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The Top 10 Mistakes That Keep Women From Scaling Up

Career

I’ve coached and worked with hundreds of women entrepreneurs making between $75k and $750k in revenues, and in my book Million Dollar Women I profiled women who successfully built multi-million dollar companies. When only 3% of women entrepreneurs are reaching $1M in revenues, we know that the women who make it “big” are more the exception than the rule.


Mistake #1: Doing it all yourself

Any entrepreneur who gets $1M in revenues has figured out how to delegate and usually has one or more full time staff, part time people or consultants, virtual assistants and/or interns. Many women I work with are hesitant about delegating, even when they know they’re stretched too thin. They are afraid the job won’t get done right, they don’t want to spend the money, or don’t have the experience to hire and manage people effectively. If you read my blog regularly, you know I talk about the importance of becoming a Delegation Ninja and that I am myself a recovering perfectionist, so I can relate! In my Masterclass, I help women start offloading responsibilities so they can focus on their genius work and be the leader in their company, not the lead do-er .

Twice as many men get to $1M, or 6% compared to our 3%.

So exactly what is getting in our way of catching up with men in turning our business ideas into ones that make bank? Twice as many men get to $1M, or 6% compared to our 3%. I’ve noticed some common issues that hold back companies with fantastic potential from doubling in size and getting on a path to go big (and I committed at least four of these mistakes for yearsat Little Pim). Check out my top ten here, and if you want to learn how to avoid them.

Mistake #2: Lack of internal systems and processes

It takes some trial and error to learn what internal systems and processes work when it comes to finance, marketing, sales, operations, etc. While it’s hard to carve the time out to actually finesse these, it’s crucial for scaling up. To get to $1M in revenues we need to fine tune the “money making machine” at the center of our business. This usually means having a specific and written sales playbook, software the automates much of the work, and established systems that work.

Mistake #3: Not busting limiting beliefs

As a trained Master Practitioner in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and someone who has done a lot of work on mindset in my personal and professional life, I can tell you that we may think we are making rational decisions all day based on facts, when in reality, the unconscious drives the show. Many entrepreneurs think that just ramping up sales is the golden ticket for growth, but that’s simply not the case.

Without the right mindset, and tackling our own limiting beliefs, many entrepreneurs lack the confidence and belief in themselves that they need and deserve to go big. It’s rarely competence holding women back, it’s often confidence and a mix of beliefs about money, what we deserve, and how we can do what we love and make bank at the same time.

Mindset mastery is one of the first things we tackle in my Masterclass, because in clearing up our limiting beliefs and building mental toughness, we can truly embrace success. As Henry Ford said, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right.”

Having the right mindset is like laying down the foundation on which you can build your mansion, and it’s the number one thing the women I interviewed for Million Dollar Women underscored as critical to their success.

Mistake #4: Not understanding the scalable part of your business

While it’s true that sometimes entrepreneurs can’t see the forest from the trees, being able to understand the scalable part of your business is the difference between hitting a plateau and the “hockey stick” growth that we all aim for. It’s also what makes your company “investable” because the company can grow to fives or ten times bigger than it is today without having to bring on five or ten times more staff, marketing or infrastructure spend.

Mistake #5: Not working with coaches, mentors and advisors

An entrepreneur without coaches, mentors and advisors is like a backpacker without navigation tools. Sure, you can find your way to success on your own, but it will take you so much longer. Some female business owners I speak to are hesitant to work with what I call “flying buttresses”, or won’t invest the time or money to work with a coach. The truth is working with the people who have been there and done that can have huge ROI.

This is one of the main reasons that I designed my Masterclass with coaching built into it. I believe that every entrepreneur could benefit from a coach and most of the uber successful ones still have one, and have had several along the way. If you haven’t worked with a coach, mentor, or advisor, remember that they aren’t there to fix your business. They’re there to guide you in the right direction and course-correct you when you’re heading off track, show you paths you hadn’t seen, and help you get out of your own way.

Mistake #6: Insufficient financial know how

I’ve said before that finance is the proverbial Achilles heel for entrepreneurs because it’s not something most of the women I coach are excited or passionate about. Business owners don’t need to have a financial degree to run a business, but we do need to educate ourselves in order to create a cash runway, steward our money better, and raise capital. This really hits home for me, and in Masterclass we make sure everyone gets better at money management.

Mistake #7: Not having a cash runway

“You can be low on cash for a long time, but you can only run out of cash once.”

I’ll never forget when one of my advisors told me, “You can be low on cash for a long time, but you can only run out of cash once.” Many businesses fail or start sinking simply because they run out of cash.

In my research for Million Dollar Women, I learned that women are twice as likely as men to shut down their businesses because they run out of cash. And I made some errors in the early days of Little Pim that almost cost me the company (I share that story in my free Masterclass Primer Series). I don’t want that to happen to you.

Mistake #8: Good on vision, bad on execution and vice versa

Every entrepreneur has different skills. Some are excellent when it comes to having a vision for their company, but terrible at execution. On the other hand, some are excellent with execution, but bad on vision. Do you fall into one of these categories?

If you do (most of us do), you may want to think about how you can either improve on what you’re lacking in the good vision/good execution equation or find someone to work with you that will provide that necessary balance.

Without good vision, how can we create a one-year, three-year and five-year plan for our businesses? And without good execution, how can we get the necessary tasks done to produce our work and keep scaling up? Successful entrepreneurs learn to work on the business not just in the business, and to make strategy a priority — I wrote about this in my blog on strategy, “plan the dive and dive the plan.”

Mistake #9: Improperly tracking marketing spend

One of the dangers of running out of cash is tied to miscalculating marketing spend. There was a time at Little Pim where we didn’t track where our customers were coming from and didn’t know which marketing channels were performing and why. Eventually, we started keeping a closer eye on our marketing spend and were able to avoid falling into the money pit that is digital marketing and started getting excellent ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). We implement the 75/25 marketing budget rule. This was part of the “money making machine” we built that I referenced in #2.

Mistake #10: Not investing in networking and personal and business growth

Ok, I snuck two Mistakes into this last one. We don’t know what we don’t know, right? So the only way to learn what we don’t know is to invest in resources for personal and business growth, whether it’s reading blogs, devouring business books, finding coaches and mentors or joining an entrepreneur’s group. I did all of those and so did most of the women who made it to $1M in revenues and beyond.

At the end of the day, if your business is in trouble or you’re stuck at a certain point, you can either spend your time, money and energy trying every solution, or you can spend it on resources that will give you the frameworks, support systems, and education necessary to make that jump to the next level.

As for networking, without meeting people who can help you stretch to the next level, you may stay stuck wherever you are currently.

Getting further, faster

Many women entrepreneurs who struggle with scaling up don’t initially see that the answer probably lies in learning how to work smarter, not harder. I created Masterclass to help even more women make the climb to $1M in revenues, and it’s the program I wish I could have taken when I was scaling up Little Pim. (Click here to learn more about the course)

Anyone who has worked with me knows I like to say that in life you can have REASONS or you can have RESULTS. This means, you can have all the reasons you didn’t get what you said you wanted, or you can have the results, because you did what it took. Which will it be for you and your company? If it’s the latter, join us, and let’s all go big together!

Stay brave,

Julia

This article first appeared in Julia Pimsleur.

7min read
Culture

The Middle East And North Africa Are Brimming With Untapped Female Potential

Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.


A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.

The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.

Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")

The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."

This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.

Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.

She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."

Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.

"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei

While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.

Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.

The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."

This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.

Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.