By Dr. Venus Opal Reese
Defy Impossible, Inc.
Research shows that women CEOs falter at the $1 million threshold. If that describes you, what’s sabotaging your success — and how can you overcome it?
In terms of growth in business ownership, women have been soaring past men, with the number of women-owned firms increasing at 1.5 times the national average, according to the 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses by American Express Open.
The nearly 9.1 million women-owned businesses provide jobs for nearly 7.9 million people (in addition to the owner) and generate more than $1.4 trillion, according to the report.
Leading the skyrocketing growth are women of color, who now own one of every three female-owned businesses — up from one in six in 1997. Black women alone generate $49.5 billion a year in revenue.
What’s interesting is that these businesses match or exceed their peers in terms of numbers, employment, and revenue — until they hit the $1 million mark. At $1 million, they start lagging behind. Despite their bigger-than-average numbers, women’s businesses are still smaller than average.
Female CEOs both black and white tend to unconsciously start sabotaging their success just as they’re growing into greatness. Why?
I believe that from the time we’re babies, society — often our own families, too — measure our worth based on how we measure up to their expectations. So we end up measuring our value on those same expectations, not the values that come from our true, authentic self. That sets up some real conflicts as we build successful businesses.
How can we overcome that — “defy impossible”? Try these five tips:
- Know your worth in dollars and cents. Most women tend to accept the unspoken expectation that people will notice and reward us. That’s a mistake. If you over-give or over-work, you actually train your environment to expect you to give without compensation. Start calculating the time, money, and resources you bring (or save) your clients or company. Write it down. When you are ready to up your rates or ask for a raise, you will not be depending on good will. You will have hard data to back up your hard work.
- Trust that you are more than enough. Too often we look outside of ourselves for validation. Sometimes we think a degree or a title will give us the “right” to be paid top dollar. You are brilliant. Start noticing that when you show up, things get better, they get done, and people soar. When you trust that you are enough, you stop backing down and you start standing up for yourself — no credential needed.
- Heal your heart. Money is a heart condition. Think of money as energy. Energy needs a conduit. Most women lead with our hearts. Whenever you are harboring resentment, regret, anger, resignation, or fear, you are blocking yourself from your seven-figure future. When our hearts are congested with negative energy, we block our wealth.
- Invest in yourself. As my business grew, there came a point when I realized that I — and it — had outgrown many of the support staff who had been perfectly suitable when I was just starting out. To get the people I needed, I doubled and, in some cases, quadrupled salaries.
When I hire proven professionals, I am investing in my peace of mind and quality time with my loved ones. When you “hire up,” you say to yourself and the Universe, “I trust you and I trust me to produce a return on this investment tenfold.”
Now that I have a top-tier team, I have the mental space, creativity, and peace of mind to focus on high-level joint ventures.
- Learn how to monetize. Until you can reliably bring in new money, you will be a slave. The best investment I ever made in myself was learning how to package, position, and price my expertise.
When you learn how to monetize, you get freedom. You don’t have to depend on a man, or a job, or the government for security. And when you learn how to close sales with confidence, your money skyrockets!
About Dr. Venus Opal Reese
Dr. Venus Opal Reese, CEO of Defy Impossible, Inc., is an acclaimed international speaker; CEO Mindset, Messaging and Marketing Mentor; and entrepreneur coach. She went from living on the streets as a teen in Baltimore to earning her PhD from Stanford University. She also holds two master’s degrees from Stanford, and she worked as a university professor before investing in herself by testing her entrepreneurial skills. Her business, Defy Impossible, grossed $1.2 million, less than three years after launching.