When I moved into the WeWork space I am renting through the end of March, I couldn’t wait to start hosting events to bring my communities together. I spent September through December hosting alumni-like events to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in awhile and to introduce them to the WeWork community. Attendees were small firm and solo attorneys, entrepreneurs, sole proprietors, authors, publishers, retailers, consultants, and graduates of the Ladies Who Launch Incubator (“LWL”) or the Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac Growth Venture (“FastTrac”) program.
Some of us had kept in various forms and frequencies of contact, through babies, divorces, new business ventures, and more. Whether it had been 12 months or 12 years since we had been together, the camaraderie we built when we were launching our businesses was still there. We became deeply aware that one of the aspects challenging us was the lack of supportive, knowledgeable communities–especially as we entered the next phases of our businesses. Our families love us, believe in us, and want the best for us, but they don’t always understand our work worlds. We need something else to give us the business guidance we need, which will probably also unburden our families and other loved ones who try unsuccessfully to be our mentors.
The Challenges of Business Growth
To get more detail about the specific issues we are facing, I conducted a survey and learned our biggest challenges:
- We are doing everything and can’t keep it up.
- We have insufficient revenue to support the businesses and lives we want.
- We have insufficient cash flow or aren’t converting enough potential business to sales.
We basically resemble every honest entrepreneur at some point in his or her career. We’re a bit overwhelmed by all the responsibilities and largely underwhelmed by the income we’re generating for taking these risks.
Some of our limitations could be due to our gender. As Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D. discusses in her revised and updated book, Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office, women often unknowingly limit their success through behaviors such as:
- Doing the work of others (Mistake 8)
- Waiting to be given what we want (Mistake 12)
- Undervaluing our consultative skills (Mistake 64)
Of course, all humans have self-limiting behaviors. It’s not just women, and some of us limit ourselves more than others. I see people of all genders, gender identities, races, and religions make many of the mistakes Dr. Frankel discusses, and I know they are preventable. This is why several of my fellow small business owners and I (not the ones in the photo) are forming a mutually-supportive mastermind group. Inspired by Napoleon Hill’s classic book, Think and Grow Rich, we’ll be incubating business ideas, helping develop effective action plans, and holding each other accountable for “staying on PARR” (Planning, Acting, Revising, and Repeating, until we get the results we want).
As another bit of classic wisdom suggests, when we’re head down and nose to the grindstone, we risk disfiguring ourselves and our visions for our businesses and the people they serve. We need to be out in the world with each other, where we can remember the boundless possibilities. Sometimes, these possibilities will include client referrals, product or service recommendations, and other breakthroughs in our thinking. Sometimes, they will include a helping hand with social media or an office move. Regardless, we can do more together.
The Bottom Line
Business is a game best played with skilled scorers. My current group is at capacity, but I’ll continue sharing resources so you can create one of your own. I remain committed to keeping you out of court (whenever feasible) and building your conflict resolution skills through coaching or helping you do it yourself. If you have a persistent conflict that neither you nor your mastermind group can resolve, schedule a consultation, and we’ll get you back in action toward resolution.
Let’s make this our best year yet!
Nance L. Schick, Esq. is a New York City attorney and mediator who focuses on keeping people out of court and building their conflict resolution skills, especially in business and employment disputes. Her holistic, integrative approach to conflict resolution draws from her experience as a crime victim, human resources supervisor, minor league sports agent, and United Nations representative. She is a 2001 graduate of the State University of New York Buffalo Law School trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation (ICERM). She is also creator of the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process, author of DIY Conflict Resolution: Seven Choices and Five Actions of a Master, and an award-winning entrepreneur, who has been acknowledged by Super Lawyers (ADR, 2018), the New York Economic Development Corporation/B-Labs (Finalist, Best for NYC 2015 & 2016), U.S. Chamber of Commerce (2015 Blue Ribbon Small Business), Enterprising Women Magazine (Honorable Mention, 2014 Woman of the Year awards), and Urban Rebound NY/Count Me In (Finalist, 2013 Pitch Competition).