Every woman business owner wears several different hats throughout the day. From being a wife and a mother to being an employer, a business owner, and a friend, each type of female entrepreneur handles each type of relationship differently. While some women business owners undoubtedly stand out as shining examples of how to handle various types of relationships, others face challenges with communicating and prioritizing. The good news is that challenges can be beat with the right information and tools/strategies.
A recent study reveals there are five distinct types of women in business. Based on professional market research of more than 2,500 women in business, this study shows that each type of business owner has a unique approach to running a business and to handling the other details of her life – and therefore each one has a unique combination of needs. This article outlines three of the five types and provides tips for making the most of their relationships.
Jane Dough is an entrepreneur who enjoys running her business and makes good money. She is comfortable and determined in buying and selling, which may be why she’s five times more likely than the average female business owner to hit the million dollar mark. Jane Dough is clear in her priorities and may be intentionally and actively growing an asset-based or legacy business. It is estimated that 18% of women fall in the category of Jane Dough.
While Jane Dough is arguably the most “traditionally” successful type of female entrepreneur, she faces certain unique challenges when it comes to relationships.
• In business: Jane Dough is a fast-paced entrepreneur who strives for aggressive growth. The speed with which she operates may keep her from effectively communicating her business vision to her team members – and it may make her come across as brusque and impatient. When communication fails and team members do not live up to Jane Dough’s expectations, she may react quickly by firing them. To improve her relationships with members of the team, Jane Dough can schedule regular planning retreats and performance reviews. The planning retreats will give her an opportunity to share her short- and long-term visions with her team members in a pre-planned format so everyone understands the direction she’s going with the company. The performance reviews will give team members an opportunity to hear feedback from their employer, and to share any ideas they have developed (and this fosters a feeling of ownership in the company). Jane Dough should also keep in mind that while she is adept at keeping her business separate from her personal life, others are not – so she needs to work on communicating clearly yet kindly with team members and with colleagues, vendors and clients.
• At home: As previously mentioned, Jane Dough is skilled at keeping her business life separate from her personal life. Therefore, when she arrives home, she is fully present for her family members. While most Jane Dough business owners reported a high level of satisfaction with their work-life balance, they also reported working long hours. While this type of business owner may feel satisfied with her work-life balance, she must consider the opinions of her family members if her business demands large quantities of her time.
Accidental Jane is a successful, confident business owner who never actually set out to start a business. Instead, she may have decided to start a business due to frustration with her job or a layoff and then she decided to use her business and personal contacts to strike out on her own. Or, she may have started making something that served her own unmet needs and found other customers with the same need, giving birth to a business. Although Accidental Jane may sometimes struggle with prioritizing what she needs to do next in her business, she enjoys what she does and is making good money. About 18% of all women business owners fit the Accidental Jane profile.
Accidental Jane enjoys the freedom of running her own business outside of corporate restraints. On the other hand, she sometimes finds herself tied down by influxes of work that follow her dry spells. During these times, she may feel like she isn’t experiencing the freedom she craves. Ebbs and flows will smooth out over time, and a low-maintenance, constant marketing system will help, too. In the meantime, Accidental Jane will continue to balance her business and her relationships. Here are some tips for how to manage that balance:
• In business: Because Accidental Jane business owners often started their businesses to escape corporate politics, they usually do not want to hire employees, or to be tied to regular office hours. Therefore, if they do need help they end up hiring contract workers who can meet their needs without requiring the same attention as traditional employees do. Accidental Jane must work to ensure that she is available to answer her helpers’ questions, though, so they know exactly how to meet her needs. Also, making the most of her business relationships by networking and maintaining regular contact with past and current clients will help Accidental Jane to maintain a more even workload. She values receiving positive feedback and repeat business, so that maintenance will increase her personal satisfaction, too.
• At home: Although Accidental Jane business owners reported high levels of satisfaction with their work-life balances, they also wished for a more even workload. Because her workload varies so much from day to day, Accidental Jane may feel one day like she can’t stop working early to attend a child’s T-ball game; while the following week she may wish there were 3 T-ball games with which she could occupy her time. The unpredictability of her workload can wreak havoc on her ability or desire to create personal plans. As her workload evens out, plans will become easier to make. In the meantime, she can make a point of rescheduling, rather than canceling, any plans that must make way for a big project or new client. Accidental Jane values being a positive role model for others, and will encourage her children to find career paths they love and enjoy.
Merry Jane is an entrepreneur who usually is building a part-time or “flexible time” business that gives her a creative outlet that she can manage within specific constraints around her schedule (whether she’s an ad agency consultant or she makes beautiful artwork). She may have a day-job, or need to be fully present for family or other pursuits. She realizes she could make more money by working longer hours, but she’s happy with the tradeoff she has made because her business gives her tremendous freedom to work how and when she wants, around her other commitments.
Merry Jane’s myriad responsibilities demand that she manage her time – and her relationships – well. She has more freedom than any of the other types of business owners have, and she enjoys that. When it comes to her relationships, then, she can learn to manage them so she gets the maximum value.
• In business: Merry Jane business owners often would like to earn more money. To do so, a Merry Jane entrepreneur must utilize her existing business relationships. By surveying her customers or clients, she can get a clearer picture of exactly what they most enjoy about her services or products, and she can then market to an audience most like the one with which she currently finds success. One thing to keep in mind: because Merry Jane is so busy, it is imperative that she find a way to remain available for contact if team members have any questions when she is not in the office. This does not mean being available all day, every day; rather, it means being specific with team members about how and when to contact her for important questions.
• At home: Merry Jane is determined to make a contribution to her household, whether it’s financially or otherwise. Therefore, she is exceptional at being fully present when she is home. From taking care of her children to working a full-time job in addition to her business to helping her parents, Merry Jane is dependable, and she and her friends and family members value that gift.
It may be difficult for female entrepreneurs to switch gears between their business and home lives; however, each one can employ specific strategies for being an effective part of every relationship in which she participates.