There are countless checklists and personality assessments available online to supposedly help you determine if you have what it takes to make it in business. They can be fun, thought-provoking, and interesting, but even if you "fail" a "do you have what it takes?" test, ignore the results.
Most of these tests ask questions like "are you an optimist?" or, "are you a good leader?" They pose the cliché and superficial questions "are you creative?" and "do you work well with people?" (Any test that asks "are you a people person?" immediately disregard!)
Why Cliché Questions Do Not Apply to Women Entrepreneurs
No one is an optimist all of the time and being overly optimistic at the wrong time can actually lead to making poor business decisions. A successful business woman often needs to be a team player – or serve as merely an inspiration – not always insisting on being in the lead. And, having an open mind is far more important than being a "creative" person.
Rather than answer a question about how well you work with people you should be asking just who are these "people" you are supposed to work well with?
For example, working with family members is a far different thing from working with unrelated employees, and almost everyone can get along with easy-going folks. So shouldn't the question really be "can you work with difficult, annoying, and whiny folks?" Because these are the customers and employees you are most likely to hear from – the ones with concerns, complaints, and demands.
A more realistic question to ask yourself is can you work with a husband who might challenge with every business decision you make? Statistically very few husband and wife partnerships, where both parties have equal status in the business, remain in business together.
Because "people" cannot be lumped into one category, being a "people person" is not a requirement in business as far as I am concerned. More important, is the ability to put your personal feelings aside to be able to make logical, fact-based business decisions; not emotional decisions to please other people (unless it involves pleasing your customers).
Shouldn't the question "do you love what you are doing?" be asked, instead?
Three Things That Every Entrepreneur Should Develop
"Assessment" tests can be boiled down to three very simple things entrepreneurs should have, or be willing to develop, that are meaningful assets for starting and running a business successfully.
Notice the key word here is "develop," not "already have." The desire, willingness, and ability to learn new skills and habits can contribute to any business women's success.
One of these things is an attitude you can adopt, one is a skill that can be easily learned, and the third is a personality trait few of us come by naturally but with a little practice can be successfully mastered.
Three things that are important to achieving success in business are:
Best Business Attitude: A refusal to quit when things get tough.
Most Valuable Skill: Networking. Networking. Networking.
Strongest Personality Trait: Having thick skin (being objective).
The Best Business Attitude
Does it really make a difference in a person's success whether or not they are an optimist or a pessimist? Not necessarily. An optimist might look at the bright side of things and serve as an inspiration to keep pressing forward, but a pessimist may assess things more realistically and make less risky decisions. Either way, it is not necessarily how you see a situation, but how you respond to a situation that will either hinder or facilitate your success in business.
A true entrepreneurial attitude requires refusing to quit when things get tough but this has little to do with being a pessimist or an optimist. An optimist can always find a "bright" side to quitting; "Maybe I cannot do this, but I can always try something else!"
A pessimist might grumble about something being challenging or unfair, but it does not mean they throw in the towel. Even the most successful entrepreneurs have to do things that they are not happy about in the short-term, but are glad they did in the long-run. In fact, some pessimists who see an accomplishment as less than ideal may work harder to achieve even better results.
Refusing to give up on something should not be confused with just being stubborn. Holding onto ideas and practices that are not working is being stubborn (and foolish, too). Considering alternative approaches to overcome challenges is an example of "sticking-to-it," not just being "pig-headed."
The key difference between being stubborn and being tenacious is that stubbornness stands in denial of a problem refusing to accept a need for change. A "can do" attitude works through problems by considering a variety of solutions.
The Most Important Business Skill Women Entrepreneurs Need to Develop
Networking. Few things will help you establish and grow your business faster than a creating a strong network.
No one person knows it all or can do it all. If you isolate yourself and your thoughts, you isolate your business as well. Having access to a variety of resources can increase your efficiency, knowledge, your business' publicity, and your chances of succeeding.
If you are anti-social (or a work-from-home mom who cannot get out without children in tow) and do not have much face-to-face contact to build networks, you can still work on building a business network in other ways. Start by joining professional groups online, developing press releases, brochures, and other written communications.
Another great way to build networks is to simply participate in forums, e-mail discussion lists, and chat rooms that somehow relate to your business or the type of customer you want to attract.
Use personal and other social opportunities to network yourself and your business. You do not have to be aggressive or pushy, but always have a business card handy when an opportunity to promote your business presents itself.
Having thick skin. If you take everything personally you will have a much harder time accepting ideas and change, and you will never get the most out of your business or your employees.
To be successful you need to be willing to listen to new ideas and actively solicit the opinions of others. Treasure new ideas and opposing opinions; not rebuke them.
The ability to accept constructive criticism will help your business stay on the cutting edge and avoid potential problems you might not be able to see on your own. Simply by showing that you value the opinions and advice of others will make you appear more approachable to your peers, employees, and customers.
Even if you do not actually follow their advice, the more you ask what they think, the more valued they will feel. The more valued they feel, the more loyal they are to you and your business. In other words, simply by soliciting input from other people you create a positive mini public relations network. People will talk about you and how your business is run so you should help them find positive things to talk about!
In business, it is important that you make the right decisions, and this does not always mean doing things your way. Listen to others, even if they do not have the right solution to a problem, they bring a new perspective, and you can always stand to learn something from others.
Summing Things Up and Getting Started
Networking Beginnings: Ask others about their challenges, successes, and if they have any advice about your own business ideas. This is the first step to begin building your network because you are already letting others know about your ideas.
Do Not Give Up: When they say you are crazy (finding initial support for a new business idea is particularly hard from women entrepreneurs, listen to the concerns of others, but instead of just giving up on idea, reassess its value from other's points of view.
To evaluate if you have what it takes to make it in business you do not need to answer questions in self-assessment quizzes, instead you should be asking questions. Talk to other business women, peers, colleagues, family, and friends – anyone you might be able to learn from. Just be sure to listen to the answers with more than just your ears and remember, it helps to have a thick skin.