Reflection on Being a Female Entrepreneur on International Women’s Day

Posted by on March 08, 2020

Written by Jessica Zeyl, RP, Clinic Owner and Director.

Today is International Women’s Day. While I am a woman who is a business owner, I have to confess I hadn’t put a lot of thought into what that meant.

So when our lovely digital marketer (who is also a fabulous woman) asked me to write about this, I decided to embrace the opportunity to do some reflective writing on it.

In some ways it’s a bit of a mystery how I got to where I am today. I grew up in an ethnic religious environment that wasn’t too keen on women being in leadership roles. Ironically, though, this particular cultural group had a tendency to produce amazing, strong women who were well suited for leadership. So perhaps somehow I landed on the successful side of that funny combination of influencing factors.

I’ve been very fortunate to have experienced a culmination of just enough good stuff in my childhood (there was other stuff too), some access to great education, good people along the way that have believed and invested in me and a temperament that is full of vision and entrepreneurial spunk. Not everyone has all of that. So I’m fortunate/privileged/honoured to be where I am today.

It’s hard to know what within my experiences would be helpful to pass on. I’ve landed on these three:

Work through the negative feedback you might get as a leader.

Even though I’ve experienced some success in business and hope to experience more, I still get effected by old ideas of how women should be and how women in leadership have been judged when they step into the spotlight. It’s not like I’m consciously or constantly effected by this, but every once in awhile it rears its ugly head.

A good friend and business partner called me a powerhouse the other day and it took me a day or so to realize he meant it as a compliment. Upon reflection, I realize it’s because I’ve been given a lot of negative feedback when I have showed up as a confident leader. I’ve been told that I’m intimidating, too articulate or generally too much. This has meant that there’s a lingering shadow of patriarchy that still shows up inside of me and surprises me from time to time.

So it’s fair to say that I’m still working out some of the identity pieces of being a woman in business. I’m raising two smart, driven, creative daughters. I hope the world provides them with more safety and empowerment so that this shadow effects them less.

Be part of a team and value your business relationships.

It’s in my bones to be an entrepreneur. I love it. Now that I’m here doing this work, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I love thinking about the business, about how to invest in it, how to grow it, how to build working infrastructure within it and how to invest in my team.

While I value reading a lot, if I’m being honest with myself, I’m not the biggest reader in the world. Because I love being at the helm of this business so much, I’ve been known to take in a book on business leadership every now and again. I’m not a solo operation, though. I’m nothing without my team and business relationships. It’s important for me to always remember this. I have a few values or guiding principles that inform how I go about business. This is one of them.

I believe that if I do right by my business relationships (as best I can), they’ll do right by me. It doesn’t make sense to me to ambitiously pursue transformation, healing and health for our clients and not do right by all the people who are involved in that pursuit.

Personal growth means business growth. Don’t stop growing.

I believe that life often offers us opportunities to grow.

Sometimes these opportunities are straight forward and easy. Sometimes they are the brutal stuff of our worst fears and struggles getting deeply triggered. Whenever I’ve leaned into these opportunities, both the easier and harder ones, and done the work I need to do with them, I have grown. Each time I grow, I can see that the business grows too.

The business growth can be seen in a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s increased capacity or skill in my team, sometimes it’s more clients, sometimes it’s new locations for the practice. Because I’ve seen this amazing relationship between being open to my personal growth and the growth of business, I’m now pretty convinced that it’s the only way to live.

I’d like to close on a note of encouragement for any emerging female entrepreneurs out there. 

This isn’t an easy path to take, but if you feel like it might be in you to try, I would encourage you to give it a shot. There is something amazing about being able to build something and see it grow. I wish you all the best!

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