What You Need to Know About Becoming a Successful Business Woman with Sindiswa Thwala

All over the world, women are shattering glass ceilings and proving that they have what it takes to be successful business leaders. Here is some practical advice for becoming a successful businesswoman.

1. Read about successful women: There are many successful career women out there - in business and in other fields. Researching and learning about their background and career paths will help to motivate and inspire you. Reading their stories will give an idea of what the path to success looks like and what obstacles you might encounter along the way.
  • The web is a great resource for researching successful businesswomen. 
  • You can also read the memoirs or biographies of a number of successful women and gain an insight into their professional experiences - both good and bad.

2. Research women in your field: No matter what field you're in, there are sure to be successful women who've paved the way for others. Finding out about successful women in your particular field will give you a better idea of what a typical career path might look like and highlight some practical steps you can take to become successful.
  • Research what schools the women in your field went to, what internships they did, whether they worked abroad, where they got their first job, and any other information regarding their career path. 
  • Figure out what these women did right, then use that knowledge to work out a career plan of your own.
3. Consider a field with fewer women in it: Historically, women have been underrepresented in fields such as science, engineering, technology, mathematics and computer science. 
What You Need to Know About Becoming a Successful Business Woman with Sindiswa Thwala
What You Need to Know About Becoming a Successful Business Woman with Sindiswa Thwala

By pursuing a career in one of these areas, a woman may benefit from certain incentives designed to encourage more women to enter these fields, such as scholarship programs and grants.

4. Determine how to balance work and family: Perhaps the greatest concern for women in the workforce is how to balance work and family life. Women are usually in their key childbearing years while simultaneously trying to advance their career and climb the corporate ladder.
  • Surveys have shown that most women leave their jobs due to caretaking conflicts or workplace climates which are hostile to the demands of parenthood.
  • The best way to ensure a balance between work and family is to find a company which offers a combination of parent-friendly policies such as paid maternity leave, company-sponsored childcare, flexible scheduling, family healthcare benefits and paternity leave.
5. Overcome pay inequality: Despite making fantastic progress in terms of the number of women in the workforce and the proportion of those who go on to reach managerial and executive positions, there is still a long way to go, especially when it comes to equal pay. The frustrating truth is that women earn significantly less than men, for the same work. Although factors such as education or the decision to have a child can affect pay levels, the main problem is that women consistently undervalue themselves and fail to effectively negotiate with employers for higher salaries. 

In order to overcome pay inequality, you should:

  • Do your homework. Find out what other people (men and women), with the same qualifications and in similar positions, are earning.
  • Learn how to negotiate. Once you know your value, you should work on selling your qualifications, skills and achievements. Never undersell yourself. Don't offer a salary figure first, and provide a salary range if you are pressed about it.
  • Never say yes to an offer immediately. Think of the first number they provide as an "initial offer" and continue to negotiate if you feel you are being undervalued.
  • Realize that you are entitled to ask for a raise. If you are already in a job where you feel that your contributions are undervalued, or you find out that a colleague is being paid more for the same work, don't be afraid to ask for a raise. Just be sure to build a convincing case: do your homework and find out the salary range for similar roles both within and outside the company. Be prepared to talk about your positive contributions to the company including any recent successes or problems you have solved. Highlight any positive feedback you have received from others on your team

6. Be confident. Having confidence in yourself and your abilities is essential in becoming a successful businesswoman. People will view you as you portray yourself. If you project confidence, people will believe that you are confident.
  • Self-doubt is natural, but don't let it overwhelm you. Remember that you are where you are because you're good at what you do.
  • Project confidence through your body language. You can do this by standing tall and keeping your head held high. Greet people with a firm handshake and a smile. Most importantly of all, make eye contact with the person you're speaking to. Try not to glance at them before quickly looking away, remember to hold their gaze, as this is a sure sign of confidence. If you have to address a room of people, try to make eye contact with every person in the room for at least a second or two.
  • If you're having a bad day where your confidence feels shaken, try to reassure yourself using positive affirmations. It may feel silly, but looking at yourself in the mirror and repeating something like "I am great at what I do" or "I am determined to reach the top" can really help you to rediscover your confidence and determination.

7. Be assertive. One of the most enduring stereotypes about women in business is that they are weak and emotional. 
The best way to overcome these stereotypes is to disprove them. In order to gain respect as a formidable businesswoman, it is important to be assertive.
  • You can convey assertiveness through both your speech and your actions - have confidence in your decisions and don't second-guess yourself. Speak authoritatively, in a clear, confident manner and people will have no reason to doubt your decisions.
  • When faced with criticism, try to be as rational and collected as possible. Consider what has been said and decide whether you can use the criticism constructively or whether you should just disregard it. Whatever you do, don't let it be a trigger which causes you to doubt yourself and your abilities.

8. Handle criticism well. The capacity to handle criticism and grow from it is a very important aspect of success. However, there is a big difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism. You need to learn how to recognize and handle each of them.
  • Destructive criticism is a comment or accusation designed to hurt your self-esteem. It is not intended to help you or allow you to see what you did wrong and improve on it. An example of destructive criticism would be a coworker saying "How could you be so stupid?" or "What were you thinking?" The best way to deal with this type of criticism is simply to ignore it.
  • Constructive criticism, on the other hand, usually has a good intention behind it. It is intended to help you to improve and should be viewed as a positive. An example of constructive criticism would be: "Thanks for your report. It was a good effort, but I think it could benefit from more statistics to support your findings." The best way to handle this type of criticism is to thank the person for their feedback and to use their comments to improve your work in the future.
Women In Business
Women In Business
Women In Business

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