Why Women Make Great Bosses

great women bosses
Women are busting through glass ceilings and breaking down barriers in business at increasing rates. There are nearly 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. alone – and these businesses have had 1.5 times the national growth average between 1997 and 2014.

In addition, women-owned businesses have been responsible for 274,000 new jobs since 2007 – and employ nearly 7.9 million employees. All of those employees know that working for a woman can rock – and now research shows that there are specific reasons why.

Women are naturally transformational leaders.

Research into management over the past 30 years has shown that great bosses excel in a hybrid style of management called “transformational leadership”. Transformational leaders, whether they are male or female, motivate other people to go above and beyond, and they put an emphasis on fostering great relationships. As a result, there are stronger interpersonal bonds between the leader and his or her staff, which brings out the best in everyone.

Although transformational leadership is gender neutral, women exceed men in their ability to foster interpersonal relationships. Men may have to work harder at developing a positive, reward-based approach to leadership, while to women it just comes naturally. As a result, a transformational leadership approach is simple for women to embrace.

Women are born multitaskers.

Female small business owners wear dozens of hats at once – but fortunately they are equipped to handle it all. Research from Penn Medicine revealed that there are significant structural differences between men and women’s brains that affects how they approach problems. Women’s neural connectivity is primarily between the left and right hemispheres (rather than front to back like the male brain). Because of this connectivity pattern, women are equipped to tackle more than one goal or problem at once. They also have superior memory and social cognition skills, which makes it easier to keep several balls in the air at the same time.

Women are more likely to overcome adversity with renewed dedication.

Business is full of ups and downs – but what a leader does when they’ve hit a rough spot dictates how they’ll succeed in the long term. According to a survey from Caliper Consulting Firm, women take a unique approach to dealing with disappointment and rejection. When a talented, ambitious women feels the sting of rejection or defeat, it fuels her ambition to reach new levels of success. While they might be a little more self-critical to begin with than their male counterparts, they more easily make the transition into “action” mode to prove themselves once again. This resilience and drive is critical to success.

Women make great bosses because they have the ability, focus and ambition to lead all while being aware of those around them.

Sound off! If you’re a female small business owner, share what makes you unique in the comments below.

About the author:

Jenn Boutwell – VP Marketing & Strategic Alliances
I am a Sage One brand ambassador and team building virtuoso. Professionally I am known for building strong teams and organizing complex situations. I am passionate about making small business owners’ lives easier so they can spend more time on what they are passionate about. When I’m not running between meetings, I’m running half-marathons and training for a full marathon.

Drop me a line at jennifer.boutwell@sage.com.

Just Go For It! Overcoming Entrepreneurial Fear

Fear of failure

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” –Nelson Mandela

Thinking about starting your own business? The decision to quit a comfortable job to pursue the road less traveled is one that many people will never make. Why? Perhaps it’s that nagging voice inside each of us saying we can’t do it—that we will fail.

Don’t give up before you even get started! If fear is holding you back from starting a business, punch fear in the face! Here are five common entrepreneurial fears and how to conquer them.

Fear #1: “I’m not ready”

For all you “Type-A-perfectionist” types out there—get ready to have your mind blown. You will never be completely prepared before starting a business. All you need is the confidence to jump in headfirst, and believe that you will find a way to modify and build as you go.

Conquer It: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on completing tasks rather than perfecting them. Pick a date and do what is necessary to launch your business within that timeline.

Fear #2: “I’m going to fail”

Yes, you will. Failure is a part of life—so why not pursue something that brings you passion? Mistakes are inevitable, but great entrepreneurs understand how to use the lessons to help their business grow.

Conquer It: Understanding what fear is and how it works can ultimately help you overcome it. Break up your major business goals into smaller action items that you can accomplish quickly and see a track record of success.

Fear #3: “I’ll have no job security”

News flash – no one on the planet has job security. Your 9-5 counterparts bear the same risk of failure as you. Luckily for entrepreneurs, your potential success lies in your hands rather than someone else’s.

Conquer It: Settling is just as crippling as doing something that is a little scary.

Remember that nothing in life is certain. You’ve made it this far – so have confidence in your ability to stay afloat as you make this new transition. .

Fear #4: “I’m not cut out for this”

The truth is, some people may not be cut out for the lifestyle of an entrepreneur. You have to be comfortable with kissing stability and control goodbye.

Conquer It: Not sure if your cut out to be an entrepreneur? Read up on some common traits and how to develop them. Or take this quiz to see if you’re cut out for the lifestyle. Remember that you are in control of your own destiny, and can grow into the person you want to be.

Fear #5: “I’m afraid of the unknown”           

Fear of the unknown results from two common places – a lack of organization and non-existent planning. Focus on what you can control, and forget the rest. Uncertainty is the only certainty in life.

Conquer It: Get organized! Don’t leave your small business dreams to chance. Make a plan and get actively involved in your success. And if your business plan includes multiple backup plans, you’ll ease your fears even more.

Have you successfully conquered your entrepreneurial fears? Have any advice for those trying to do the same? We’d love to hear from you.

About the author:

Lawton Ursrey – Sage One awareness guru and fellow entrepreneur
I have a healthy disrespect for the impossible and a passion for the little details. While I run my own small business, I am also passionate about helping other small business owners. If I’m not running my business, or helping you run yours, then I’m probably playing guitar.

Follow me on Twitter.

Burnt Out? Here’s How to Regain Your Inspiration

Are you experiencing small business burnout?

Small business ownership is work – and hard work at that. You’ll spend days, weeks and months with your nose to the grindstone and sometimes you’ll have very little to show for it. It’s no wonder that so many entrepreneurs find themselves totally burnt out within a few years of starting up.

How do you know if you’re experiencing burnout?

  • Feeling like every day you have to complete work is a bad day.
  • Feeling tired and physically exhausted.
  • Feeling overwhelmed by everything that is on your plate.
  • Feeling no joy in work – or anywhere else in your life.

You can also be quicker to criticize others, see an increase or decrease in weight and even have panic attacks. On top of that, it could be costing your small business revenue. Fatigue has an estimated cost of $136 billion per year in the U.S. – all due to lost productivity from overwork.

When you are running on empty, you are in a constant state of stress. You’re making poorer food choices, avoiding exercise and probably getting dehydrated. It may seem like the only option is to shut your doors and give up on your dream. But burnout isn’t a sign that you should give up, just a sign that you need to give yourself some time to recover.

It’s only going to get worse until you take steps to make it better. And here’s how to care for yourself so you can regain your inspiration.

Invest some quality time in you.

As you grow your small business it’s easy to put clients, employees and the next deadline in front of your physical and emotional health. You become the last priority on your list – but this has to change! Take a real vacation but don’t go anywhere – just spend time focusing on you. Get a massage – or two. Not only will this help you feel better but it will relax your frazzled nervous system and help you recover from the outside end. Catch up on sleep, eat healthy foods and spend some time laughing with friends and family. Do your favorite things that make you feel better and you’ll start losing that constant feeling of stress and anxiety.

Reassess your goals.

Sometimes burnout results from a combination of working too hard and working on the wrong things. If your day to day tasks aren’t connected to an inspiring goal you’re going to approach them with dread. Take a step back and look at your life holistically. Maybe you’re trying too hard to launch a new product, enter a new market and remodel your home at the same time. Have an honest conversation with yourself and understand that when you choose to do one thing, you’re forgoing something else. This will help you reassess your goals and find out what’s most important to you so you can feel more satisfied about work.

Know the signs of early burnout.

As you dive back into work after self-care and re-evaluation, learn to see burnout when it’s on the horizon. An afternoon off here or there when you’re initially starting to feel stressed will prevent the problem from growing any bigger. Keep up a weekly self care routine so you don’t put yourself last. And consider finding a burnout accountability buddy – other small business owners are struggling with the same problems of finding the right balance. Band together to stay accountable on self care and goal readjustment so you can stay out of the burnout zone.

Have you ever experienced small business burnout? How did you get out of the funk?

About the author:

Mike Savory – Customer advocate and automation engineer
I operate at the intersection between technology and ease of use. I strive to make our customers’ lives easier through elegantly automating manual processes. Much of my time is spent listening to small business owners, making sure to bring their voice to the table in everything I do. My free time is spent with my kids, which includes being a Cub Scout leader for an energetic group of 10-year-olds where I’m lobbying for a Software Product Management badge.

Drop me a line at michael.savory@sage.com.

Follow me on Twitter.

5 Ways To Give Back as a Bootstrapped Entrepreneur

how to give back as a bootstrapped entrepreneur

Are you committed to making the world a better place? Entrepreneurs everywhere are taking a more active approach to philanthropy and writing “charitable giving” into their business plans.

A recent report released by Ernst & Young found that 70% of entrepreneurs donate their time to charitable causes, and 62% claim that giving back makes their companies more successful in the long run. Even more interesting: nearly 50% of entrepreneurs have formed their own charities—further proof that when it comes to “giving back,” entrepreneurs see it as an opportunity, not an obligation.

If you’re looking for ways to make a difference, but are just starting out with your business – you might feel like you can’t make an impact. Not so. The good news is that you don’t need a lot of cash to give back to your community. Here are five ways to “give strategically” and make a difference, without breaking the bank.

  1. Volunteer In The Community

    Offering your time can be just as beneficial as donating money – and it’s rewarding for you to boot! If you’re not sure where to start try VolunteerMatch. It’s is an awesome resource for finding local volunteer opportunities. On the site, you can filter the search to find charitable activities that are a great fit for you or your group. That’s right – you can get team members or colleagues to join the cause!

  2. Take on a Nonprofit Client

    Each year, take on a nonprofit client that you believe in. If you’re a service-based business, offer your services to them pro bono. Find an organization that you know could benefit from your product or services, and that you know you can serve with passion. Just find a local organization that you care about and call to ask how you can help them spread the word about their cause.

  3. Offer Your Expertise

    As an entrepreneur, you possess knowledge and wisdom that your community finds valuable. You know what you’re great at. Utilize it to give back. Look for opportunities to share your expertise for free. You could help a local organization with their website, speak at a free event about small business taxes, or use your social media platforms to drive attention to a cause. You could also join the board of a fundraising committee and help bring new money into an important organization.

  4. Establish a Company Tradition

    Set up charitable giving events for your team to look forward to each year. Make the outing during normal work hours and give each person the choice to participate (because giving back should never be mandatory). You could distribute excess inventory, participate in a local run for a cause, or get your customers involved in a fundraising event. Not only does it make giving fun, but it also shows the public that you’re a company that cares.

  5. Invest In The Future

    As an entrepreneur, you understand that the best way to make an impact is to help people help themselves. Entrepreneurs are passionate about what they do, and kids need people to inspire and encourage their budding passions. Ask to speak to the next generation at a local high school, or sign up as a mentor for the Big Brothers/Sisters program in your community.

Paying it forward doesn’t always come with a hefty price tag. For many entrepreneurs, philanthropy involves more than just money—actions can make a big impact. How does your small business give back?

About the author:

Lawton Ursrey – Sage One awareness guru and fellow entrepreneur
I have a healthy disrespect for the impossible and a passion for the little details. While I run my own small business, I am also passionate about helping other small business owners. If I’m not running my business, or helping you run yours, then I’m probably playing guitar.

Follow me on Twitter.

Why You Gotta Be So Rude? How To Deal With Difficult Clients

how to handle difficult clients

There are rude people out there in all walks of life. But it can be even more difficult to deal with when your clients are the ones that make you want to break into the chorus of Magic’s “Why You Gotta Be So Rude.

Although you can never avoid tough clients, you can deal with them by mastering the art of tact and grace in your business communications.

The key is to stay calm, see their rudeness as an opportunity for improvement, and develop a plan of action. Here are some tips for dealing with those “less than ideal” clients.

Rules of Engagement

  1. Listen
    If you’re dealing with a rude client in real-time, take a deep breath and let go of the (immediate) need to be right (even if you are).  Rather than cutting them off or finishing their sentences, let them vent and let out their negative energy. Actively listen and collect the information necessary to make a judgment call on the issue.
  2. Watch your tone
    Sometimes, HOW you say something can mean just as much to the client as WHAT you’re saying. Never get defensive and do your best to ignore any insults. Find a tone that shows concern and sympathy, but also authority and confidence. Even if the client raises his/her voice, reflect the opposite energy in an effort to keep things calm and logical.
  3. Apologize & uncover the real issue
    No matter how wrong you think they are, always apologize to a disgruntled client. Validate their concerns and tell them you are sorry that they had a bad experience. The trick here is to acknowledge their frustrations, without necessarily agreeing with them. Hopefully, your apology will diffuse their rude attitude and allow you to get down to the real issue at hand.

In the heat of the moment, clients will often over generalize their frustrations. They might claim that you “never” finish on time or that your service is “always” subpar. It’s your job to keep detailed records of your work and cite specifics when solving the problem. Have a system in place to manage client complaints and use the information to improve your business. When you apologize, you can dig down to the real issue and use that to make constructive changes.

The aftermath

If the client has a valid complaint
What if the client is clearly right? If their complaint is valid, let them know how you plan to fix the issue – and then do it! Follow up with the client and let them know its been fixed, and offer a discount or compensation if necessary.

If they are just plain rude
Sometimes, you just need to let go of the client that is constantly stressing you out. While it might be a tough thing to do, it will give you the ability to focus on what really makes your business thrive. Need help with how to fire a bad client? Read our “Entrepreneur’s Guide to Firing Clients.”

Tell us—how do you handle rude clients?

About the author:

Jenn Boutwell – VP Marketing & Strategic Alliances
I am a Sage One brand ambassador and team building virtuoso. Professionally I am known for building strong teams and organizing complex situations. I am passionate about making small business owners’ lives easier so they can spend more time on what they are passionate about. When I’m not running between meetings, I’m running half-marathons and training for a full marathon.

Drop me a line at jennifer.boutwell@sage.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Are You Ready for Small Business Saturday?

Sage One supports small business on Small Biz Saturday - and every day!

Every year, your small business has an opportunity to get more attention – and dollars – coming in through the front door. Small Business Saturday, taking place this year on November 29, is an opportunity for businesses just like yours to compete with corporations for holiday sales.

American Express created the event five years ago to help small businesses thrive. Right between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the date is positioned in the middle of one of the biggest retail seasons of the year. AMEX advertises the event and offers multiple tools for small businesses to do the same. Thanks to the advertising, consumers in your area will be looking for local shops where they can spend their money – and have a unique experience. Here’s how you can participate.

  1. Offer special promotions.

    People love to save money – especially during the holiday season. So why not give them a good reason to come into your store? Whether you offer up freebies or discounts on products or services, a Small Biz Saturday promotion makes shopping at your store a no brainer. You can also use a charitable promotion to encourage people to shop. Give a portion of your sales to an important cause in your local community and position yourself as a business owner that gives back.

  2. Host a special event.

    Many people shop at local, small businesses because they can get a unique experience that they just can’t find at a big box store. Make yours a “must visit” destination on Small Business Saturday by hosting an event. Use the opportunity to partner with other businesses in your area so you both get exposure. For example, work with a local restaurant to offer appetizers and drinks while people shop, or have a local musician perform for your shoppers. You can also coordinate with other local businesses to have a “card swap” and display each other’s cards and flyers to encourage shoppers to explore other local stores.

  3. Spread the word on social media as soon as possible.

    Whether you’re a Facebook fiend or frequent Tweeter, now is the time to let your community know you’re ready for their business this small business Saturday. Use the hashtags #SmallBizSat or #ShopSmall on both Twitter and Facebook to let your audience know you’ll be participating. Start a pinboard on Pinterest with images of your store, special products and coupons you’ll be offering. Write a blog about what it means to be a local small business and what your store has planned for this special day.

In celebration and support of small businesses, we’re offering some awesome discounts starting today through November 30. Check this out:

This week only, Sage One Invoicing, which is normally just $9 per month is just $7.50 per month.

Sign up for Accounting Standard this week for just $11.90 per month (normally $14 per month). That’s a 15% discount!

Find out more and sign up by going here. 

Have you ever participated in Small Business Saturday? If so, what’s worked best for your small business and what do you have planned for this year?

About the author:

Jenn Boutwell – VP Marketing & Strategic Alliances
I am a Sage One brand ambassador and team building virtuoso. Professionally I am known for building strong teams and organizing complex situations. I am passionate about making small business owners’ lives easier so they can spend more time on what they are passionate about. When I’m not running between meetings, I’m running half-marathons and training for a full marathon.

Drop me a line at jennifer.boutwell@sage.com.