved my entire business and allowed me to flourish. For example, my long time friend is a typical business-minded woman, so I enlisted her help to get those tasks completed. In return, she brought more insight and knowledge than expected and allows me to focus on what I do well.
3. Leverage Your Strengths
I view my personality as an asset now that I’ve embraced it. Where other women see only dollar signs (or lack thereof), I can see ways to connect with people on an individual basis and improve their lives in new ways. Because I view each client as a person rather than an opportunity for profit, I tend to produce much higher quality products and services, which contributes to my positive reputation.
In terms of partnerships, I find connections fall in my lap where others have to work for them. Instead of discussing how we can immediately profit from one another, I connect with other women on a personal level and naturally fall into discussions on collaboration after having already established a deep personal bond over things that may not be directly business related.
Overall, I think it’s important that we recognize the many women in business who prefer sneakers to heels and value emotions and personal connections more than profit margins. While our path to business success may not be the norm, it is a legitimate path that should be celebrated rather than dismissed. As women, I believe it’s our responsibility to empower all of our fellow entrepreneurs and businesswomen to succeed as the individuals they are, not as we think they should be.
About the Author
Melinda Mickshaw is a Holistic Health Advisor who started The Relievery, a company that provides reflexology socks, oil blends, and educational materials to pregnant and postpartum women.