We hear a lot about how startups often get on their feet by bootstrapping, which sounds very manly. It can be difficult for women entrepreneurs (or intrapreneurs, for you entrepreneurial types inside companies) to come to terms with an environment where they’re urged to “act like a man” and bring on the braggadocio. But women, generally speaking, might have a few advantages they’re not fully aware of – or perhaps are aware of as handicaps or limitations, rather than advantages. And guys, take note—women are more known for these traits, but they’re far from off limits for men.
Taking these perceived shortcomings and turning them into strengths is what I call “bra strapping.” Let’s take a look at a few.
Let’s start with the big one just to get it out of the way: intuition. Intuition is about reading people and situations, and women can often do it faster than men. That can be an advantage in a lot of fast-paced business situations where you need to make decisions without a lot of input.
There’s a reason the multi-armed Hindu goddess Kali is a goddess and not a god. Women are great at juggling a lot of tasks at once. That’s a key skill for an entrepreneur to have, especially in the early days of a venture. It also comes in handy in the open workspaces so many entrepreneurs seem to favor, with a lot going on at once.
Did someone say problem solving? Seeing problems as opportunities and creating products and services to address those problems is something women seem to gravitate towards. Perhaps it’s because so many women run households as well as their work domains.
Mark Zuckerberg didn’t invent social networking. Ladies did. Women often manage the social lives of their families, because they tend to have more relationships and make more connections. That’s a huge part of teamwork, and teamwork is key in building a successful business.
Thick skin. Women have it. Women seem to be able to tolerate both physical and emotional pain well—even those who are not mothers. There are plenty of awkward and painful moments entrepreneurs must endure and even overcome.
Developing emotional bonds can inspire people to do their best, and women are generally pretty good at nurturing and respecting emotional connections. The ability to nurture ideas and people, rather than just aggressively making things happen by brute force, is an increasingly valuable skill in the modern business environment.
What do you think? Are there really perceived feminine and masculine traits that can be used as valuable tools by anyone?