There has been an increasingly serious trend of women leaving the workforce. Between 2015 and 2020, women left the workforce at lower rates than men; but by 2020, almost a quarter of women considered leaving the world of work altogether, according to McKinsey. What was the reasoning behind this? It is likely that many female professionals felt burned out, exhausted and under greater pressure to perform than their male colleagues, especially mothers and wives in senior positions.
Regardless of the unfortunate causes underlying this female-led workforce exodus, an exciting opportunity lies within: These trained and experienced women have the opportunity to start over, create their own businesses, find a form new career freedom and open doors for other women who choose. a similar path.
I speak directly to this need. Fresh out of college, I ignored my lack of experience and money to build a business as a financial advisor. I would have fallen without the mentors who supported me and gave me advice.
In my current role as a company integrator, which requires me to train business owners so that they can pass on their skills to other entrepreneurs to run their business operating systems, I focus on one part particular of female professionals. I focus on helping women who are considering leaving their current positions—whether that’s leaving the workforce, a current career, or just a certain job—and starting on new paths.
Many of these individuals decide, like I once did, to become their own bosses. For those with experience in senior corporate roles, business coaching may seem like the next logical step. Of course, even with relevant experience, women entering business coaching should keep a few key points in mind.
Don’t worry about your appearance
When I was starting out, one of my biggest concerns was trying to look nice and polished at all times. It took me years to learn how to be real, raw, honest and vulnerable. Hopefully, you’ll learn this lesson sooner than I did—letting go of holding on to a certain self-image leaves you open to admitting your weaknesses and lowers mental barriers to asking for help. Be authentically yourself and don’t feel like you’re wasting someone else’s time reaching out to others: Mentoring and coaching offers both parties some CEOs call “career currency,” or a benefit that extends to both mentor and mentee. This type of currency translates into increasing the ability of both people to lead.
So my advice to women and any individual looking to change industries is to try to make connections, ask questions, and seek real-world experience outside of your comfort zone.
Reading a leadership book or watching a webinar won’t create as much impact as connecting with people and asking questions. With a real person, you can get answers to questions like: “How does this work? Why does this matter? What are the benefits and drawbacks of these processes?”
I emphasize the need to stay curious and interested in people, and allow this to take the pressure off worrying about how you might be perceived as you learn.
Embrace breadth over depth
A mentor once told me that I was “a jack of all trades” and “a master of none.” At first I was offended, thinking that this meant that I had no special talent. However, I eventually realized that he was identifying and acknowledging my unique ability as a cross-contextual and industry-spanning learner.
In other words, I am a generalist, but this is a strength that has given me multiple perspectives to offer. As an integrator, I needed to understand all levels of an organization at a high enough level to make sure they could work together harmoniously. This basis of understanding often begins with my extensive background.
Embracing a more holistic attitude has also helped me shake off perfectionist tendencies, which can be a huge detriment to our productivity and long-term success. Not to mention that mastered skills release less dopamine than new talents. Striving for breadth has kept me happier and encouraged me to try new approaches and successfully innovate tactics. But even if you happen to specialize in one discipline, you can’t go wrong by learning how to apply it to other sectors and professions. As a business coach, you’ll probably work with teams that don’t come from the same professional background that you do – and having pockets of knowledge in multiple areas can be a huge asset.
Multiply your company’s forecasts
When starting a business, you likely underestimate your needs, from your initial budget to staffing expectations. I recommend listing all your needs (for example, time, resources, money, team members) and then tripling all those estimates. Moving into a business coaching career means your time investment isn’t just up to you. Business development is a group effort, so overestimate how much time it can take to both acquire new customers and help them implement best business practices.
Keep in mind that you will face unforeseen challenges, so even the best business plan should include a pencil pad and contingencies. After all, cash crunch is the main reason startups lose steam. You may need to save a nest egg to live for up to a year. If you don’t have enough savings, you can gain access to financing through loans, credit unions, or pledges from friends and family.
After all? You need a business development plan for parts A, B and C of your company’s future. Put uncertainty into your first business plan and don’t expect that plan to get you through the startup phase. The risk multiplier also applies to reviewing that plan: Tap multiple reviewers for feedback and review your plan often to keep calling it. About 20% of businesses fail within the first year and about half fail in the fifth year. As a female business owner, your job is to stay adaptable to change and maintain your foundation for more exponential growth.
Kelly Knight has been integrative in EOS worldwide since 2016. She is driven to find and nurture other talented people and guide them to reach their maximum potential.