As women and men march all over the world to stand up for women’s rights, I thought this would be a good time to share my thoughts and tips on striving to be a successful woman in business. As a female Director at Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf & Spa, I have faced challenges, just like any man, but in a world where general perceptions are on the cusp of change, it is crucial to spread the word that anything is possible, regardless of whether you are a man or a woman.
Balancing work and home is achievable, but the key word is balance
When you really care about your business it’s difficult not to want to be in involved in every aspect. Simultaneously, it’s still not uncommon for gender expectations for women to be prevalent in terms of child-rearing and domestic chores. On top of that, it’s natural for you to desire some time out.
As a woman in business you can find yourself involved in a complex juggling act between your business, your family, and yourself – and feel obliged to be 100% perfect in every one of your roles. But beware, you may be stacking your plate very high and the pressure you mount on yourself could easily lead to burn out, both mentally and physically. The key is to keep strict schedules and sometimes actually force yourself to take time off to make sure you have a chance to relax. Personally, I am now trying to ensure that I take Fridays off whenever possible to play golf or tennis with my friends and have some “me” time – even if it means occasionally catching up with work in the evenings!
It may be tempting to take your phone everywhere, but it helps to set some ground rules to keep you from spending 24 hours with your nose in your business. For example, I make a habit of turning my phone off in the evening when I see my family. If you can’t bear to actually power down, at least place it in a different room so it’s ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
“My Mother is my greatest inspiration. She had limitless energy, enthusiasm and passion for following her dreams…”
Take Advantage of those Who Inspire You – Whoever They May Be
Historically there have been only a few inspirational women entrepreneurs (this, however, is changing – which I love). Sometimes, zoning in on someone you admire in the business world, and asking yourself “what would so-and-so do?” can be the difference between having the tenacity to succeed, or not. It can be someone whose products you admire, or a high-profile entrepreneur who you think makes savvy decisions – or even better, someone you know.
For me, it’s my mother, Devora Peake (founder of both our family-owned Boxford Suffolk Farms and Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf & Spa). She has always been my greatest inspiration. She had limitless energy, enthusiasm and passion for following her dreams and together with my dad they created an amazing enterprise – which included the Copella apple juice brand (now owned by Tropicana UK) -from their inspired ideas, sheer hard work, and borrowed money! Nothing would deter her from achieving her goals, however difficult they often were. She was a very courageous entrepreneur.
“Remember, successful people don’t get to where they are by pretending to be anyone else…”
Remember Who You are and What You Believe In
As a business woman you may find yourself walking into corporate situations where you are (or perceive yourself to be) surrounded by mostly men. I am pleased to say that many of the directors and managers at Stoke by Nayland Hotel are women. Clearly, however, entrepreneurship is for everyone – men included! The temptation, though, when you find yourself in this situation, is to mirror the behaviour around you. Sometimes this can make you feel like you need to adopt a stereotypically male approach in the way you act. Perhaps being more competitive, harsher, and more aggressive. But remember, successful people don’t get to where they are by pretending to be anyone else, and ultimately you will be projecting a ‘false’ you. Be yourself and trust your instincts. You’ll be so much happier in your business life and in your own skin knowing that you did what was right for you. I always say we must be true to ourselves. I also always say that life is too short, so take every possible opportunity to make the most of it while you can!
If my thoughts have been helpful to you, please feel free to share this post – and if you have any ideas you can share about your own experiences of being a female entrepreneur or business woman please don’t hesitate to comment!