As we embark upon the dawn of a new era, it is time to think about how to make your business more powerful and profitable in the new year.
Entrepreneurship is growing among women business owners. The market is filling up with niche ideas, awesome new products and exciting adventures. You can do business as usual, or stand out in a way that attracts lots of new clients, contracts and amazing opportunities.
To ensure that your product or service gets the attention it deserves, consider adding a few tweaks that will make a major difference. The key to lasting success constant improvement. Here are a five ways to make your business stand out and cause success in the new year.
Position Yourself As The Expert In A specific Niche
Instead of being a jack of all trades and a master of none, pick an area to focus your expertise. I had a client that left her job to become a virtual assistant. After about six months on her own, she barely had any traction. During our consultation, I encouraged to specialize in one area. Soon after our meeting she needed a plumber who showed up late and disorganized. And that is when it hit her: to become an assistant to the service industry owners. She rebranded herself as the virtual assistant to plumbers, contractors, lawn care businesses, etc. It was an untapped market of business owners who were skilled at what they did, but needed someone to keep things in order. Now her business is thriving. Find a need and fill it with your unique expertise.
Pick an area to focus your expertise
Send Attention-Grabbing Mail
Consider sending out exciting mail to clients or prospects to grab their attention. Take a cue from fashion houses who often send elaborate invites to their guests. The idea here is to stand out and build anticipation for a great show. Often guests have so many shows to attend that they must choose some and forsake others. In order to pack the house, elaborate invites makes them stand out. Louis Vuitton is known for sending beautiful clutches with the invitation enclosed.
Create Exclusive Services Or Offers
Consider what is missing in your industry and offer it to your customers. Forward thinking dentists have transformed the dreaded dental appointment into an exciting adventure with dental spas that offers massage therapy, aroma therapy, classy drinks, movies and even noise cancelling headphones! This kind of service will certainly encourage clients to show up and book future appointments. Seek to fix a problem that your industry has and you will stand out.
Create a Better Experience
Zappos is known for incredible customer service. They sometimes randomly upgrade customers shipping to next day. That kind of surprise is a great talking point! How can you improve your customer’s experience? Whether it’s with hand written notes, unexpected calls, or exclusive meetings with valued clients. There’s something that you can do to personalize your client’s encounter with your business.
Be Authentic, Be Bold, Be Different!
There are so many great business ideas and opportunities out there. While it may be tempting to add every service that your competitors have to your business model, remember to always be true to who you are, what you can offer and what makes you unique. Whether it’s your special frosting recipe or signature design elements, play up your unique strengths and quality and authentically market it to your audience.
Go against the grain, follow your instinct when making a mark… Don’t be compelled to develop a cookie-cutter business model like everyone else. Trust your creative ingenuity - try it YOUR way. Your next move may be your best move!
Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.
Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.
Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.
As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.
Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.
So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.
Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.
For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."