Their Take: Women in Business – What It’s Really Like

by Dr. Jennifer Charles

As women, we face many challenges in the business world. We must balance being a CEO, mother, wife and friend all at once. It can sometimes be hard to find time for ourselves or our careers. When I first started my own company more than 15 years ago, I had no idea what was waiting for me on the other side of that door! Now that I am successful as CEO of my company, I thought it would be helpful to offer some advice about how women can make it through these challenges with their sanity intact!

Have Good Support Systems

When I first started my business, I was single, dating and living in Downtown Los Angeles. It wasn’t easy trying to not bring the extreme amount of stress I was under into my personal life. Fortunately, I had a strong support system of friends and family that I could turn to when dealing with the frustrations of managing a business.

Sometimes there are things you don’t know that you don’t know. For example, there are increasing regulations and burdens put on small businesses. Every quarter, I not only got a huge tax bill but penalties for not filing on time. The truth is that the government does not accept “not knowing” as an excuse. Having a great system for staying organized can help you tremendously. You don’t have to be that smart or organized if your system is.

Be Okay That Some Won’t Respect You

It’s no secret that women make less than men and have a harder time getting the same level of respect as men in the workplace. Often, that becomes even harder when you must employ them. I remember walking in on a guy asleep at his shift. This wasn’t the first time and I had already had a talk with him about the importance of his job. This was the last straw, so I fired him. He looked at me and said “OK, now I finally respect you,” as I handed him his last check.

At that moment, I realized that some people will never respect me and it’s not worth it to try to win their respect, either. The only thing I can do is run my company the best I can and the people who resonate with my mission will show up and stay.

Understanding That Beauty Standards Still Apply

Although beauty is subjective, it still applies in the business world. Studies show that people are more likely to buy from companies where the CEO is attractive. Most business owners — regardless of gender — are usually stressed from late nights thinking about their business, which is understandable given the amount of pressure business owners carry. Sometimes anything beyond a shower and shave can seem like an indulgence. When comparing women’s and men’s grooming, women spend considerably more money and time to look “business polished.” This is an unfortunate tax on women, but if you have a good and understanding accountant you may be able to deduct some of those expenses.

As a woman who is also an entrepreneur, you may be keenly aware of these difficulties firsthand. Being a woman business owner comes with some unique challenges. However, as time goes on, the workplace will become friendlier to women. Traditionally, business ownership was considered something commonly engaged in by men; fortunately, the landscape is changing as more women break down barriers. The past few years have seen a steady climb in the number of women as business owners. But despite the often-uphill battle against sexism and unfair expectations, one thing remains true: The rewards can make up for any hurdles along the way.

Jennifer Charles, Ph.D., is happily married and the inventor of the Boosting Healthy Habits app and owner of Building Block Resolutions. Her company uses applied Behavior Analysis to provide therapy for children with autism, parent coaching for families, and crisis management training for employees.

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