Is a person born a leader, or can she become one? Can women be effective entrepreneurs and leaders? Age-old questions that have no single answer. Let me tell you my story of leadership.
I started my career as a first-year student at the university. Not every 17 years old know exactly what career path she shall choose in the future. Actually, a few do. I was among the majority. Not knowing what I wanted to do, I started pondering around and about in search of a passion.
Luckily, it took me, 3 classes of Marketing analysis to realize – this is it, marketing is what I wanted to pursue as a career. As time went by, and I was getting more into marketing, I came to realize that only working as a marketing manager or specialist was not enough for me. I felt I needed to change the way some things work in my country, marketing-wise, stereotype-wise. There has been a general status quo – which put everyone in the comfort zone, and no one wanted actual change. So, I decided to put my skills, imagination, and management arsenal to work. I had made up my mind to create a marketing agency that would be different. Different from any other agency that offered their services in my country.
In a male-dominated industry, for a woman to go ahead and start her own business takes guts. For a young female entrepreneur who is determined to change the stereotypes and bring new culture in any area is twice as hard. Add the constant “fight” for equal rights and opportunities, equal pay, and you will see an almost impossible odyssey for a female entrepreneur in the world of business.
Well, at least this was what I was told every time I spoke to someone about the ideas and plans of my firm. And yes, most part of this is true. The world is not fair, and there is nothing you can do about it. So, I tried my best to prove all these statements and beliefs – wrong.
It took me months of planning and analyzing to understand exactly where my firm was going, who the target audience was, and what difficulties to expect. It also took a lot of effort not to get disappointed after each rejection of a potential client /believe me those were many/, not to take things very personally and not to trust everyone I saw. So the first step for me was to start working on myself. As time passed, I got immune to these kinds of things, and once that happened, I could see myself coordinating more on actual work and tasks, empowering my team to do the same, leading and guiding by my example.
It is about 7 years that my firm – Saege Consultants provides marketing, event management, and personal branding services for clients in Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, the UK, and the US. The firm continues to expand and provide more services. As one of the youngest female entrepreneurs in my country, I came to realize that there are a few traits that many successful entrepreneurs and leaders share:
Sense of responsibility
First and foremost – for yourself. Owning one’s actions and being responsible in whatever you do is one of the keys to your success.
Here, I assume women are better /don’t judge me strongly/. Well, if you can convince a 5-year-old to eat broccoli for dinner explaining and offering various “benefits” in return if you have the patience to listen to the cry of a two-year-old because the snow isn’t white enough, believe me- you can negotiate big deals with tough clients. This trait comes hand in hand with patience.
Risk aversion has not much in common with success. You can not avoid risks all the time. There are instances where you need to act momentarily and choose the best possible option for you. One thing is crucial, though – make sure that those risks are calculated when you do take risks.
Last but not least, believe it or not, strong intuition helps a lot.
I know this might now be the right platform to speak about intuition, but the intuition has helped me quite a lot in my experience.
Honestly, I do not know what the textbook definition of leadership is. Rather I would prefer everyone to interpret it as they see and feel. For someone, a good leader is a person who is able to communicate; for another one, a good leader is the one who has all the knowledge; for a third person, a good leader has different traits.
For me being a leader has many meanings, but the most important one is being in harmony with oneself and believing in one’s efforts. Otherwise, no one else will do. When you stand strong and know what you are doing, without a doubt, 80% of your success is there. Hard work and devotion count for the other 20%.
One thing is for sure- you can not be a good entrepreneur if you are not a good leader. And in order to be a good leader, you have to have the stamina to stand and overcome a lot of difficulties that are there for you at every step you take. And there is one way to overcome these difficulties – just be confident and very much in love with what you are doing. There is no way you will err if you love what you do.