Ladies, Treat Yourself Like a Start-Up

So, I have a new client, a tech startup, and this is the first time I’ve worked in the startup environment. It’s only been a week, but it’s data, analytics, and more data and more analytics.

I’ve learned a lot, which is good. I’ve even started to think in start-up terminology. My client’s favorite words are lean and ROI. He’s constantly asking me what is the purpose of this or that, and having to account for and justify things has added some real legs to both my content marketing strategy and how I spend my time.

Women can be as analytical as men, despite the stereotypes out there that suggest otherwise. I think the big difference is that we don’t always attach hard numbers or goals to our analysis.

Much of the media coverage for today – the celebrations of women, our contributions, successes, potential, missed opportunities – will be gone in 24 hours. So, in honor of International Women’s Day I thought it might be interesting if we women set some baseline data for our own self-improvement. Let’s establish some goals to create long-term impact.

We’re often judged harshly, especially these days because men are pissed about #MeToo. Everyone’s trying to figure out how to deal with our more authoritative side, and you can’t be caught slipping.

So, ladies, here are three things I think you should focus on before this day 2020. These are foundational things that I think can make or break a woman. Those who support ladies, if the woman, or women, in your life is working or struggling with any of these things, please be a help, not a hindrance.

1.     Improve your self-esteem. If self-esteem is an issue for you, put in the work to knock it out. Low-self esteem will impact every other area of your life: career, love, dream-fulfillment, physical, mental, spiritual, everything.

I think the root of self-esteem is two-fold. First, get rid of anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself. No matter what work you do to feel better about who you are, if one of your constant companions is constantly undercutting you, it won’t stick. You’re going to be operating at a deficit. This can be tough, especially if the negative Nellies are family or friends you’ve had for a long time. If you can’t boot them completely establish some mean boundaries to limit their influence on you. If you want me to blog about how to do that, lemme know. It, like today, would be a bit outside my established theme, but I’d be happy to dig into it.

2.     Improve your finances. Money can be a serious stressor, and when you’re under a lot of stress forget about thinking ahead, planning for the future, or otherwise advancing your situation. It’s more like dream deferred if you’re worried about how you’re going to pay regular bills; you’ll be too busy trying to keep your head above water to create anything new.

If you don’t have one, your first move is to make a budget. If you budget well, you can make a lot of things happen. You’ve gotta know exactly how much money you have coming in and how much money you have regularly going out. It’s not hard. But you have to face your current situation head on to see your way ahead.

Is online shopping your feel good drug of choice? Credit card payments are probably one reason you can’t save. Is INSERT NAME HERE constantly borrowing money and not paying it back? That may be why you haven’t started your retirement account, or signed up for your company’s 401K, or maxed out your contributions. Budgets are like living, breathing beings. When someone says, oh can you do X, Y and Z? You just look at your simple, two-column bible/spread sheet and say, “No, that’s not in my budget this month.”

If you’re thinking, dude. This is way too basic. Great! I’m glad to hear that. But I’ve talked to way too many women who don’t have a budget, and it’s financial success tool 101.

Another important thing to consider financially is establishing multiple income streams. A savvy start-up will offer more than one product or service so that money will come in from more than one type of consumer wallet. Women should adopt that model as well. So, get yourself a side hustle.

Too many of us get into a jam because we just have the one full-time job, and then we get fired, and we haven’t been saving. It’s happened to people I know. Or, you depend on someone else for your financial security, like a husband, and then you get divorced. If someone else provides your income and one day soon decides that you need to stand on your own, are you ready? Or, will you be newborn-baby-in-the-snow unprepared?

3.     Establish regular self-care practices. Self-care isn’t about beauty. It’s not about vanity or pursuing perfection. I think at its core it’s about being your best self. That can take many different forms, and those forms will change with time and circumstances.

You don’t have to adopt the full 10-step Korean skincare routine to practice good self-care. I’m not suggesting start something that you won’t be able to replicate or sustain. Instead, consider your current lifestyle, and then identify some small – or large – changes that will enhance it. Start with the basics: sleep, exercise and body care.

Most of us don’t need fancy. We need consistent. Establish a regular bed time. Plan regular gym or workout sessions. Be diligent about flossing your teeth every night before bed. You need your teeth. Or, you may need to download a meditation app so you can spend 10 quiet minutes each day to manage stress. You may need to exfoliate twice a week and apply a face mask on those days as well. *raises hand* I need this face that I see in the mirror each day to be the best it can be. Under no circumstance do I want to look like what I’ve been through, know what I mean?

If you work on these three action items diligently for the next 365 days and log your improvements, however incremental they may be, by the time International Women’s Day 2020 rolls around, you won’t be in start-up mode. You’ll be actively building the next phase of a very profitable, enjoyable business – the business of you.

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