Susanne Bransgrove, Founder of The Women in Family Business Network, discusses the common trends and shares her personal experience as a woman in the world of business.
I am sure many reading the headline will wonder why being a woman in business might be different from being a man and whether this is even a worthwhile topic to explore. After all, women are just as capable in business as men are!
Apart from being a woman in business, I have also met many other women who are all working hard to progress, survive or thrive in business – whether in a corporate setting, in their own business or in their family’s business.
My observation of all the amazing and competent women in business is that they all share some or all the below characteristics. They are:
- Incredible perfectionists
- Very hard working
- Leaders in their business, of their family and in a variety of communities
- Too busy to take time out for relaxation, networking or personal growth
- Giving to many people around them
- Not good at asking for help and they just never stop!
An admirable list of traits – the harsh reality however is that all those amazing characteristics combined and maintained for a very long period often lead to a less than the desired outcome. Instead of enjoyable business success, the result is often chronic stress and burnout.
I am not going into detail as to what burnout looked like for me, but it is something that still impacts me.
I had to realise that if I don’t stop and look after myself, then it is unlikely that I will be able to continue to look after my clients, my staff, my partner or even pursue my weekend interests. Eventually, there is a price to pay and many women only realise this when it is almost too late.
An article from 2019 in the Sydney Morning Herald cited a Montreal University study that analysed participants’ emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and professional effectiveness.
The study found that exhaustion in the workplace was more prominent in women and that burnout was a lot more common.
Have women really fought so hard for ‘equality’ just to set impossible standards for themselves? To break under the load because asking for help and looking for support might be seen as a sign of weakness?
Women in business need professional and personal support, capital as well as access to knowledge and networks. But maybe equally as important, they need encouragement to stop and take time out – or to ask for help from those around them, whether from advisors, business partners or their family.
At a recent evening event, The Women in Family Business Network held, several people cancelled at late notice or didn’t show, which is not unusual. What was alarming was that of those, 90% were women in business and only 10% men. Most of the men who had registered felt comfortable to make the time to network and enjoy an evening at a business-related event.
I still haven’t stopped thinking about why so many women didn’t show up for an event especially created for them. Were they too busy, too tired or are they just not used to making time for something that is not just for business or for family – but mostly for self?
So, if this little piece is one thing, then it is a gentle nudge to stop and consider whether you or somebody you know might be showing some of the ‘symptoms” or traits I described?
With 2022 just around the corner and COVID hopefully not impacting life too negatively in the new year, perhaps it is a good time to think about how to get more out of the year – for business, family and self – in a more sustainable way.
- We all need a tribe of people to help lift us and provide an honest assessment on whether we are looking after ourselves and appear healthy in mind and body. Admittedly, I should stop asking my mum – she is way too honest!
- Find an accountability buddy. Somebody who ensures you invest in business process improvements to free up time – time to look after yourself and to invest in further learning and improvements.
- Make the most of the trusted advisors around you. No doubt they can do more for you and your business than you have asked for to date.
Oh, and if you are a woman in a family business, then maybe join us for one of our online or in person events next year and connect with other women just like you.
Here is to a great 2022.
Susanne Bransgrove is a Family Business Specialist, Thought Leader, Entrepreneur, and the Founder and Managing Director of The Women in Family Business Network.
Growing up as part of a third-generation family business provided Susanne with a sound foundation in understanding the range of issues that exist when being part of a family business and trying to meet the needs of multiple generations.
Susanne is passionate about supporting other women in family business as they navigate their complex roles and create a positive, lasting impact in their own family business and beyond.