I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a daughter. These things do not define me, but refine me. These roles make me a better person. The responsibilities associated with these roles require that I be a leader and innovator. The strength and knowledge I've gained from performing these responsibilities have helped me successfully launch a new and exciting business in a highly competitive and male dominant industry.
I'm not a health nut, but I can't ignore the news about pesticide risks. As a mother, I see it as my duty to protect my family from anything that may bring them harm. As a member of the same small community for my entire life, I also care deeply about the health and well-being of all the people around me. The area that we live in tests high for nitrates in the water due to farm runoff. We made a significant investment in water purification systems in our home and places of business, so that I know my family and customers - both local and national - have the healthiest option.
When I was advised that I needed to spray the inside of our local restaurant once a month for insects… I cringed! I eat there. My family eats there. Thousands of other people eat there. I don't want a mystery chemical sprayed where food is stored, prepared and served! I quickly sought a solution. Luckily, it wasn't far away. Along with our small restaurant, our family has always been in the limestone business. We were able to naturally convert the strongest type of limestone, hydrated lime, into a safe form that still dehydrated and repelled insects. Unlike, the normal hydrated lime, or barn lime you've always been able to find in stores, our new limestone based product is both safe and non-caustic to humans. So, with my sister's support, we started our business.
We made it for ourselves and anyone else who was in need of a pesticide alternative. We researched, built our plant, and hit the market. First Saturday Lime was made to be applied once a month, on the “First Saturday" of the month. We offer a subscription service as well as fun giveaways and reminders on the first Saturday of every month. The demand for our product grew exponentially.
Through production, study, and customer interaction, we discovered this all-natural product, due to its harmless nature, had a host of other uses!
After some student testing, we found that it qualifies as a sanitizer, and has now taken off with the farming community to treat chicken coops and horse stalls for bacteria.
It is also used as algae and mosquito prevention in standing water. It can also be used as a chalk paint. A few customers used First Saturday Lime to successfully deodorize some stinky situations and now it is widely used for just that. The list of uses keeps growing.
I mentioned my sister earlier, but what I said wasn't enough… not nearly enough. I wouldn't have started this business without her. She is my driving force and my strongest ally. We are highly critical of each other's work, but we complement each other well, and together we've built and continue to grow a company in which we are both extremely proud of. We have both learned to not take anything personally. We accept feedback and step in when one or the other needs help. When you're related, it's often better to keep family matters separate from business matters. But on the other hand, I consider the other employees in our privately owned businesses as family. We care about each other. We care about the product. We care about our customers. We care about the world!
I don't know what it's like to be a white man… or African American, or Mexican, or homosexual or transsexual, and so on, but I do know what it's like to be a woman. Although I do feel very fortunate, I can admit that at times things have been tough and seemed unfair. Ok, they were definitely unfair. But, as I often tell my children, “That's life!" It has made me who I am, and I see myself as strong. Sometimes, I imagine trading it for the ability to pee standing up. Oh, to be able to take a 5 minutes shower! And it would be nice to know I'm not being judged differently because I'm wearing a dress instead of a suit. However, it doesn't take much consideration to know that I would never make that trade.
The lawn and garden industry may be historically male dominant, but the purchasing power of customers has become more and more female-driven. As women working in the industry, we recognized, respected and most importantly related to what women want. It turns out that many men want the same thing. They've just been doing it the same way too long without any alternatives.
We were happy to shake things up! One thing I have learned, male or female, is don't be afraid to accept help. Also, keep close the important things in life. Don't let the things that can't be replaced slip away. Choose your time wisely. It may be fun to “network" but make sure it's with people who value your time as much as you do. Know your audience, recognize the situation, and always act accordingly. Starting a business comes with a series of unknowns, but always maintain your composure and confidence when it counts most. It should be fun, but it's still serious business. You invest so much time and money, don't let an opportunity to impress slip through your fingers.
Communication is key. New ideas and exponential amounts of new tasks are common occurrences that must be delegated in a startup business, and as Owner and CEO, I often forget people can't read my mind. Furthermore, the more brains, the better. Yes, two are better than one, but you don't have to stop there. Let as many people as you trust critique, proof, edit and contribute to everything you can. My brain is wired for engineering and math. So, I get as many eyes on things as I can before hitting send. For example, I consulted with my sister on the content of this article. Also, this would also be a good time to thank my wonderful husband for proofreading the final product. (Editor's note: Her husband is happy to help and is a very lucky man.)
I try to live with no excuses. For anything. Stepping on toes rarely breaks bones. You have to open some doors yourself. In the hectic pace of a startup company that is full of passionate people, it's easy to overreact and lose one's temper. But I try to see all people for who they are. I try not to judge. The only thing I care about is treating people kindly. I care about caring. If what you believe and want to do doesn't hurt others, I support you and your decisions. I am no better than anyone else. I do, however, work very hard.
We created First Saturday Lime to help people, to protect children and animals, and to provide safe alternatives to other people who care. It brings me joy to contribute something that is safe for the environment when the alternatives can be detrimental. Maybe it's that sense of accomplishment that compels me to move forward. Maybe that's selfish. But if that's my downside, then I will take it.
If you are reading this, then it is quite likely that you are a business leader and mentor already, and the very fact that you are looking to improve your skills beyond your current capacity means you are already ahead of the game.
In corporate sectors all around, a general trend has been observed which point towards the conclusion that talented women employees do thrive better under female mentorship. What this means is that women at the forefront of corporate leadership today must continue to improve in their ability to both lead and mentor the leaders of tomorrow. This is facilitated by the easy availability of ILM Level 7 Executive Coaching courses and training nowadays, which we are going to discuss in detail next.
Improving as a Mentor: Where Do You Start?
Given that improving on leadership and mentorship skills only concerns those that are already leading businesses and tutoring fresh talent under them, the very first requirement here concerns completing advanced ILM Level 7 Coaching programs.
However, in order to also include a more comprehensive educational curriculum and training to hone your mentorship skills to a point, it would be a good idea to go with a BCF Group program, which will help you to get that widely respected and vastly useful ILM Level 7 Certificate in Executive Coaching and Mentoring.
The BCF Group is one of the UK's most highly rated Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) Approved Centres for ILM Level 7 Executive Coaching Courses. To know more about what exactly to expect during and after completing your ILM Level 7 Qualifications in Executive Coaching and Mentoring from the centre, head over to the official site.
In the meantime, some of the advantages of their ILM Level 7 Coaching curriculums can be highlighted as follows:
- Advanced understanding of high-level coaching and mentoring theories
- Critical evaluation of one's own leadership mentoring and executive coaching practices
- Knowing how to relate someone's personality and nature of business to her own mentoring practices
- Personal growth: Effective learning and mentoring fellow coaches
Once you have the ILM Level 7 Coaching Certificate, you are finally ready to take on advanced responsibilities as a business leader and significantly improve on your ability to mentor the fresh, female executives and leaders that rely on you for guidance.
Without the necessary advanced education and training, progress would not be possible after a point, but once you do end up completing your certifications, it is time to build on that that knowledge and training by adding your own unique touches towards developing a mentoring procedure for your clients/executives.
Understanding the 3 Different Aspects of Mentorship which Hold the Most Value to Corporate Women
There are various different aspects of business coaching, but most women usually need more assistance and guidance in some particular areas over others. If you have a certificate in executive coaching and mentoring, you most likely possess the ability to cover at least two of them for your clients.
After going through the opinion of numerous business mentors who have had a great deal of experience in working with talented women across multiple fields, the primary mentoring needs of corporate women in particular seem to be divided into three broad categories:
- Advisory mentorship
- Strategic mentorship
- Operational mentorship
Advisory Mentorship: Feedback
Most women working in a corporate environment agree that their managers are not as straightforward or guiding with their feedback to the female executives as they are usually with the male executives. The feedback is, of course, extremely important for growth, and in its absence, improvement and employee evolution is often stunted - even in those with potential.
The advisory role of the mentor is meant to fill this damaging gap by providing her with valuable feedback which she can then use to further her own progress. It is important for everyone, regardless of gender, to get a clear idea regarding what their weaknesses are that they need to work on, as well as getting feedback on their strengths, so that they know exactly what to rely on in times of urgency. The advisory role played by a coach and mentor involves doing both and much more.
Strategic Mentorship: Exposure
Exposure is another part of the industry where women employees and even female business owners are lagging behind, since managers, partners and other decision makers often end up highlighting the best performing men over the equally talented (if not more so) women.
The job of the strategic mentor is to make sure that her clients are not overshadowed by anyone. They work towards bringing the spotlight to talented leaders and executives, so that they too can form valuable partnerships, get promotions, and find more suited roles for their talents. It is to be noted that experienced and well-connected business coaches who have been in the field for a while make the best strategic mentors for obvious reasons.
Operational Mentorship: Advice
Operational mentorship goes beyond just the generic advice, but involves an actual process and step by step solution to overcoming obstacles in a female executive's path to success, be it for an immediate project or a long-term goal.
Just as experienced coaches and mentors are ideal for strategic mentorship, women need more industry specific guidance when it comes to operational mentors. They need to be women who have actually worked in the specific field concerned, or finding practical solutions and forming strategies to overcome specific obstacles will prove difficult, even if the mentor has her best interests in mind.
When you are a highly qualified, experienced and successful female business coach, know that you are not only helping your clients reach success, but you are at the same time being seen as a role model for women working in the corporate sector. Every time you succeed in making another woman reach her goals, you are inspiring more women to follow in your footsteps, as well as showing them how to walk that road to success by mentoring them.