For women, the entrepreneurial landscape has some tough challenges. They derive mostly from a culture which has not matured to the point where male and female entrepreneurs and executives are represented equally. Today, many business and employment coaches recognize the need for change, and are focusing on issues related to communication and gender.
The entrepreneur’s ability to communicate can be broken down into five main skills:
- You must know how to sell. Self-confidence, attitude, discipline, etc. are all important attributes when it comes to being a good sales person - and some people seem to be born with them. What’s often missing are the tactics used to make a pitch and complete a sale. Of course, being prepared with a thorough knowledge of your product or service will be your best defense against those who will challenge it.
There are numerous books and courses on sales training. Although some sales people are self-taught, you can save some time and effort by pursuing something more structured, like a Sandler Training course. It is a well known and trusted source for learning about sales tactics. It’s been around since 1967. They have regular in-person courses as well as books and audio recordings for self-study. Ask an experienced salesperson; if they haven’t taken the course, they’ve probably heard of it.
- You must live the ‘publish or perish’ mentality. Entrepreneurs can’t be ghosts. They need to be noticed; if for no other reason than to find collaborators and investors. Those who are your potential allies want to know more about you. Entrepreneurship often leads to a community of like-minded people, and it’s in your best interest to find way to become known to them.
The temptation of spending another day setting-up the nuts and bolts of your operation often leads you away from the necessary task of creating meaningful content so as to become noticed by others.
- You must be willing to speak in public. Starting a business takes nerve and dogged determination. There are people willing to face any challenge to see that their business succeeds, but might pass out by the thought of speaking in public. Although more women than men suffer from speech anxiety, the phobia of public speaking affects both men and women equally. When they learn to cope with public speaking anxiety, they do so together. Toastmasters, for example, have been around for a long time and are known to be very effective. Interestingly, they conduct exercises where women speak to an all-male audience and men speak to an all-female audience.
One very unscientific remedy worth mentioning is from Lady Bird Johnson, who was quoted as saying “The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.” That’s easy to imagine in the context of the entrepreneur.
- You must be able to validate others. It sounds cliche but, it’s absolutely true: Validating others comes easily to those who believe in themselves. They can acknowledge the achievements of others - even their competition. That will likely be seen as an admirable quality to their peers.
Likewise, expressions of empathy or compassion for someone’s loss can leave a powerful and lasting impression on people.
- You must have thick skin. For as much as there are allies from which to build long-lasting relationships, there are others who will neither validate your efforts, nor understand when you’re in need. You may stand a chance of being humiliated, intimidated, or even sued. Having a thick skin is a survival skill. It helps you maintain focus at times when it’s most needed. As we all know, your state of mind can have a direct impact on your ability to communicate.
Hilary Smith is an online journalist and entrepreneur with a passion for business. In addition to sharing communication skills of successful entrepreneurs, her writing also covers unified business communications, technology, and the process of globalization.