If our businesses are not growing, is there anything we can do? What about on our jobs? Do we have any control over getting a promotion or being paid better? The short answer is “Yes”! The long answer is, it usually doesn’t happen by itself. There are steps we can take to improve the odds and to put ourselves in position for increase. Unfortunately, we may be doing things that ruin our chances for better businesses and better pay – and we sometimes have no idea…
What Holds Us Back: BUSINESS
(1) There are two major issues that can keep us at a standstill in our businesses. The first issue is our knowledge of basic finance. The purpose of having a business is to make money. Let me repeat that. The main point in owning a business is to make money by providing goods or services that are solutions for your customers. If you aren’t making money, then you’re not in business. So the very first thing that every business owner must know is: How much have you made every month and How much have you spent every month. For example, if in January you spent $420 on business expenses (materials, advertising, fees, etc.) and you made $500, then your profit is $80. Of course you’ll want to know how long it took to make that money, but the point is – do you know what those numbers are? For the example above, the return on investment, or ROI, is almost 20% (80 divided by 420,times 100). Knowing your numbers helps you to determine what your next goals are. Do you want a higher return (the answer should be yes)? Will you do this by lowering cost, raising prices, running promotions that get more customers? If you don’t know your basic numbers, you’re taking stabs in the dark.
(2) The second issue facing businesses is a lack of learning. There is always more information out there on running your business, marketing your business, expanding your network, proper pricing, and understanding how your competitors are operating. The question is, how often do you seek out this information? If you understand the importance of getting more information, you’ll set time aside ON PURPOSE to research, improve your website, follow up on leads, get in touch with your local small business association, etc. The degree to which you are willing to learn more, and actually pencil that learning into your weekly (or daily) schedule, is the degree to which you will set your business up for success.
What Holds Us Back: Career
(3) Just like with the business discussion, not knowing where we stand on our jobs can hold us back – robbing us of promotion and increase. While everyone usually starts at entry level at some point, the smart woman begins her strategy right away. Instead of getting so attached to your place of work, it’s a good idea to occasionally search the job engines (like indeed.com, monster.com, and glassdoor) to see what skills positions like yours are requiring – and paying. After the first year on the job, make sure you are given a performance review. If your job doesn’t have this in place, simply ask for a brief appointment with your boss. A few good questions to ask during this 15-30 minute appointment are:
- How would you rate my performance or progress over the last year?
- What key areas should I work on?
- What professional development would be helpful for me to attend?
(4) Another key promotion-stealer can be less obvious, yet very important. It is our professionalism at work. How we dress, whether or not we’re constantly complaining, if we are courteous to fellow employees and customers, and our speech and grammar. I will briefly cover each one and potential solutions:
Professionalism at Work
- Most jobs have dress codes, but some women still either ignore or misinterpret them. In general, form-fitting clothing (including stretch pants) or clothes that don’t fit well, low-cut blouses, shoes that are run down or inappropriate for the work being done, and visible underthings (panty lines, pink bras under white tops, etc.) are usually frowned upon. Management may not even address it, but they will take note. You may not be chosen if inappropriate dress has been noticed and not viewed in a positive light. Think of it this way: either you’ll be satisfied your whole life at the level you’re at now, or you’ll want to move up at some point. Be willing to invest in a few blazers, skirts, and slacks (you may need to buy them big and have them altered – that’s a different post…) so that you’re prepared to fill the role when it comes.
- Constant Complaining or Poor Customer Service: You may have heard the quote “The wheel that squeaks the loudest is the one that gets replaced.” People who take the time to apply for a job, interview, and are offered the position should express some level of gratitude at work. In many cases, they were chosen over other applicants and were considered by the hiring professional to be a good fit for the workplace. Women who complain often, cause strife with other co-workers, or are rude to customers, can make their managers sorry they were hired. Even if they never express it, the “powers that be” can find a way to replace you if the complaining and drama go on long enough…
- Speech and Grammar: People who get promoted have proven to their supervisors/managers that they would represent the business well, both in speech and in writing. If neither of these areas are strengths for you, consider taping yourself on calls or in meetings, and asking a mentor (someone who has proven success and who has a willingness to work with you) to review all or some part of it. If writing is your downfall, ask someone you trust to proofread some of your documents so that you can recognize common errors and fix them before they make it to your boss’s desk. The point here is to be honest about it and to actively work to make improvements.
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What’s Holding Us Back: Health and Finance