Much has been made recently about two excellent books, “Thrive” and “Lean In,” both written by successful female leaders. Each highlights in a different way, the importance and value of the role women can and should play in the corporate world. Regardless of your career choice, women should collectively draw strength and inspiration from these books but it can sometimes be hard to parlay the experiences of a corporate executive into that of a SOHO entrepreneur. How for example, do we seize opportunities to develop our leadership style, to “lean in” at the table when we have only our dog for company as we work diligently away in our home office? How do we engage in the “third metric” looking after ourselves, our own health and planning for giving back to our communities when it seems we need every hour of every day just to keep our small business afloat? It might be challenging but leadership opportunities exist where leadership opportunities are sought. In other words, find them! Here’s how you can both “lean in” and “thrive” even while operating your SOHO business.
The first thing you need to do, for the sake of your business and your ability to learn, practice and engage in leadership style behaviours, is join your local Chamber of Commerce or Board of Trade. Typically, fees for doing so are nominal and the benefit exponential. Not only are you opening the doors of your business to potential customers and referral networking opportunities but you are also affiliating yourself with a known and respected entity in the community. This official office might also help lend an air of authenticity to your business. Once a member, it’s up to you to lean in and seize opportunities to become further involved, perhaps by taking on a leadership role in the governing body of the organization or by volunteering for speaking engagements or trade shows where presentations and public speaking may be required. This will provide you with plenty of opportunities to enhance your skills in these areas and to make new contacts and develop new relationships. Personal growth and business growth will both result from these experiences and each, in turn, provides you with the tools to learn and grow your leadership skills.
While time remains the enemy of us all, with a bit of planning and a little dose of ingenuity and foresight, take on a voluntary role with a community social service agency. Join the Board of an organization or charity that you already support and believe in or leverage your current business skills and link with an agency that mirrors the type of service your business offers and requires someone with your expertise. These volunteer positions represent networking opportunities, a chance to enhance and grow your personal leadership skill sets and you will be doing a good thing, engaging in your community. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Many towns and cities also have Small Business Enterprise Centres and these offices often look for Guest Speakers and Experts in the field to come in and provide one hour seminars to program participants. Again, this is another fantastic way to reach out, share your expertise and learn public speaking skills while engaging in a leadership role. Often these programs are geared to new immigrants and/or young entrepreneurs just starting out who are looking for mentors and the type of sage business advice you have to offer.
Consider your skill sets and what you can give back. How can you package your experiences into an opportunity that benefits both you and your business? There is nothing wrong with offering your services to community organizations in a way that also enhances your business profile. If you need practice with public speaking Toastmasters is an excellent way to learn confidence, speaking skills and further develop your leadership abilities. Give each of these suggestions some serious consideration. By leaning in, getting involved in your community and taking on a leadership role you will help foster your own personal and professional growth. Watch your business thrive as a result and Rover will no longer be your only companion in the office!
As Owner and Principal partner of “Writing Right For You” Sheralyn is a Communications Strategist – working together with entrepreneurs to maximize profit through effective use of the written word. Looking for web content that works, blog articles that engage or communications strategies that help you get noticed? Contact Sheralyn today. Sheralyn is also the mother of two children now entering the “terrible and terrific teens” and spends her free time volunteering for several non-profit organizations.
Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.
Writing Right For You
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