Entrepreneurship as a career choice is a relatively new concept in India. Add to that the volatile nature of the Indian startup ecosystem. Finally, throw patriarchy into the mix, and now, you should have some idea of how daunting it is for women to start-up businesses.
But whether you’re an entrepreneur or working for somebody else, being a woman professional is always challenging. One cannot hide behind this excuse and not try hard enough. Tough circumstances and difficulties await all professionals, not just women. However, given the Indian scenario and the kind of biases that still exist within organisations, women must equip themselves and be prepared for more social challenges in the changing workplace.
As a woman entrepreneur who has attended multiple investor meetings, here are a few lessons I have learnt along the way.
Confidence is key: Express yourself if you strongly believe something is right or wrong; don’t be afraid of expressing your strong opinions. Always remember that you have gained a seat in that meeting room because of your hard work, intellectual capabilities, and smartness. Don’t forget that, or spiral into self-doubt.
Do your homework thoroughly: This applies both to men and women; going under-prepared can affect your confidence and reflect badly on you. Focus on business metrics, study the trends, prepare well and then present yourself. It will give you the confidence to outline your views clearly.
Dress neatly and professionally: Choosing the right outfit for a business meeting is just as important as preparing your notes. Whatever be your choice of attire, make sure you feel confident in it and that it does not attract attention for the wrong reasons. I personally prefer solid colours and very light floral prints. Invest in looking professional, it always pays well. Your attire should radiate success.
Be optimistic and encourage each other: It is important to encourage women professionals. As a woman, it is difficult to find work and be treated equally, especially if you want to innovate and be a job-provider instead of being a job seeker. Supporting and encouraging other women not only empowers and inspires them, but also makes a statement and motivates them to do what they’ve always wanted to do. Bias is something every woman has to deal with, be it in professional or personal matters. The rules are indeed different for men and women; but you cannot use it as an excuse. It takes a lot of effort to build a career in a traditionally male-dominated field, including in the domain of entrepreneurship. Every individual needs support, be it personally or professionally.
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